Design consultant Markus M Schneider, aka MMS, says he doesn’t believe people need to shop much. It may seem counterintuitive then that he’s opened a boutique, The Product Republic.
The Beijing-based German (pictured below) isn’t as contradictory as he first seems, however. Schneider insists that investing in long-lasting, quality products is how consumers should be shopping, as opposed to opting for fast fashion and low quality products that are designed to be replaced quickly. The goal of his Gulou store – housed in a former hutong snack shop – is to embody this principle.
‘The world cannot be the same everywhere,’ Schneider tells Time Out
, which is why he chooses to only stock labels from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Brands on the store’s shelves include Eastern Leaves
, a Yunnan tea company; and recently launched Beijing activewear company Zodiac
There’s also a sprinkling of carefully chosen vintage housewares inside the store because, as Schneider says, products only make people happy if they stay in one piece.
Inside The Product Republic, Schneider also stocks a line of bags he’s created, Metrobags. Designed to be durable and versatile, the upscale tote and messenger bags are made from locally sourced materials and only 100 pieces are produced each year.
When we stop by, Schneider tells us he’s currently preparing for a trip to Shenzhen. Within the next few months, the store will stock some of China’s best lifestyle tech gadgets and wearables – and he’s headed south to handpick them himself.
Indeed, with its various collaborations with local designers, The Product Republic feels more personal than a typical concept store. It’s a driving force that discovers, encourages and distributes intelligent local design.
By Ellen Schaft