Photo by Dominic Burr
“A Panoptikum,” Vlad Korneev says with earnest confidentiality, is “a collection of extraordinary or rare objects.” He couldn't have found a better name for his time warp of a shop. The moment you step in, you are swallowed up by a heady mix of venerable typewriters, glinting bowling trophies, retro telephones, funky clocks and wonderfully comfy chairs.
In one room, a great stone bust of Lenin introduces a GDR theme: back issues of Das Magazin can be snapped up for a mere €1; kitsch-but-cool bowls cost €3. But most of the time, there aren’t price tags – Panoptikum is about soul, not money-making. Korneev carefully handpicks each item, culling his wares from ‘secret’ bric-a-brac stores, eBay and even rubbish skips, then lovingly restoring and displaying them. Amateur decorators can pick up some truly unique items for their living rooms: a 1970s stereo/record player from the East German electronic supplier RFT (in stunning condition!); a life-size Power Ranger from Japan; and lamps of every shape and size.
In the futuristic, refrigerator-like backrooms, the items are not for sale, but can be rented for anything from film to fashion shoots. Here, dentist chairs share space with some of the first ever Ersatzsonnen (electric sun lamps), and a human-sized birthing doll lies on a chair near a talking dispensing machine. Korneev plans to organise a museum-style exhibition soon: the €1 admission price will be a bargain, considering the mind-boggling treasures he is planning to display.