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“An evening at Merkur bar” is Cala Jade’s Holiday 18 collection. Inspired by and created to accompany you on those special nights during the holiday season. When you seek hours filled with moments that turns into memories that makes you want to relive it all season after season.
One thing is for certain, Merkur bar has a lot of personality and heart – much because of the owners and creators; Benjamin Lee and Alexander Kloster-Jensen. We were lucky enough to pick the brains of Benjamin Lee, about how this little gem came to be.
Benjamin had been living in New York for a period of time and was looking for a project for when he moved back home. Erlend (Birkeland, the scenographer at the National theatre), who had the space at that time told Alex that it would become available and the idea of Merkur was born. Benjamin and Alex might even have saved it from becoming a rental.
In the past Merkur has been an office, a yarn-shop and antique store. But what really made an impact, especially considering interiors, was the confectionary located there in the late 1930s. The interior is one of the few originals from 1937, still left in Oslo.
Both Benjamin and Alex wanted to build the bar around it’s original and unique features. Beyond this they share a mutual perception of aesthetics, which the bar became a reflection of. Both are fond of colors and strong graphics, and they try to work with locals as much as possible. Benjamin has a weak spot for ratten, which shows in the interiors – but also in special details like hiding ventilation. They both believe in taking time to let the bar become what it is organically, and are adding to it whenever they come across something that feels right. Merkur is a work in progress.
But above interiors and history they wanted to create a bar where they could hang out themselves, also because they live in the neigbourhood. The selection consists mostly of personal favorites, such as ‘bælmevin’ (Bælmevin = wine you can drink like lemonade), sake and stirred cocktails. Nothing too challenging or difficult, but still delicious. With this being said, Merkur also holds some really smooth titles of wine.
If Merkur were to be a location in a movie it would probably be something Kaurusmaki-esque, with a sprinkle of Wes Anderson. In terms of soundtrack, the favorites at the moment are Obscured By Clouds by Pink Floyd and Ronnie Laws - Mr. Nice Guy.
What differences Merkur the most is probably that they didn’t want it to be anything more than a neigbourhood-bar. Without boardgames or gimmicks. Just a nice place where you can hang out (and even bring your dog), without forcing the over-conceptual on guests. It’s back to basics.