The world’s on stage at Berlin’s Bazar Noir


By Anna Carnick

Set in Berlin’s bustling Kreuzberg neighborhood, design shop Bazar Noir stands out from the crowd thanks in part to a quiet coolness. A must-see spot for Berliners in-the-know, Bazar Noir tempts passersby with its glass-front entry, framed in part by a dark floor-to-ceiling curtain that reveals a seductive, almost cave-like black interior. Inside, the vibe is hip, luxe, a bit mysterious.

Designed by local studio Hidden Fortress, Bazar Noir’s black walls, floor, ceiling, and displays are dramatically bisected by a central, floating staircase and second floor office in contrasting, light maritime pine. It’s a striking, theatrical setting—a perfect stage for Bazar Noir’s main protagonists, a richly layered selection of design objects old and new, curated by founder Catherine Pfisterer. 

There are vintage carved Moroccan Berber doors (grains of sand still visible in crevices), Beni Ourain rugs, Dogon masks from Mali, and objects from Afghanistan, Indonesia, and beyond, all lovingly collected on Pfisterer’s travels. Beside these, one finds contemporary designs from the shop’s own in-house produced series, Bazar Noir Editions: inky volcanic-clay side tables by Jojo Corväiá, say; or clever ash-wood vessels inspired by the age-old act of woodturning by Büro Famos, both studios from Berlin, alongside cutting-edge lighting by designers from Beirut, Ljubljana, and Warsaw, among others. 

It’s a diverse collection, but fluid. “There is a certain Bazar Noir DNA,” Pfisterer explains. “The main elements are minimalistic design, texture, and noble, natural materials—woods, marble, stone, leather, clay. It’s all about the material and the experience. I want people to enjoy interacting with these pieces. There are always little details that make the objects extra special. And almost everything is made by hand; I believe in craft production, rather than mass production. Plus I never follow trends;  I keep myself informed on what’s happening out there, but I adhere to my own taste. I’ve got strict criteria, and I stick to it.” 

And then, of course, there’s the undeniable thread of wanderlust. Upon entering Bazar Noir, a passion for travel and curiosity about the world are immediately evident—from the antique Indian wooden sculptures at one end to the vintage Mossi bracelets from Burkina Faso on the other. “Yes,” Pfisterer acknowledges, laughing, “I think the space sort of breathes travel.” 

Born in the south of France, Pfisterer has called many countries home at different points in her life, but settled in Berlin with her family nearly twenty years ago. A self-described autodidact, the chic, petite powerhouse sees travel as “the greatest gift” one can receive. She caught the bug early on; she traveled often as a child herself, and now she makes a point to tour the globe with her own kids. “Travel is so important for me,” she says. “It has such a strong influence on your point of view. I’ve got this philosophy: One life, one world. I want to see as much as I can. And I want my kids to see as much as they can, too; I take them everywhere I go.”

Founder Catherine Pfisterer atop her Bazar Noir branded auto Image © Pedro Gething for Pamono
The Bazar Noir project was born of this penchant for travel. For years, Pfisterer collected pieces for her own home while on holiday. Friends frequently inquired where her beautiful treasures came from, and asked her to pick up pieces for them as well. At a certain point, she and her partner agreed a shop was the next logical step. A little less than five years ago, she opened the doors to Bazar Noir, and, almost overnight, Pfisterer’s shop became an essential design destination in the city. 

Since that time, Bazar Noir has organically grown from a concept shop to a gallery format, while also taking on interior design work. “We don’t want to limit ourselves to one thing,” Pfisterer says. “The more projects I take on, the more excited I am.” With Bazar Noir Editions, she continues that gut-driven evolution; the collection includes everything from contemporary handcrafted furniture and accessories to a unique motorcycle made in collaboration with Polish custom shop Unikat Motorworks and even a scent, inspired by her childhood in France—a bit smoky, with lavender and jasmine notes. Regardless of typology, she says, each and every piece “evokes the essence of Bazar Noir.”

So what’s next for Pfisterer? “Five years into running the business, I have a strong sense of where I want to go and what I’m aiming for, but I never force things, because until now I’ve been really lucky. People and projects have come naturally, and serendipity has been a central part of the quest. Bazar Noir is a journey, a story that is still unfolding by itself.”

  • Text by

    • Anna Carnick

      Anna Carnick

      Anna is Pamono’s Managing Editor. Her writing has appeared in several arts and culture publications, and she's edited over 20 books. Anna loves celebrating great artists, and seriously enjoys a good picnic.
  • Photos by

    • Pedro Gething

      Pedro Gething

      Multitalented, full of good ideas, and curious about almost everything—especially his adopted home Berlin—Pedro is a Portuguese-British photographer with a degree in design. We like to have him in the office working on our photos as much as possible, but when we reluctantly let him go, he can be found traveling and just generally exploring the world.