Beautiful & useful things from wood
I guess you haven’t heard of the Centre of Competence on the Origin of Timber. Well, there I have a head start in knowledge. Even though I have to admit that I also walked through life clueless in this respect for decades. However, my visit for the LÜBECK ZWISCHENZEILEN to Siegfried Kesting in his specialist store Holzereien in Fleischhauerstraße 26 motivated me to do extensive research on the subject of wood.
Now I know, for example, that there are around 25,000 species of wood in the world and that up to 800 of them are traded internationally. That beech, oak, alder and ash, as well as cherry and walnut are very suitable for furniture making. That mahogany is on the list of endangered species. And that even in the older Stone Age jars and dishes were carved from wood. In conversation with Siegfried Kesting, I took a little tour d’horizon through the times and fashions of using wood for everyday life.
Just come along with me …
Wood stirs emotions
People are attracted to trees, enjoy the scent of fresh woods while walking in local forests, and admire tree species unknown in our latitudes while on vacation. Processed wood also seduces you to touch. The very special feel of an olive wood bowl, a cypress wood bracelet soothes the senses. I feel this immediately in the lovingly designed store with the counter made of solid wood. I would love to get my hands on every product. The owner of the Holzereien shop already knows this. He gives me some time to browse and discover before telling me what connects him to Lübeck and how his heart’s project has developed.
From Stuttgart to Lübeck
It was not initially foreseeable that Siegfried Kesting would one day move to Lübeck. His cradle stood in the brickmaking town of Lage in the beautiful Lippe region. Siegfried Kesting’s family comes from Gdansk on his mother’s side. The family stayed in Lübeck after the war. His dad had come to Lübeck for his training. On the dancefloor of the “Moislinger Baum” dance hall, Siegfried’s parents fell in love with each other, got married in Lübeck’s St. Gille’s church and moved to Westphalia together. However, during the vacations and for family celebrations, they regularly traveled to Lübeck and kept in touch with aunts, uncles, cousins.
After graduating from high school, the young Siegfried decided to do an apprenticeship as a wood merchant. This was somehow obvious, because the material wood has always surrounded him: his grandfather was a master carpenter and his father a skilled wood trader. However, Siegfried Kesting did not remain a wood merchant for long. He continued his professional development as a software specialist in the wood and building materials trade and settled in Stuttgart. There he later operated a specialty store for stationery until 2017. And then a new focus was on the agenda. It could have gone anywhere.
Siegfried Kesting deliberately chose the fresh-air paradise of Lübeck, as he says. The wide northern German skies and a less bustling everyday life. He had thought of opening a specialty stationery store in Lübeck as well, but quickly abandoned the idea. He had to realize that there was no shortage of well-stocked stationery stores in Lübeck. A new concept was needed. In many conversations with his life partner, it became clear that he wanted to return to his professional roots. Siegfried Kesting’s Holzereien shop was born.
The store at Fleischhauerstraße 26 was a chance find. The first floor space is an almost ideal home for the Holzereien, also because of the wooden beam ceiling, which dates back to the period 1580-1620. It is an imposing coffered ceiling with an ocher ground and red and black or blue floral ornaments as the central motif. I enjoy it very much to come across such impressive testimonies of the past in the Old Town unexpectedly and to feel a connection with people over the centuries who have left their mark on Lübeck.
The name says it all
“Look, there are all kinds of things made of wood in there.” Siegfried Kesting often hears this sentence from people who stop in front of his shop window to look at the display. Well, it’s not really that surprising that a store called Holzereien offers products made of wood. Nevertheless, many customers are pleased that their expectations are met and even exceeded when they enter the store. The business is unique in Germany. Very often Siegfried Kesting can delight people who ask for a very specific wood product with a “Yes, we have that!”
With great determination I’m heading towards the wooden Seiffen nodding toys. A wobbling zebra that my father played with as a child is on the shelf at my house. The colourful wiggly animals of today fit children’s hands much better than those from the 1930s. For people who love children, the store is a little paradise, indeed. Building blocks and spinning tops, mobiles and wooden games, marble runs and wooden cars. Figures and toolboxes, birthday trains and wooden measuring sticks attract the customers’ attention.
However, there are many pieces on offer that will make the hearts of adults beat faster. Useful things like combs and shaving brushes. And beautiful things for people who already have everything, such as table clocks, elegant pens and decorative items. By the way, a very popular souvenir is a wooden smartphone holder. Which is kind of crazy – these two worlds colliding. I am thrilled by the cutting boards with the expressive grain and the honey spoon that fits so well in the hand.
Sometimes customers ask if he made all these products himself. Siegfried Kesting, who says of himself that he is not gifted in craftsmanship, unfortunately has to disappoint them. The products come from sources in Germany and Europe. The circle of suppliers has gradually grown along with the broader range of products. Some also come from the Lübeck region. Only products with high quality workmanship made from certified materials are included in the assortment.
Siegfried Kesting radiates calm and thoughtfulness and allows the people entering to first look, marvel and browse. On request, he advises with competence and his expertise about wood and its care and recommends literature on the subject. He likes people who like wood. It’s as simple as that. And he likes the warm atmosphere that his store exudes. “We’ve got a nice place here.” Nothing to add.