The Paravicini studio



Saddlery and circus magic in Lübeck

On our recent trip to Grosse Burgstrasse, I mentioned that this street has a number of discoveries in store. Today I would like to introduce you to the Paravicini Atelier which has been located in the building at Grosse Burgstrasse 35 for 10 years. In the studio, I meet the owner Nicolai Paravicini, who learned the saddler’s trade from scratch. He opens the door to his world, in which tradition and craftsmanship enter into a fascinating liaison and in which he creates more and more space for his great passion: the world of the circus.

Workshop and showroom

Nicolai Paravicini is a master saddler. He trained at a company in southern Germany that specialises in making riding saddles. It was his wife Ea, a tightrope walker and circus performer who had long since travelled to lofty heights, who drew him to the north. At the time, he had no idea that his love of the circus would take hold of him and awaken new forms of expression for his craftsmanship. Initially, Nicolai’s aim in Lübeck was to gain a foothold with his one-man business. After a successful start in smaller premises in Große Burgstraße, he soon moved to the building at number 35, where he had already noticed the corner building with the antiquarian bookshop on the first floor as he cycled past. “If this ever becomes free…” – Nicolai thought. The dream came true faster than expected. And as soon as Nicolai saw it, he realized that this was the perfect place to showcase his creative work.

Leather comes to life

When I enter the Paravicini, I am immediately greeted by the characteristic scent of leather, which brings back memories. The light-flooded room is discreetly furnished. The warm wood of the furniture blends beautifully with the white-painted walls. Selected leather bags are skillfully staged. Delicate figures made of clay provide lightness. Truly a space that touches the senses.

The workshop is a tidy place of concentrated work: tools, leather rolls, sketches. High-quality briefcases, handbags, small leather totes, classic luggage and belts are manufactured here. Nicolai Paravicini likes to work closely with his customers to discuss their needs and requirements. To do this, he needs empathy and a good feel for people. The master saddler has developed a series of basic models in natural colours, which he adapts to the customer’s wishes. This is followed by the selection of materials and the creation of a sketch. The actual saddlery work requires creative skill. Nicolai Paravicini only uses material from German and European tanneries. The firm saddle leather has a particularly pleasant feel, it is durable and stable. A Paravicini object is purchased by people who are looking for a valuable accessory that can accompany them throughout their lives.

The world is full of wonders waiting to be transformed into art.”

Karl Ove Knausgård

A second artistic mainstay

Nicolai Paravicini’s dedication to his profession is reflected in his studio. I think it is exciting that the down-to-earth craftsman has discovered his love for the ease of the circus. Well, when you give your heart to an artist who elegantly walks a tightrope, it’s almost inevitable. It all started with Nicolai accompanying his Ea to performances, helping with the set-up and dismantling and putting energy into building props. But that also meant that there was nothing to do for many hours. Time that was supposedly wasted. Ultimately, however, time for close observation of the artists during rehearsals and the performance. Nicolai explored the question of his strengths. “What can I do?” He tried his hand at clay and developed his skills away from the circus ring. His aim: to capture the moment of complete concentration. If you look around the studio, you will discover his figures in perfect posture. Artists with a focused view. You sense the person behind the grand gesture – beyond the glamour of the circus show. You see the world behind the curtain through Nicolai’s eyes.

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Between heaven and earth

Are you surprised to hear that Nicolai has now moved from the edge of the ring into the spotlight? No: he leaves the tightrope walk to his Ea. But the examination of his profession as a saddler and craftsman led him to think about what he could bring to a show. How he could unite the performing and visual arts. The world of the circus is changing. Artists approach performances playfully and innovatively. The focus is not on “higher-faster-further”. Boundaries have become more fluid. Nicolai took up this observation. On stage, he works with rods, which he assembles into changing objects.

Would you like to see Ea and Nicolai Paravicini on stage? Sure, that’s possible. At the HanseKulturFestival from June 7-9, 2024 they will perform. And later in the year – in September 2024 – you can experience them for a week on Lübeck Cathedral Meadow.


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written by:

Barbara Schwartz