WHAT WE LOVE: The seemingly endless spectrum of scents, which reawaken the sense of smell, are captured in bespoke and handcrafted candles inspired by both German and Japanese culture and aesthetic. Design-award-worthy candles are not only beautiful but also delve into human emotion and memories through the olfactory and visual.
WHO: Mallory Chen opened the shop and atelier in 2018.
WHERE: In Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood.
What year was Lit Lab established? 2018.
How would you describe Lit Lab? Lit Lab encapsulates the visceral social connection humans have between olfaction, time, emotions, and memories. Lit Lab hosts a gallery of more than 100 scents for friends, lovers, travelers, and family to explore and stimulate their sense of smell, ultimately to create a bespoke fragrance intended to capture a moment in time that is reminiscent of each other.
The fragrance is paired with a hand-crafted concrete candle that captures the essence of the Bauhaus movement and the Japanese art form of Kintsugi. All candles are refillable and made with soy wax to leave a greener footprint on the planet. Everything is made in our shop, which also doubles as our atelier.
What is Lit Lab best known for? Our workshops. Aside from exploring our gallery of scents, we offer fragrance creation and soy candle making workshops, which is an incredibly stimulating and creative experience.
What are Lit Labs “must have items”? Our Goldstruck candles, which have been nominated for the German Design Award. Our candle design celebrates the Berlin 1920 Bauhaus movement and the art of Kintsugi. Rather than hiding imperfections, we choose to embrace, enhance, and encompass them inside a geometric and raw structure, just like the broken city of Berlin and its hidden goldmine. What makes Berlin beautiful is the contrasts found within – from the old, noble architecture and the abandoned decrepit buildings throughout the city, to the even ratio between city and nature, and most importantly the people coming from vastly different backgrounds – these are the aspects that hold the city together, making it even more beautiful than it was before.
Where and how are Lit Lab candles made? Aside from materials like the soy wax and fragrance oils, every single candle container is crafted by hand and poured in our shop. We firmly believe in making something truly unique, handmade, and made in Berlin.
Who are your customers? Predominantly women of all ages, which is a shame cause men really are missing out!
How has the internet impacted your business? We started with online before opening a store. Obviously it’s impossible to smell something online so it was difficult to translate the key part of the Lit Lab experience digitally, ultimately the reason why we opened a store.
Mallory Chen, Shopkeeper at Lit Lab
Who inspires you? My mom. Most fearless, risk taking, and blunt person I know.
What inspires you? I love architecture and nature.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. Worked in tech. It was exciting and travel heavy, but I’m basically a grandma trapped in a 25 year old’s body, so I find candle making better.
What motivated you to open a shop? The fact that retail experiences have become so digitally driven. Connect here, share this, like that. I specifically chose scent as the focal point of the shop because it fosters a true connection with people and it’s a much more meaningful product.
Did you have prior retail experience? Nope, still learning.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? There will be some very lonely days and days where it feels like you accomplished nothing. Don’t beat yourself up about it and go get some exercise.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? Unlimited creativity! It’s so much fun to go in any possible direction I want.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Like starting any business, it’s a massive commitment. You may not have a free day in months and there are some unglamorous parts to the job, so make sure you are in it 200%.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? A jewelry designer
What is your perfect day off in Berlin? Breakfast at Neumanns Café. Drive out to Wannsee and spend the day on a boat and go to PEACOCK ISLAND!!! It’s not only an island shaped like the head of a peacock, but it’s literally filled with peacocks running around freely. There’s a greenhouse, an aviary with tons of gorgeous birds, a Prussian castle….just go. You’ll be blown away.
Which are your favorite shops? &other stories, Anthropologie (the one in London is incredible), and The Store.
Oranienburger Str. 32, Berlin
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth is a Berlin-based freelance writer and the author of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Istanbul. Her favorite shops are Souq Dükkan in Istanbul for the best of local design, Ryoko in Berlin for artisan Japanese goods, and Homemade Aromaterapi in Istanbul for 100% natural beauty products.