A café unchanged since the 1960s has become a great place to indulge in good coffee and the best of Norwegian design.
With its laid-back atmosphere and vintage furniture, Fuglen feels more like a well-loved living room than a café. The entire place is furnished with the best of Nordic 1950s and 1960s design – from Kaj Franck glassware to Kaare Berven Fjeldsaa ceramics. And if you happen to fall in love with any of the objects scattered around on tables, shelves, and counters, you can add them to your bill. Everything is for sale.
Fuglen opened in Oslo last year and was set up by friends Einar Kleppe Holthe and Peppe Trulsen. Holthe works in Stockflehts, a renowned Oslo coffee company, while Trulsen, an expert in Norwegian design, ran the popular vintage furniture shop, Flabbergaster. The duo decided to merge their two passions – and Fuglen was born.
They took over an existing coffee bar that had first opened in 1963. The space featured original counters, fittings and shelves. But Holthe and Trulsen needed additional space, so a wall was knocked through and the adjoining rooms (empty for seven years) were restored to give the same retro look. “Peppe and I wanted to save and preserve a little piece of Oslo’s identity – we have worked like mad to achieve this,” says Holthe. As for the objects on show, Trulsen scours the country, visiting flea markets and auctions, looking out for unusual designs and high-quality craftsmanship.
Stroll into Fuglen, and you’ll find Oslovians lolling about on sofas, nursing cups of steaming chai. The pace is slow – staff don’t shout-out orders or whip away your cup before you’re done. “Even the attitude behind the counter is inspired by the Fifties and Sixties – we take our time and give a level of service often forgotten about today,” says Holthe, proudly. All of the coffee is sourced from Norwegian ethical, Fair Trade brands. “We are operating on the good side of the industry,” he adds. There’s a selection of pastries on the menu but it’s not frowned upon if you want to bring your own food too.
At Fuglen queues often stretch out into the street. Holthe and Trulsen are expanding the concept with a club, due to open later this year. It promises to be an equally nostalgic, luxurious space. In a world of Identikit coffee chains, Fuglen’s blend of retro design, no-nonsense service and perfectly brewed coffee is a welcome antidote.
01 Japanese-inspired handcrafted teak shelves made on request by Møbelskredderne.
02 Glassware made and signed by Kaj Franck at Nitsjö-Nutajarvi.
03 Ceramic Studio vase by Kaare Berven Fjeldsaa, 1957.
04 Wall clock from early 1960s made by Jaz Electronic in Paris.
05 Wooden 1950s tray in teak and birch made by Tiedeman & Rud in Norway.