March 27, 2014
Ola Refsnes, co-owner of much beloved Liebling, tells that Oslo-dwellers have missed his café without even realising it. And although he knew it would take some time until customers would embrace the communal table, they now seem to accept that “Liebling is a part of the European continent, and that Norwegian laws on ‘personal space’ don’t apply anymore”.
Some people call it “a piece of Berlin” in Oslo. That was not what we aimed for, but we are happy with the comparison if what they mean is that Liebling is a bit quirky and not streamlined. I am myself a native from Oslo, but Katrin is from Munich. Berlin is sort of in the middle I guess, so that makes sense. And, it is no secret – of course we both love Berlin.
Oslo can be a bit too streamlined for my taste. You know how Starbucks relies on psychologists to understand how customers behave, it seems like a lot of places follow their lead and take it for granted that this is how you design a place. But it seems that people are different. They like to break patterns. Do other things. That is what we experienced at Liebling. Liebling is not a concept, but simply a mix of design and stuff we like.
And people of Oslo seem to like it too. Some say they didn’t realise it before, but they have missed this kind of place in Oslo. It took some time before they would cram together at the same table (Norwegians view on personal space is bigger than that of Jerry Seinfeld), but it is as though they accept that Liebling is a part of the European continent, and that Norwegian laws on “personal space” don’t apply anymore.
Oslo has become very fast at adopting international trends and café culture, but there are still things that somehow haven’t found its way here – Wien-esque style cafés, curry wurst… there is still room for more diversity.
However, there are things in Oslo that are unrivalled anywhere else. You can pick wild strawberries in the forest and find yourself in the middle of the city with a shawarma in your hand half an hour later. The contrast between the cold winter and hot summer leads to an explosion of creativity and socialization in springtime, while people tend to isolate themselves in winter. The ideal way to develop social anxiety.