Spotlight: Kaktus København

Kaktus København is Denmark’s first concept store focusing on cacti and succulents. Started by Maja Samsoe Bastian, Gro Samsoe Bastian and Cecilie Krawack, the store integrates exotic, sculptural cacti and Nordic, minimalist style.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. We (Gro Samsø Bastian, Cille Krawack & Maja Samsø Bastian) are the cactus girls and founders of Kaktus København. In May 2015 we opened a cactus concept shop in Copenhagen. It’s a little shop selling more than 150 different Danish grown cactuses and design items. We come from different professionals fields; Gro is a Sociologist, Cille is an urban planner and Maja is a Retail Designer. It might sounds like a odd team for a Cactus Shop, but together bring in new perspective to the plant industry. We all share the same passion for cactuses and we like to get our hands dirty and enjoy the conceptual way of working with plants.

Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? We visit Trendland.com for daily inspiration on great design from all over the world. Then we visit the plants-on-pink Instagram because the combination of beautiful plants and bright colors makes us happy. And then we visit urbanjunglebloggers.com, which is full of green inspiration for living with plants.

How has living in Copenhagen affected your work? We call our concept store Kaktus København, named after the city we live in. The aesthetic of the store and our visual identity is inspired by the city and the people living here. We love the parts of Copenhagen that have handcrafted, Danish design tradition and easygoing vibes. Our shop is also a place for hanging out, and people come by for a weekly fix of cactuses and coffee. The street where our shop is placed, called Jægersborggade at Nørrebro, is a very inspiring street. This special street is full of young creatives that have been specializing in one thing. It used to be a hardcore pusher street, then the shops moved in. Now the street has transformed, with everything from a shop selling only caramels, nitrogen ice cream, special Danish hotdogs and the best coffee in town, not to mention the art galleries, organic bakeries, and a tattoo shop and vegan burger joints and more. We love the vibe of this part of the city and it is amazing that it gives space for us to test out things and new concepts.

What were you like in high school? We were party girls back in high school. We were up for everything that had to do with tequila and a dance floor – we maybe still are. We where all close friends back then and have always had millions of ideas together. Even in our teens we started to do different events together as a team. When we are together, it feels like a never-ending brainstorm.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? We are very obsessed with new ways of using the cactuses. At the moment we are researching and testing edible cactuses and are impressed by their lovely taste and the ways of using cactuses in food. Last month we had an event making cactus-toast, it was a lot of fun and we was inspired by the traditional cowboy-toast spiced up with Mexican flavors and cactuses. As we are a concept store more than a traditional flower shop, there are no limits for where this project can go. We daily get inspired by art with cactuses like sculptures, ceramics and green colour combinations.

If you were a drink what drink would you be? Mezcal, because it’s smokey, fresh and makes you a little crazy. Meczal is made out of some of the agave plants that we sell in the shop and we do enjoy an after-work drink out of simple ingredients: Mezcal, lemon and ginger on ice.

How did your interest in your work begin? When we grew up on the countryside the three of us took gardening classes and our parents had cactuses around the house. Gro and Maja remember being awakened in the middle of the night by their dad to see the cactus flowering (this cactus is called Queen of the Night). But we aren’t gardeners or botanic experts. We are simply driven by an admiration and fascination for the prickly and artful works of nature.

We stumbled upon a “Cactusman” outside of Copenhagen who has been running a greenhouse for more than 50 years, and has a special collection of cacti and succulents. Slowly but steadily we began our own cacti collection, which took over our house and windows.

Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? We would love to team with the former Danish architect Arne Jacobsen and Frida Kahlo. They both had a passion for cactuses and as we are very inspired by working in the area of tension between the exotic Latin expression and the clean Scandinavian look, we think this could have been a very inspiring collaboration.

What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? We want to inspire people to live with plants. We’ve created a cactus universe with wood chips on the floor and simple interiors so that the plants are in focus as green sculptures. We want to show the beauty of the plant and have cacti and succulents of all sizes, shapes and colors. And not to forget — we play old school hip-hop in the cactus store, and believe that the cactuses enjoy it as much as we do.