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The global coffee / cocktails / design powerhouse Fuglen has come to New York City in the form of the Norwegian Icons exhibition, a collection of Norwegian design masters co-curated by Fuglen and Blomqvist that opened Friday, May 23rd at Openhouse in SoHo. In Oslo, Fuglen is a combination high-end multi-roaster cafe, craft cocktail bar and vintage design store. Though Fuglen lands first in NYC with a focus on design, co-owner Einar Kleppe Holthe told that he plans on soon opening a third retail location in New York. For now it’s still a twinkle in his eye, but judging by the turnout at the opening on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, a Fuglen outpost would be most welcome in The Big Apple.

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The two previous stops on the Norwegian Icons tour – Oslo and Tokyo – are home to Fuglen’s original shop and their first foreign branch. Fuglen is famous for the sense of creativity and detail they bring to their retail ventures, with their Oslo store, pictured below, helping pioneer both the high-end cafe and craft cocktail scene in the city. They were early proponents of the multi-roaster cafe model, and offer a wide range of well prepared coffees from leading Scandinavian roasters like Tim Wendelboe and Supreme Roastworks. Fuglen were also early proponents of bringing a New Nordic cuisine approach to flavor and ingredient sensibility to cocktails, a trend that has been heavily slipping into mainstream cocktail consciousness.

Photo: Eirik Sand Johnsen via Guidepal
Photo: Eirik Sand Johnsen via Guidepal

Fuglen brought these ideas to Tokyo in 2012 with the opening of their Shibuya store, and the Japanese market has proven to be a very fruitful one for the brand. They worked with Lexus Japan on menu and design considerations for the cafe component at  Intersect, a Lexus hybrid retail space, and The New York Times recently covered Fuglen’s collaboration with celebrated artist Takeshi Murakami on Bar Zingaro, a coffee and cocktail bar in the Nakano Market in Tokyo that is part of Murakami’s collection of miniature galleries in the mall.

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Fuglen’s Tokyo outpost in Shibuya. Photo via .fatale

The Norwegian Icons exhibition started as a response to the popular inattention to Norway’s contribution to design (and a Christie’s auction of Scandinavian work conspicuously lacking Norwegian representation). The exhibition showcases furniture, tableware, lighting, jewelry, decorative pieces, and contemporary art from 1940-1975. Originally opening in Oslo back at the beginning of 2013, the collection has travelled to Tokyo, and has now found a brief home in Manhattan at Openhouse.

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Aside from curation, promotion, and emcee duty, Fuglen provided the coffee and cocktails for the opening, which featured a live performance by 1B1′s classical ensemble out of Stavanger, Norway. The party was a resounding success, with revelry ably fueled by drinks from co-owner Halvor Digernes, head of Fuglen’s cocktail program.

Fuglen also popped up at the shared workspace NeueHouse earlier in the week with a preview of the Norwegian Icons show, serving a batch-brewed Colombia Edilfonso Yara roasted by Kaffa in Oslo. An incident with coffee transport meant a switch to coffee from New York City’s Kaffe 1668 for Friday night’s Openhouse event.

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Co-owner Einar Kleppe Holthe.

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Norwegian Icons is showing until June 1 at Openhouse, where you can purchase a tasteful array of midcentury modern design pieces (provided you have the funds). Fuglen’s coffee & cocktail service was just a one night affair, but it’s an exciting portent of things to come for the brand in NYC. In a city that waits for no one, the buzz around Fuglen’s next step in New York is palpable.

D. Robert Wolcheck (on Twitter as @drw) is a photographer and writer based in New York City. Read more D. Robert Wolcheck on Sprudge. Assistant Editor Alex Bernson contributed additional reporting to this story.

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