Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to Manufactum

Have you heard of the German catalogue Manufactum? I used to receive it at Pottery Barn. It was a J. Peterman meets Ace Hardware newsprint catalogue that belied the treasures they actually sell. You can look at all of their quirky collection online - they have fabulous industrial lighting, garden tools and home goods with a vintage feel.

After relocating I didn't carry my subscription with me, so I rediscovered Manufactum when reading Domino's Renovator Diary. Here Brooke Williams shows off her Bolich outdoor light fixture.



I raced over to the site to see if they might have some farmhouse-worthy lighting. To my delight they carried several items from Ceramiche Fabbro, a ceramics company in Italy. I immediately ordered 3 sconces and 3 flush-mount ceiling fixtures. I was ready to order AND deal with the exchange rate (remember this is Germany). How hard could it be?

For the mudroom and bedrooms...



Problem #1: Manufactum does not take a credit card from the US because of "security" reasons. You are mailed a pro forma invoice (which takes about 1-2 weeks). You then have 2 weeks to wire (yes, you read right WIRE) the funds to their bank, which leads to...

Problem #2: All the wiring instructions are in German. This is not so easy to maneuver because there are different codes for European banks than American banks. Fortunately my Bank of America had an Italian (as in from Italy) banker who could read German and understood European banking.

As an aside, I missed my 2 week window I believe 3 different times. I just couldn't face the whole sitting in a bank for an hour experience. And then I wired about $967 into the abyss. Which reminds me of...

Problem #3: If you don't receive the products, they aren't on a credit card so you can't stop the carge. Or if you don't like the products, you have a small window to return them, and shipping back to Germany is no small feat.

Fortunately, we were dealing with the Germans and it was all very efficient. After 2 weeks I called Manufactum and a lovely English-speaking customer service agent looked up my order and informed me that it had shipped. One week later my 6 lights arrived, packed pristenely and as gorgeous as they are on the website!

For the master bath...



The biggest bonus of all???? I did not have to rewire them for American electrical standards. I took them to a lamp shop, but they were ready to go. I had thought they would all need to be rewired! What a thrill!

So consider this Manufactum 101. If you can wade through the paperwork, their products are unique, affordable and really high quality - and likely no one on your street has 'em.

4 comments:

Malandro said...

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Sarah's Fab Day said...

This is a good story, I can see myself doing something like this. :)

Devon said...

I don't know if you made the magic happen, but I visited this website tonight to order some lights and noticed they now accept credit cards via online and ship DHL. Thanks for making this easier for all of us. I was pretty sure that the German document translation wasn't going to work... ;)

Zane Wooder said...

I wanted to this but then I was like why not just get a chicken lamp. That would be much easier.

zane