The Signs of Oslo

Some months ago I saw a lovely post about the old signs in France. Lover of all things French and pretty vintage, I made myself a promise to go on a photowalk in Oslo and search for the old signs. Somehow I had an idea in my mind that the old signs of my neighborhood Grunerløkka were to be preserved and protected. Quickly I had to find out that either the rules have changed – or I remembered the wrong facts 🙂 There were no old signs – well, just a couple of them.

But I was already eager to set my lens focused on signs – and so I collected all the signs I considered worthy :)) They all are to be found in this hipster, relaxed, trendy neighborhood of Oslo – called Grunerløkka (where I happen – and am happy – to live). It used to be a cheap scary area which went through gentrification some years ago and now it is both cool and expensive to move in here. It used to be a place of many independent shops, bars and cafes, but now they give way to the bigger store chains and coffee houses. So some signs you see here can be unique and some are quite international. Now  let’s walk – and follow the signs!

This building (below) has an interesting story. Situated in the main crossroads of Grunerløkka, it is a tasty location – but it has been standing empty, desolate and plastered with posters for as long as I can remember (and I remember for 11 years now). It is said that a certain huge clothes chain wanted to buy this location and the contract was almost signed – but then the owner of the space didn’t agree on some points… And so the deal was called off. And ever since nothing has happened here. It stands there like a silent sentence: “I have enough money, or stubbornness, so I will not sell it”. I wonder what has been here before? What does the name Hallen stand for? Hmm, a bit of local history required 🙂

Manillusion is the name of the vintage store. Nice dresses in 50s and 60s styles – with impressive price tags. No, it is not second-hand, though it is also popular here. Margot bakeri is an old sign since I don’t remember any Margot bakery in this house. There has been a bakery “Baker Brun”, an Italian pizzeria and now an ice parlor – but the sign is still there, and I like it.

Further there are some chain coffee shops, a hipster shop devoted totally to beer, with almost hundred of different beer bottles in there, and a shoe store Ramona (sko means shoe in Norwegian).

This clock and the sign reading “Glasses. Watchmaker. Gold – silver” is a real vintage sign. I guess, this one is preserved. The shops come and go, but the sign stays there. I like how the shops play on its black-and-white theme. Now there is a barber/bicycle shop on the left, and the second hand interior shop on the left. There were others a year ago, and maybe next year the new will come. I hope, the sign will stand over this “tooth of time”, as it is said in Norwegian :))

Another authentic sign, and again I don’t know what it stands for. The black-and-white vignette stands for Vinmonopolet, which is located in this building now. It is the Norwegian alcohol store (because the state has the alcohol monopoly and sells it in special stores. In supermarkets you can buy only beer, and this with the curfew too). But the cheerful Becker’s with the fork – I have no idea. Maybe, it used to be a restaurant here. Norwegians are usually very careful about keeping the things up to date and taking away all the old stuff, so this one must be there for a good reason. The building is always painted red, and the signs twinkles with red neon when it’s dark.

A tiny house, hidden in the side streets, wears a pretty terracotta color, reminding me of Rome, and a modern sign, making it look old and authentic. I love when people put much thought in the design of such basic things as an entrance shield. That makes it instantly sophisticated and elegant.

I hope, this post can inspire someone to grab his/her camera and go out looking for signs 🙂 Share them with us, please!

What is the history of the signs in your place? Are they old or mostly new? Do you know some of their stories?

12 thoughts on “The Signs of Oslo

  1. Wow, pretty interesting exercise looking and capturing signs in your neighborhood! These photos and your descriptions remind me a lot to Stockholm (where I used to live) and its old town (Gamla Stan) and the hipster neighborhood, Södermalm!! It was very similar to what you described, old traditional signs mixed with coffee chains and modern business… I actually remember some sign that I loved, one in Gamla Stan that only said “Advokat”… it was pretty old, in a very narrow street and in a very old facade… I loved to see it every time I was in the city centre!! And also, I was a lawyer in Spain, so it kind of reminded me my old me, hehehe 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your sweet comment, Mercedes! I loved your Advokat story :)) I can see what you are talking about! Stockholm is such a great city, bigger and more chic than Oslo, real Scandinavian capital. Ah, but all Scandinavians are good at those hipster hoods))


  2. Lovely! Just yesterday I visited Škofja Loka in Slovenia, the second oldest town in the country (the oldest is Ptuj) that is famous for its shop signs. It’s a grand old town and I took many photos but didn’t pay special attention to the signs. Will have to return.

    Liked by 2 people

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