Destination: England: London
Old-fashioned Bentleys brims with expensive antiques, vintage luggage, bowler hats and 1920’s airplane propellers.
Besides Tom Dixon, another lifestyle boutique worth visiting is Darkroom, in Bloomsbury near the British Library). The stylish boutique serves as a wonderfully peaceful backdrop for the bold home accessories on sale; no fuss or clutter here. What’s more, Lambs Conduit is packed with such other tempting independent shops as Persephone Books, Something, the Espresso Rooms and the French House. It’s worth an amble.
Colin Firth (of Bridget Jones Diary fame), his Italian wife and two partners opened Ecò in non-central Chiswick. A green concept store, Ecò carries everything from sustainable office products (solar cell phone charger, anyone?) to eco-friendly cleaning products. There’s even a consultancy on the premises to assist homeowners who wish to go green.
Emma Bridgewater is beloved for her chunky pottery in colorful, fun patterns that can be spotted in most English country kitchens.
Few & Far
Terence Conran’s sister, Priscilla Carluccio, is stepping out of her brother’s stylish shadows and into the limelight with this dream shop on Brompton Road. The lifestyle boutique carries goodies sourced from across the globe, ranging from vintage to contemporary designs. Chocolate cake is served Friday afternoons.
Holland Street, Kensington
Holland Street is a tree-lined, quiet haven of a road with lovely white houses and quaint shops in the middle of bustling Kensington. On a stroll here, don’t miss Yastik (No. 8), a beautiful cushion shop (its name translates as “cushion” in Turkish). The store has an original outpost in Istanbul and was launched by Turkish fashion designer Rifat Ozbek and his partner Erdal Karaman. The space in London is contemporary, with clean white interiors that are lined with shelves showcasing over 150 colorful cushions in over 100 designs, all hand-died, -loomed and -printed from Central Asia. These limited edition luxury pieces start at £50 and go as high as £900 for the huge floor ones. New patterns come out every season with designs ranging from vintage to custom-made.
Down the street from Yastik, don’t miss Willer (No. 12), a high-end artisanal boutique selling everything from eye-catching sculptural ceramics and Dutch textiles to specially-commissioned Murano glassware.
Musa (No. 31), meanwhile, is another must-stop shop, especially if you’re en route with teenage daughters. It sells lovely tops, kaftans, pretty sandals and summery dresses. All this browsing can work up an appetite. Luckily, Ottolenghi (No.1), my favorite London deli, has an outpost here. Expect an emphasis on terrific Middle Eastern dishes made with local vegetables and grains.
Mercer & Wells
The Gothic–designed High Court dates back to 1882 and its lovely Georgian buildings house various law firm. Nearby, on Chancery Lane, stop by Mercer & Wells. Launched by two lawyers and an IT expert, this sweet shop sells everything from Finnish ceramics and Georg Jensen silver to Marimekko notebooks and Mandarina Duck luggage. I fell for a Jonathan Adler zodiac cushion and the sweetest children’s book, even though my youngest is 12. It’s that kind of a shop. You won’t leave empty-handed and gift-wrapping is free, done in charming specially commissioned wrapping paper called City Gent by artist Lizzie Allen.
At this shop, London’s leading interior designer of updated English country house chic showcases elegant knick-knacks for the home.
Indagare’s London-based contributor, Elena Bowes, writes: “An interesting visit is to Peter Layton’s glass blowing studio where visitors are encouraged to watch glass blowers turn blobs of molten glass into eye-catching ornaments.”
Indagare’s London-based contributor, Elena Bowes, writes: “Tucked away on Kinnerton Street is this shop for bespoke and whimsical scented candles.”
Summerill & Bishop
A stylish, unusual kitchen shop in Notting Hill with a period French look.
At the center of Brompton Cross lies the magnificent Art Deco Michelin Building housing British designer Sir Terence Conran’s superb flagship store, full of stylish displays of furniture, kitchenware, books and gadgets.
You will have to take a car to the inconvenient location that houses lighting and furniture maker Tom Dixon’s new emporium, at the Wharf Building on Portobello Dock (beyond Notting Hill). It’s worth the trek, thanks to Dixon’s incredible modern collectibles. The large boutique also features an eclectic mix of accessories and housewares. Wandering around the large quiet space, I was drawn to a long dining table made of varnished scrap wood by Danish designer Piet Hein Eek, as well as a whimsical copper-colored motorcycle helmet designed by Italian group Ruby (a limited-edition, certo). After your shopping spree, be sure to stay for lunch at the modern-rustic Dock Kitchen, whose chef just won an award for Best Young Chef of 2010.
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