Traveling gives such creative inspiration but also a lovely opportunity to explore a different culture. Of course, there is the added bonus — we tend to learn more about ourselves as we venture new grounds — there are spiritual discoveries, emotional breakthroughs, I could go on and on but if you travel you must know what I mean…
One small but interesting fact that I learned about myself in both Marrakesh and Istanbul is the kind of shop environment that I enjoy the most. I found shops of all shapes, styles and sizes — kiosks, carts on the street, ladies with handmade goods displayed on blankets in the park, men selling bread that they carried on their heads, souks, bazaars, flea markets, you name it I shopped it. But what I found fascinating was that in each country I was easily lured in by the shops (and flea market tables) that had a more western sense of merchandising – where displays were carefully thought out, merchandise curated, and the selection being moderate — not too much of a single item but more of a mix of things to discover as I shopped. When products were shown in ways that got my creative juices flowing, I had no problem buying them. In stores where I found thousands of the same item, or things just tossed randomly in baskets or pinned to walls, or stores with aggressive sellers, I shopped very little and found them to be a bit depressing and ho hum.
I also found the more western sales style much more inviting than having to barter when it comes to pricing. I prefer items with tags on them, so I know where I stand, and I like to be told a little about a product but then left on my own. That way, I could see an item and have the mental space (and quiet) to imagine this or that piece in my home, where, how I would use it, etc.
When bartering is involved well that is also fine to a point but if I say, “No, thank you” I really don’t want the reply to be, “But lady look at this, I can give you a better price” followed by more and more of the same… I also don’t like to have a seller tugging on my arm, and I don’t like shop owners chasing me after I leave their shop trying to offer me the same goods at half the price. That is one thing that I found very annoying when I shopped the souks in Marrakesh, after the first day the excitement of bartering really became stressful and draining because most of the souk sellers are in your face the minute you enter the medina and you have little to no physical or mental space as you shop — it’s just one after another coming up to you trying to lure you into their shop and some even pull you in — grab you — and this was not enjoyable after the “new” wore off.
I found Istanbul a much more delightful place to shop because the Grand Bazaar wasn’t nearly as intense as the souks in Morocco when it came to the sales approach, also more stores had a fixed price. Some of the bazaar shop owners were also be a bit intense (mostly the young guys), but they seemed to know when to back off and let you have your fun, go your way, etc. And I loved how hospitable they were — always offering us tea and if we purchased something, closing the deal with tea and conversation. I could really think when I shopped in Istanbul — I could take time to imagine, create and design things in my head as I walked around and browsed each shop in the Grand Bazaar and in the Spice Market — this made the trip very special to me. Istanbul is more expensive compared to Morocco though, so I guess you have to decide what matters most to you, price or peace! :) Though I’m first to admit, if invited back to Morocco I’d go in a heartbeat because I loved it there, too. :)
In addition to the 4,000 + shops in the Grand Bazaar, you also have many small privately-owned shops peppered around in the same neighborhood. One such shop, shown in the photos above and below, is Tulu located in the old part of the city called Sultanahment. Tulu is owned by American textile dealer, Elizabeth Hewitt, and has three floors of gorgeous items for the home as well as fashion accessories that I highly recommend. I left with only a few things, though my husband purchased a beautiful rug from Tulu for his office. We both will go back to Tulu when we visit Istanbul in the future.
I first discovered Tulu online in October 2009 and blogged about it here (thanks to Raina’s tip), so I’ve been wanting to visit for a year now and so walking in and seeing it was quite exciting for me and certainly did not disappoint. The selection ranged from Turkish finds to gorgeous Indian textiles and the shop was loaded with pattern and color — I have to vote Tulu as one of my top five favorite stores in Istanbul and a definite must-see if you ever travel there. You can find bags, bracelets, fabrics by the meter, rugs (mostly vintage), pillows, tin heart mirrors, hand-painted boxes, ceramics, plates, journals, so many beautiful things that your eyes won’t know where to look first. And their staff is so helpful and lovely — and no pressure — they offer help and then let you alone to wander and imagine. I love that.
And good news for you if you’re not traveling to Istanbul anytime soon… You can buy Tulu goods at select stores in the US, like Layla in Brooklyn (another favorite shop of mine) and Nest in San Francisco.
A special thank you to Azmi for being such a great help in this shop!
I hope you enjoyed my photos — I took them at night so forgive the exposure… I did my best! :)
(images: holly becker for decor8)
Hello everyone! I’m excited to share a brand new collection of porcelain along with a gorgeous studio space belonging to ceramicist Sandra Haischberger from Feinedinge in Vienna, Austria today. I’ve talked about her ceramics many times before, but last week I decided to contact her for some photos of her studio and her latest collection, ALiCE, because I know how much you’d love to see such an inspirational creative zone!
If you are not familiar with Feinedinge, allow me to introduce Sandra’s company to you! She runs a design studio that specializes in sustainable handcrafted porcelain. Sandra’s work is intricate and delicate, from porcelain lights with tiny holes created by hand using a small drill (wow!) to gorgeous cups and vases – it’s all quite lovely. The new range, currently showing at Maison & Objet in Paris, is called ALiCE which is a collection of teapots, cups and dinnerware crafted using tinted Limoges porcelain and is available in 6 colors that you can mix and match.
Sandra lives only a short walk away from her studio, so she appears to be living quite the dream life, doesn’t she? She is doing what she loves and lives in a fantastic city with her supportive and caring family. What more could a girl want? Oh yes, talent. Well she has plenty of that too! I really enjoyed her space because it’s light and bright (I can really think in a room like that!) and I really like how she mixes in mid century furniture to break up all of that white, it’s a really nice look.
Sandra thank you for sharing with decor8 readers this special peek into your shop and a glimpse of your new collection. Much success to you!
Would you like to tour the fabulous Moooi in Amsterdam with me today? I was recently there and asked permission to shoot some photos for decor8 and they were happy to welcome me and so I did my thing — snap, snap, snap!
I have always had this great love affair with the white paper chandelier ever since first spotting it five years ago and I’m still absolutely lusting for it after all of this time. I saw an XXL version as I walked into Moooi and laughed as I imagined a scenario where my husband would come home one afternoon and see it hanging in our entryway — I can picture his face! I can’t imagine owning a space large enough to fit the massive version of the paper chandelier, but I can definitely see using the “normal” size chandy over my dining room table or in the entry of my new home so I will contact their German agent soon to see if the price tag is even close to something that I can afford. I don’t know though… Here it is in the entry of the store as I walked in. Isn’t it lovely?
I also love the lolita table lamps, you can see a white one in the photo directly above — it reminds me of a little hat with delicate trimwork… it is such a precious light and I like that it also comes in gray as a pendant because I think that would look lovely in a kitchen, don’t you? I currently have the Clusterlamp in my kitchen but I’m thinking of moving it to the guest bathroom once I move… When I look at Moooi lighting I think I could fill my entire home only with their lighting and live happily ever after! I was counting over the weekend, in my new home I need to buy 13 pendants. Can you imagine? THIRTEEN. This is because we have 6 rooms plus a kitchen, 2 baths a hall and an entry room plus two enclosed winter gardens (they are like 3 season glass enclosed porches). I hope that I win the lottery soon.
Did you enjoy this little Moooi visit with me today? I hope that you did. I shot this store on a very rainy Wednesday when no one was around so I had the place to myself. I wanted to photograph more close ups of products but I felt I would have overstayed my welcome so I took these snaps above and got going… I ended up in a charming little corner cafe eating apple cake and sipping tea as the rain poured — it was quite a romantic little afternoon!
Visiting London? Moooi is set to open the doors of its first permanent showroom & UK headquarters in London on September 16th over at Portobello Dock!
(images: Holly Becker for decor8)
Good morning peeps and a big TGIF to ya! It’s nearly the weekend so let’s enjoy a few inspiring posts before I sign off, sound like a plan? First up… Are you ready for a little retail therapy? Kirsten Grove wrote in today to share her brand new business adventure with her pal Elise at Brass Razoo. Try not to drool.
Kirsten just joined forces with an existing boutique in Nampa, Idaho (near Boise) called Brass Razoo and launched a vintage and repurposed furniture and home decor line. Her partner-in-crime is an established fashion and jewelry designer,Elise Vaughn, who is from Australia but now calls Idaho her home. She specializes in vintage clothing and accessories at her shop Brass Razoo — both designer clothing and repurposed. Then a new shop concept came back in January over a simple cup of coffee between friends Kirsten and Elise. They were hanging out discussing shop ideas — what could be, what they wanted to offer, bringing in a more green approach to home decor and furniture locally for a good price without sacrificing style, adding home decor and furniture to Elise’s existing clothing and jewelry lines — stuff like that. And that coffee talk grew, in a just a few months, to all this gorgeousness below.
Kirsten (left) and Elise (right).
The original Brass Razoo whop was a tad too small for Kirsten’s work so when they heard about a nearby boutique that wanted to downsize to a smaller building they swapped and took the larger space for themselves. They opened their doors last Saturday and above is just a glimpse of it – but a nice glimpse it is! What an inspirational story – women collaborating and sharing a business rock, don’t they? I am so inspired by women who collaborate in order to bring forth their dreams. You don’t have to do everything by yourself — in fact, often it’s best to partner up on certain business ventures because of finances but also it makes something like shop ownership more enjoyable as you have someone else to mind it while you are off doing the books or at a trade show and vice versa. I’m all for collaborating and hope to someday own my own shop and work with a partner or two myself. Gooooo team! Rah!
A warm congrats Kirsten and Elise and I wish you all the luck in the world.
(photos: amber fischer)
Ah, Moomah. The dream shop/cafe in my mind that actually exists and where else but in New York. Have you visited? Please say yes and please tell me more! From what I read on their site, Moomah is a creative arts cafe where parents and children can eat, create (with do-it-yourself tables) and shop. They even have classes for kids and for adults too. I had heard about this creative and cozy space awhile back as it traveled around blogland but was reminded of it again as I was reading Anita Kaushal’s blog because she likes Moomah, too. Here are some views of their retail space. When I’m in New York this summer I’m definitely hitting this place even if for a few moments just to see my dream in the flesh.
What an amazing retail space, it’s creative and packed with visual eye candy in addition to the good things there to eat and drink. Talk about sensory overload… Heaven.
(images: moomah and kim cornelison)