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Shop Tour: Lark

It is time for another gorgeous shop tour with tons of photos with many little things to study! Ready to take a moment out of your busy day to go on a little shopping trip with me? Today you’ll meet Allison Jones, owner of Lark in Daylesford, a small country town in Australia near Melbourne. Allison opened up shop only one month ago and so this is an exclusive peek at her gorgeous wares. Allison selected her shop name because, “It means joy, fun, a happy song. It’s a very light-hearted word. Also my baby boy was always waking up so early, so I was forced into becoming a Lark even though I am naturally a Night Owl!”, she says.

Shop Tour: Lark

Lark carries their our own range of knitted toys and handmade accessories, plus homewares, stationery, totes, t-shirts and paper products. When I look at her shop it almost reminds me of a blog brought to life because she carries so many independent brands that you wouldn’t typically find if you were out buying at a trade show. This makes the whole Lark experience for someone living in Daylesford so very unique. For example you can find art prints by London’s Belle & Boo. In addition to small companies, Allison carries Japanese zakka and books, picnic sets from Danish label Rice, handmade children’s clothing, craft kits, zines and handcrafted products from Australian designers including Beci Orpin, Victoria Mason, Betty Jo, Little Shop Of and Twiglet. I asked Allison a few questions about her store and I’ve included her comments below with more deicious photographs.

Shop Tour: Lark

Why did you open a storefront? We started with an online shop, but I felt that it was missing something, I really wanted to meet our customers and for them to see how all of the things that we choose could work together in a space. We moved to Daylesford as a young family three years ago and it’s where we live and work so I jumped at the chance to open a shop when an old factory building came up for lease in the centre of town. It looked a bit ugly but I had just returned from a trip to Tokyo and been impressed by these amazing boutiques like the Jeu de Paumes shop and gallery, tucked away in unlikely buildings, so I knew I could make it look pretty. We could have opened our shop in the city rather than the country, but Melbourne already has so many amazing shops whereas here, people are surprised when they come across us, we’re like a huge burst of colour and craftiness, a fresh, young shop that you would not perhaps expect in a small country town. And Daylesford is a favourite weekend destination for people from the city because of its mineral spas and beautiful scenery, so we do get a lot of visitors coming through anyway.

What feelings would you like for your customers to have when they enter Lark? I hope that visitors feel welcome, surprised, a little excited, nostalgic and happy.

Do you have any perks to lure in new customers and to keep current ones? We have a store newsletter, shopping nights and free goodie bags to tempt customers. We also run a fundraising scheme with our local creche. But mostly customers return because we always have fresh new things to entice them!

Ummm a creche? What is that? Oh, it’s a community childcare centre or kindergarten! We have a great one locally, and whenever the parents come into the shop and buy something the centre gets a percentage.

Shop Tour: Lark

Shop Tour: Lark

Shop Tour: Lark

What future plans do you have for Lark? I would really love to open a cute tea shop inside Lark, serving classic Australian cakes like lamingtons, yoyos, and lots of different slices inspired by the CWA (Country Women’s Association). But I think we will need bigger premises for this!

Do you also have an online shop? Yes, right here.

How do you find the products that you carry? I organise a local makers’ market, so I have a lot of contact with crafters and makers from our area, there are some very talented people around here. The Australian website Made It is also a great source. When I want to look further afield, my main inspiration comes from blogs, Etsy, and my travels around Europe and Japan.

Shop Tour: Lark

Shop Tour: Lark

Shop Tour: Lark

Are you accepting new artists and designers and if so, if someone reading has a product that may fit your aesthetic, can they contact you? Certainly! Just this week I received in the mail a gorgeous brooch from a designer in Sydney who had read about our shop on my blog, and we are going to be stocking them very soon.

Thank you so much Allison for touring us of your exquisite and charming shop! All the best in your new business venture, I see a tea room in your future for sure. ;)

(photos: Rohan Anderson)

Posted in Shop Tours, travel on November 04, 2009

CONTAIN Gallery

I recently had a chat with Ioanna Paraskeva from the newly opened design shop in Cologne, CONTAIN Gallery, and thought I’d share our conversation with you since my goal is to spotlight more unique, independent and small galleries and stores out there. If you don’t know Ionnna, she is the wife of Markus Gogolin who is the founder of online design portal, DESIGNSPOTTER, also based in Germany. (Yes, they clearly have a thing for uppercase!) She has worked with him for three years thus far and was responsible for communications and marketing and co-organized three large shows at the International Furniture Fair imm cologne. Wow! These two live and breathe design!

CONTAIN Gallery

Holly: Hello Ioanna and congrats on your new store. Quick first question to get us started today… how did you decide on the name?

Ioanna: I like the association of containing/comprehension/accommodation; at the same time a container protects precious goods and transports them from one place to another. That’s what I liked most: The idea that I wanted to form a physical location to show international pieces of design and transport their message and meta-ideas to the people around.

Holly: Okay, I get it. It’s part shop, part gallery. How do you define it?

Ioanna: A forum for young and modern design – this is CONTAIN Gallery’s mission statement. Alternating topical exhibitions, presenting international up-and-coming artists and their exclusive prototypes, progressive design concepts and limited editions. Carefully selected pieces will also be available in the Gallery Shop.

CONTAIN Gallery

Holly: What gave you the idea to open a shop?

Ioanna: A step back is a step forward – Digitally dealing with design on a day-to-day basis led me to desire to give design talents and their products an opportunity to become permanently touchable and come alive in sophisticated surroundings. I took a conscious leap from a breathless digital world right into the decelerated, clear spaces in Cologne’s Aachener Str 29.

Holly: What goals do you have there (shows, workshops, etc.)?

Ioanna: My ultimate ambition is to discover young international design talents and newcomers who have big creative potential. I want to give them advance and claim them simultaneously. My main work as a curator is to cultivate contacts, to communicate in a target-orientated way and to multiply media attendance for the designers I represent. Also, I plan to participate in some exciting international art/design shows – but first of all I have to establish my location here in Cologne.

CONTAIN Gallery

Holly: How do you plan to market your shop so that word gets around?

Ioanna: As I have a lot of experience in public relations and marketing and furthermore collected a huge amount of designer and press contacts within my work for DESIGNSPOTTER, I already started the PR tsunami :-)

Holly: Who are some of the designers that you currently feature?

Ioanna: Frank Plant (USA/Spain), Bram Geenen (The Netherlands), Zeitgeist Toys for KPM (Germany), Platform/Iker (UK/Poland), Design Apparat (Belgium), Stephan Roller (Germany) and Per Emanuelsson/Bastian Bischoff (Sweden). You can view them all here and read their profiles.

CONTAIN Gallery

Holly: Why did you select these designers, what spoke to you about their work?

Ioanna: The current exhibition’s theme is „Utopie jetzt! or in English, utopia now!“ and is reflected in the creations of young international designers. Utopia is an idea of an allegedly refined society – contradicted by a cross-section of modern urban lifestyle and it occasionally collides with a constantly growing examination of one’s sensitivities and responsibilities. The scope of exhibited products reaches from Barcelona to Bulgaria, from vehement weapons to enlightened surveillance. What these products have in common are the juxtapositioning of realities. Manga figurines in golden and platinum hand-painted porcelain clothes; a super-sized Kalashnikov in admonishing red; a floor lamp with surveillance cameras as shiners. All these and lots of other exciting designs formulate an international interpretation of meaning, value and use. Objects and their meta-concepts float free, sometimes provocatively, sometimes ironically. In any case they animate the viewer to give some thought to own ideas on how to improve the world we live in.

Holly: Are you accepting new product submissions or do you prefer to approach artists and designers personally?

Ioanna: I am very open minded so anyone can feel free to contact me!

So nice to meet with you today Ioanna and to see your space – thank you for sharing it with us here on decor8!

(images: contain gallery)

Posted in Shop Tours on October 23, 2009

London Anthropologie Visit

I mentioned recently that Anthropologie in London will soon open its doors, today in fact, as the first Anthro in Europe. I decided that since so many of you showed interest wondering what it will look like and such, I asked one of my friends if she’d play roving reporter and share her impressions from the store. Susannah Conway, from the lovely blog Ink on my fingers, attended a press event there a few days ago and has pulled together a quick review for all of us who haven’t yet been to the new store. Would you like to see a peek? Susannah tells us about her visit below….

Anthropologie London

Hi everyone, Susannah here. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the new Anthropologie store on London’s Regent Street and, in all honesty, I’m still swooning. The 10,000 square foot store lies over three floors, each filled with so much eye candy you could happily spend a whole afternoon sampling every morsel. I’d been to the Anthropologie store in Seattle back in 2006 so I had an idea of what to expect, but their first European store still managed to surprise and delight.

Anthropologie in London

Anthropologie in London

The store has a full-time team of ‘visual artists’ who look after the windows and in-store merchandising, and judging by what I saw yesterday, those talented souls must truly love their jobs. While each floor has its main focus – textiles, home accessories, apparel – it’s all mixed together so artfully you can easily envision everything in your own home. It was vintage-inspired bohemian chic at its best – a look I adore – so I danced around the store with my camera(s)…

Even if you don’t plan on spending a penny, the store is a must-visit for anyone yearning for some visual stimulation; there were so many colours and textures to take in, with old sofas and dressers displaying floral china and jewel-coloured glassware, patchwork wool cardigans and embroidered peasant dresses, and, of course, the bedcovers, blankets and a huge rail of the most adorable aprons (seriously!).

Anthropologie in London

Anthropologie London

The store mixes British and European designers with their own in-house designs so you’ll find new discoveries among the Anthro staples of scented candles and quirky ceramics. I loved the use of whimsy throughout the store: an octopus rug on the wall, a huge papier mache narwhal hanging from the ceiling and the truly amazing living wall, a 200 square metre wall made entirely from living plants, all watered with rainwater collected from the roof.

Anthropologie in London

Anthropologie London

Anthro comes to London...

I think it’s safe to say that London shoppers will welcome Anthropologie with open arms; I’m already planning my return visit. - Susannah Conway.

Anthropologie, 158 Regent Street, London W1

Thank you Susannah for giving us a peek at the store! Readers, you can see more impressions over on her blog right here. :) Also my other English blog friend Bowie, who also attended this press night (from the Print & Pattern blog) took tons of photos – you can see them on her blog. Now no one has to feel left out because they’re not in London! :)

(images: susannah conway)

Posted in Shop Tours on October 23, 2009

Brook Farm General Store

Would you like to take a trip with me to Brooklyn, New York today to visit the newly opened Brook Farm General Store? I was so pleased when one of the owners, Christopher Winterbourne, wrote in recently and I learned about his shop which he owns with partner Philippa Content and you’ll see why soon enough but in addition to what you see here, they have an online shop so don’t miss it.

Brook Farm General Store

I love to feature store tours on decor8. So many inspiring little nooks exist out there, places where ones heart and soul is deposited each day  —  where there is so much care being given to product selection and display — and sometimes these charming destinations are unknown outside of the neighborhood, state or even country in which they sit. My goal in having a blog with a worldwide readership is to spotlight these creative little shops with their talented owners, with hopes that you’ll not only be inspired enough to visit them online, but that if you are traveling or have friends who are, that you’ll suggest these stores or visit them in person. Let’s look around a bit at the Brook Farm General Store today, shall we?

Brook Farm General Store

Brook Farm General Store

Welcome to the Brook Farm General Store in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn just under the Williamsburg Bridge. This shop is lovingly curated by Christopher and Philippa who have such an amazing eye for organic beauty, mixing old with new, and finding products that are tactile and appeal to the senses in some way – whether the smooth porcelain of a vase or the fragrance of a bar of handmade soap, there is something to delight all who visit. Before opening this past summer, Philippa managed a small chain of boutiques in the West Village and Christopher was working in television and film production. When I asked them why they opened the shop they told me, “We realized that we were having a hard time finding the simple, classic, well-designed items that we had grown up with. So, we decided to open a modern version of the old general stores of New York. We chose everything in the store very carefully, and we only sell items that we would want to have in our own home.” Again, another story of something amazing being born out of lack — if something is lacking, you step up and fill the void!

Brook Farm General Store

Brook Farm General Store

Brook Farm General Store

Brook Farm General Store

Brook Farm General Store

Brook Farm General Store

Brook Farm General Store

Vintage rolling pins, tea, soap, brushes, duralex glassware, soft towels, vintage quilts, linen blankets, hamman towels, construction blocks, necklaces and more… like the lovely Lampes Gras architects’ lamps. Christopher and Philippa prove that functional does not need to be boring. Displayed in a mostly white space, the natural brushes and wooden handles really stand out adding warmth to the shop, as does the big black cast ironware on the walls. In addition to their current offerings, they are designing a line of bed and table linens under the label Tourne. They eventually plan on expanding to other housewares as well.

I hope to visit in person someday — but for now, we can all visit them online via their online shop. I see so many things that I would like to own. See anything you like?

Brook Farm General Store, 75 South 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 Tues-Sat 11-8 and Sunday 12-7.

(images: brook farm general store)

Posted in Shop Tours on October 15, 2009

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