Oh my, you’ll love this shop and the things in it…Amsterdam is a direct train ride from where I live, only 4 hours away, and yet I rarely make the time to go there. This year I only visited once and stayed only 3 days — clearly more time is needed in such a diverse and lovely city. Since discovering recently the lighting of Maartje van dem Noort sold in a shop called Store Without a Home or SWAH), I have vowed that next year I will definitely make time in my schedule to visit Amsterdam a few times and linger a bit more… There are so many creative people who live there and some have the sweetest ateliers and shops. I think I’ll show you one now called Store Without a Home.
Store Without a Home is located at IJburglaan 354 in case you are currently in Amsterdam and want to catch a peek, though they are moving locations in January so check their blog for updates next year. I love how quirky and creative it looks – their products are whimsical and I imagine in person, a real delight to behold. I especially love the Hang Me Lightly pendant, Cloud stools, and the Paper Alarm Clock.
(images: store with a home)
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)
Ready to travel with me to Istanbul, Turkey? First, you may want to brush up on the history of the city which is quite fascinating because everything that you see below won’t make much of an impact unless you do. This is the case for me anyway, just knowing something about the patterns, colors, architecture, people, history — it makes everything really come together and gives greater meaning…
Having some knowledge of textiles is also helpful when you visit a city like Istanbul — personally as I visited various shops I felt that even my limited knowledge came in super helpful. If there is any travel tip I can give you that I could call the greatest travel tip of all it is to either learn about the history of a city, it’s people, it’s crafts, etc. before landing on new shores or immediately hire a recommended guide and let them educate you when you arrive or else you can really lose the essence and for me, there is just no point in leaving your homeland to simply fly somewhere to shop and eat and leave with bags full of pretty stuff that you have no real clue about. I know, I’ve done this before! Learning about the culture makes even the food and the shopping better, there is this foundation laid for then layering your experiences — the foundation is undeniably the most important to have in my opinion.
So let me begin by showing you some beautiful imagery and then I’ll pull together another post tomorrow taking you to some gorgeous shops, at least a few, so you can see a few places that really inspired me (and emptied my wallet!)…
I was really intrigued by these Ottoman-style miniature paintings, they are painted onto vintage book pages, and were quite colorful and beautiful. I bought a few of them, I’ll show you maybe tomorrow. I’d love for you to see them. I also found some gorgeous shops loaded with sumptuous Turkish towels for the bath, hands, kitchen, every shape and texture and pattern… Gorgeous Suzani pillows were in many shops and quite inexpensive when compared to the prices you’d find them selling for in Europe or America. I bought two pillows and they’re quite lovely, mine were made from vintage Uzbekistan Suzani textiles and quite gorgeous. If you like them, you can see more here and also buy them online at this shop.
These bowls are from my personal collection, I’ve had them for awhile but I wanted to show them to you again in the photo above since they are quite pretty and you can find them everywhere in Istanbul.
I was fortunate in that I did do some light research before I left but I also have a friend who is Turkish, her name is Esra Celik, and she was kind enough to plan our adventure so that I was able to see some landmarks but also discover some of the nooks that I longed to find along the way. Having a friend to guide you certainly is a luxury because they not only know your taste well enough to take you to places that you’ll actually like, but they are fun to simply be with! Plus, Esra speaks fluent Turkish so whenever we ran into a language barrier, she started speaking Turkish and everything was fine. Plus, she’s just so sweet and cute and very, very generous and open-minded — the best things you could desire in a travel partner. It was a great time!
Here are some more impressions from Istanbul — of course these are just snippets so if you want to see full size images and more impressions feel free to visit this folder on Flickr that I’ve set up specifically to share with you. I hope that you enjoy it!
Lots of the photos above where taken in the Sultanahmet (Hippodrome) district of the city, the historical area where the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are located — and where we also happened to stay. In fact, the roof dining area of our hotel overlooked the Blue Mosque – it was such a pretty view of the mosque and the sea with fresh salty air, seagulls, and gorgeous fog in the morning over the city (and late at night) which I loved so much… The room shots above were taken in the gorgeous Topkapi Palace – an Istanbul “must see” attraction. Sadly, the palace kitchens were closed for renovations so we missed them but we saw the rest of the palace, including the Harem, and it was just lovely.
I hope you enjoyed these tiny glimpses into my vacation. Tomorrow I’ll share with you more lovely images and some fantastic shops that you simply must visit while in this gorgeous city by the sea.
(images: holly becker for decor8)
I’m taking a long weekend (ha ha beginning on a Wednesday, it’s nice to own your own company isn’t it?!?) and flying to Istanbul in a few hours! I’ll be in Turkey on a long overdue vacation since I’ve not taken a single one this entire year. By the time most of you read this post I’ll be there and I’m staying until Monday so I’ll blog again as soon as I get home to share trip highlights with you. I plan to use all of the wonderful links you left here on this post, so thanks for your amazing help. I can’t wait to see such a vibrant, historical and lovely city by the sea. It should be quite an experience.
I will meet you back here again on Monday and then I’ll be blogging again full-time until my next trip in January where I’ll be spending a week in Paris but until then, you have me 100% — just like old times! :)
Much love to you, dear readers.
(image: rugs from dhoku – I plan to check them out while there…)
I thought I’d share some glimpses of my travels with you today to take you on a visual journey so that you can see what I saw while I was teaching for 8 days in Morocco. You already had a peek in on where I stayed (drool!), so here are some glimpses of what I saw and was inspired by… Visiting a place like Morocco, so different from my homeland and culture, truly leaves an impression that lasts a lifetime. I was so humbled by the friendly faces, kindness of the people and by the way most live there in the villages with very little, and who work so very hard to keep what they have, yet still wear the biggest smiles and have such joy of heart — and the cats are everywhere and very, very happy too.
Here are a few of my favorite places to eat, see and shop:
* We missed seeing the Le Jardin Marjorelle but it came highly suggested only after we already had our plans set… Maybe another lifetime…
* Bahia Palace – Gorgeous, gorgeous!!! Go!!!
* Enjoy a hamman bath or spa treatment at a 600+ year old spa calledBains de Marrakech. Just make sure you go at the day’s end and then after, spend some time lounging in your hotel room. Don’t go to Bains de Marrakech and expect to shop and tour the city afterwards! You will be very rested, relaxed and well-oiled so you will most likely want to go chill out in your room. Make sure you book your appointment weeks in advance, thought.
Shop: The souks are great but there are a few special shops in the medina and other parts of the city that I highly recommend…
* For affordable and beautiful clothes and great shoes and accessories, shop at Warda la Mouche. This local designer is so talented and very friendly. She’s French — she speaks some English as well.
* For spices, I liked Riad des Epices at 56 laksour derb Zefriti in the medina. Try to see if you can get a spice presentation where they’ll let you sample everything as they explain how to use the various spices and oils that they sell. Also ask them if you can go up on their roof deck to see over the city and to take photos. It’s gorgeous up there, especially right around sunset.
* Zid Zid Kids studio and showroom
* L’Orientaliste – I didn’t get to see their shop at Rue de la Liberte in Geliz but my husband found their perfume at some random shop and bought it – and loves it! It’s a brand made in Morocco and smells delightful.
* For fine leather bags, go to Place Vendome at 141 Avenue Mohammed V, I bought a gorgeous silvered leather bag for about $150 US that I’m sure would be around double or triple back home.
* For gorgeous Indian and Moroccan fashion and homewares head to Michele Baconnier. I bought a gorgeous lamp, two scarfs and a beautiful pair of white leather slippers there.
* Kif Kif – A must see! I went to two of their shops and bought jewelry, a bag and a few other accessories. Lots of recycled and re-purposed goods and very fresh and modern. Loved Kif Kif!
* If you want an ABC Carpet experience outside of New York, visit Mustapha Blaoui at 144 Rue Bab Doukkala. This man sources the best stuff from carpets to textiles, ceramics and more. Lots of gorgeous lighting, too and he is fair with his prices. I took home a bed cover and some candle holders.
* I didn’t get to visit Kulchi (near Kif Kif) at 1 Rue El Ksour, I forgot to write it down on my list! But I heard that it’s the best place for fashion so make sure you add it to your list and make me proud. :)
* I loved the shop + Michi at 19-21 Souk Lakchachbia. I took home some gorgeous slippers from that store of the highest quality. I heard that John Derian shops there for his New York stores so that already tells you something about + Michi – right?! I am still kicking myself for passing by this gorgeous polka-dot shirt there…
* Cafe des epices — Great food, cheap, fresh, fast and very easy to get to after a long morning shopping in the souks! We went twice and loved it. Order the vegetarian sandwich or a salad with fresh tuna – both are delicious!
* Our plans changed so we missed having dinner at Palais Soleiman, which made me nearly cry, but if you are lucky enough to get to eat there please tell me all about it…
* Have a cocktail at the gorgeous Hotel La Mamounia. What a gorgeous lounge they have there and drinks may be a bit expensive BUT they come with finger food so hey… why not! When I become rich and famous someday (ha!) I will stay here as well. It as pure luxury!
* Djemaa el Fna at night and eat at one of the many fantastic food tents. When you see the snake charmers, monkey handlers and others in the square, always tip them for a photo. Make sure you buy a coconut cookie if you see anyone selling them – they are delicious!
Psst: If you are going to Morocco soon, pick up the terrific guide Shopping in Marrakesh by Susan Simon.
(images: holly becker for decor8)