A recent trip to the opening of the Mini Moderns Pop-Up Shoppe brought me to Columbia Road. I have been meaning to go to Columbia Road since I moved to London 12 years ago, although I have to confess it was the flower market that I’d heard about. The shops weren’t on my radar at all. They are now, so I popped back during daylight hours and here’s what I found…
Before I even get to the shops, there are lots of interesting little corners to catch your eye – and so much colour! It gives the whole area a really creative vibe. (And you have to read this post imagining loud London accents shouting prices of flowers and Christmas trees over each other… ” roses a pound” “any red tagged trees a tenner”!)
What a shopfront! Nelly Duff (cockney rhyming slang for ‘life’ – life, breath, puff, duff) has been on Columbia Road since 2005 and is a gallery and shop specialising in artists at the forefront of the street, tattoo and graphic art world. They also stock my little design book Interviews.
Now you know I’m a sucker for a bit of stationery, but you might not know I’m also somewhat of a Francophile, so a shop dedicated entirely to incredibly high quality stationery run by two very chic French ladies had me very excited indeed.
Choosing Keeping is my new favorite shop! I am absolutely in love with the pencil sharpener on the left and the Craft Design Technology HB pencils on the far right. I suspect they’d be too lovely to use though – always my problem with stationery!
I also loved Suck & Chew, run by another very stylish couple – you can tell we’re in East London! In their words, “we’re a family business who peddle Rhubarb and Custard, Kola Kubes and the like out of our little shop.” I can’t promise I didn’t leave without more than a couple of red candy striped paper bags!
And of course no trip to Columbia Road would be complete without at least popping your head into Ryantown, home of Rob Ryan products galore. Ryantown came about, as so often seems to be the way on this street, when Rob received a call from a friend asking if he would like to take over the space. When designing the shop, he looked to other artist-inspired retail outlets like the Omega Workshops based in Fitzroy Square in London in 1913 to the Keith Haring Pop Shop in Lafayette Street NYC in the 1980s for inspiration. It’s a calm, gallery-like space which provides a haven from the chaos outside!
Treacle combines tea and cakes with more stationery and design-led accessories. I could have stayed in there all day!
It is also little glimpses of colour, like these three doorways that create a sense of excitement and inspiration.
Nom Living works with artisans in Vietnam and Cambodia to create handcrafted and sustainable interiors products. They had lots of really lovely products that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
And last but not least, at the far end of the road is 2 Columbia Road, with a fabulous selection of midcentury furniture and accessories, including the gorgeous white Eames DAR armchairs – one day! In the meantime, Happy New Year and all the best for an awesome 2013!
Further reading for the especially geeky: