July 24, 2008
London shopping: Ryantown
It's no secret that I adore Rob Ryan. I mean, what’s not to love? The man is as much obsessed with bird, flower and plant motifs as I am, and his extraordinary paper-cutting talents are constantly called upon for creative collaborations by the likes of Paul Smith, Liberty and Vogue.
So when I got the fluro-pink birdy invitation to the opening of his very first shop on Columbia Road recently, I was there in a (tiny sparrow’s) heartbeat. Ryantown isn’t hard to miss, with its jaunty new lick of turquoise-blue paint and gleeful cursive signage. Inside, the bijou shop has the air of a gallery space, with an eye-catching floor-to-ceiling tile mural and Ryan’s artwork dotted around the walls.
Now, keep in mind that a mid-week evening soiree on Columbia Road bears little resemblance to the heaving begonia-laden crowds who flock to the street for the famous Flower Markets every Sunday. So I took full advantage of the distinct lack of people and peonies for a closer inspection of Ryan’s new wares.
Taking pride of place above the mantle are rows of Ryan’s hand screen-printed tiles, which are fired nearby in his studio’s kiln. At £24, these miniature artworks are ultra-affordable, and have already attracted a loyal following of shoppers on Etsy. Displayed together in a palette of muted brights, it’s hard to resist these perfect little pieces of Ryanisms. At the other end of the scale are Ryan’s limited edition prints from £350 and incredible paper artworks from £2000 (unframed).
But I was keen to suss out Ryan’s new products, and spied a range of laser-cut wooden keys-to-my-heart at £16 and rolls of chunky tape featuring a blue and white neighbourhood tableau at £10. I know that nobody needs a decorative roll of tape for £10, but wait until you clap eyes on these little beauties and see if you can resist their demand to be picked up and lovingly stuck to brown paper packages and the like.
There’s also a brand new range of exclusive t-shirts, some gorgeous paper-cut cards at a very reasonable £2.50, and signed copies of Ryan’s book, This is for You, at £12. You can also pick up the Clothkits make-your-own Rob Ryan skirt for £46.
I’m told that more stock is on its way, with a rather enticing promise of new pieces rolling in every week. For instance, a range of one-off ceramic platters and vases will be regularly added to the shop, and new “height rulers for human beings”– great for kids’ rooms – will be arriving in-store soon. A wee birdy also told me about an upcoming stool in collaboration with furniture designer Michael Marriott. Busy times for Mister Rob – and I’ll definitely be coming back on Sundays for more (battling the begonias and all).
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