November 24, 2010
Sydney shopping: Bird Textile Emporium
In the first of my Sydney shop reviews, I decided to head back to my old stomping ground of Surry Hills, where we lived for three happy years before we moved to London. It’s changed a wee bit since then – most significantly, we can’t afford to live there any more. And like Shoreditch in London, this inner-city suburb has not only ushered in a new class of residents, but a new direction in retail with the likes of posh grocers and upmarket butchers lining Crown Street.
But head down to Cleveland Street and you’ll find a bit of the grit from days gone by, even if the retail scene has vastly improved. In fact, the line-up of unique and eclectic shops, cafes and restaurants call themselves The Cleveland Cluster, and include the likes of David Met Nicole (review coming soon), Dinosaur Designs Extinct and Garden Life.
I couldn’t go past Bird Textile Emporium for my very first Sydney shop review (not with a name like that, anyway). The brainchild of creative director Rachel Bending, Bird produces a range of hand-printed organic fabrics, which have been developed into over fifty product ranges spanning fashion, homewares and craft. The whole business has solid eco credentials with a commitment to sustainable design.
Housed in a heritage-listed former pharmacy dating from the 1890s, the shop is a delightful space and rare example of Sydney’s retail history, featuring old Australian tiles, the original cabinetry and fittings. It’s a fitting platform for Bird’s range of retro-inspired textiles, which are influenced by mid-century Scandinavian and Japanese design.
Fabric is sold by the metre in three different weights, and there is also an in-house upholstery and curtain-making service. The fashion range has been recently pared down to a tidy capsule collection of five classic designs, which are available in a host of fabrics.
But it’s the homewares and crafty ranges that are the main attraction, with made-to-order lampshades (starting at AU$220) amongst the store’s best-sellers. Equally popular is the chook doorstop (AU$75), packets of buttons and fabric remnants at $25 each.
Bird Textile Emporium
380 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tel. 02 8399 0230
Tuesday to Friday 10am-6pm
Refuel at Tea Parlour
Take tea and nibble on dainty scones and sandwiches. Prices are very reasonable, too.
579 Elizabeth St
Redfern NSW 2016
Open Thursday to Sunday 1pm-8pm
Tel. 0414 335 224