Freelance writer Dan Jones has lived in London for years – and he’s got around: Shoreditch, Herne Hill, Hackney, Victoria Park, Stoke Newington and now Clapton. He’s written for i-D Magazine as shopping editor, ASOS.com as senior men’s ed, is media consultant to fashion brand Antipodium, and was Time Out London’s Shopping & Style editor for four years (where he was also my mentor and boss), covering everything from LFW to funeral parlours – so he’s acquired a big list of London’s best/weirdest bits.
You can follow Dan on his shiny new blog dedicated to London stores and style, JONESTOWN, and on Twitter @jonessecret. In the meantime, here is Dan’s Secret London. Enjoy!
Best shop in London for atmosphere? Mysteries
My mum is a bit of a witch. When I was a kid she’d take me to her favourite New Age shop, Mysteries, on our day trips into London. Being a young cynic, I’d roll my eyes at the dreamcatchers and chakra candles, but when I rediscovered the shop a few years ago, I finally saw how special it is – especially if you suspend all irony. Fancy an amethyst geode as big as your head? Done. Books on faeries and spells? Smudge sticks? Angel cards? Got it. In the market for a polished crystal that looks a bit like Gandalf’s dildo? You’ve come to the right place. Hidden at the back of the shop is a slightly slimy-looking grotto with a babbling water feature, encrusted with crystals and icons, and upstairs you can get your fortune told by Mysteries’ psychic staff and Tarot readers. Magic.
Best in London for vintage? Princess May Car Boot Sale
Just north of Dalston, opposite Beyond Retro’s huge Stoke Newington High Street store, is one of London’s best car boot sales. The mix of sellers is intriguing – from local trendies selling off their Topshop Unique cast-offs, to seasoned car booters (who tend to drive a hard bargain) selling knick knacks. It all makes for a great breadth of tat to pick through. On a hot summer’s weekend the sale is packed with browsers and sellers who cram themselves creatively into every corner of the grounds, selling from trestle tables and blankets.
Scoring a great car boot bargain is one of my greatest turn ons and Princess May rarely disappoints. On my last visit I picked up a Death Row Records cap, a Florida Gators sweatshirt, an old leather Camel cigarettes wallet – and possibly my best ever car boot find – a large ceramic bust of Arnold Schwartzenegger as The Terminator for £8. I didn’t even haggle. As I walked away from the stall the seller said, in a creepy Austrian accent, “you’ll be back.” No shit.
Best shop in London for gifts? Donlon Books
Navigating Broadway Market on a Saturday is sometimes a bit overwhelming – you might not always be in the mood for the crowds and gluten-free cakes, squeezing through the shoppers and poseurs, squinting so your eye isn’t poked out by a chocolate eclair. Donlon Books makes it all worth it.
At the north end of the market and usually manned by Conor Donlon, you can browse an excellent selection of art, fashion and culture books (new and old), and magazines, fanzines and cards. It’s great for gifts. I always find something that’s relevant to a friend’s dubious obsession, whether it’s a book on 1970s Australian drag artists or film ephemera from the collection of John Waters himself – Cry Baby tissues or a Serial Mom baseball cap.
Best shop in London for food? Lina Stores
It’s not much of a secret – Lina Stores has held its own in Soho’s red light district since the ‘30s – but the Italian deli just keeps getting better. The small shop had a bit of a makeover a couple of years back – and achieved the impossible: updating the place to feel thoroughly contemporary but preserving its traditional quirks.
You can have a quick snack or a coffee at the standing tables or buy up big from the impressive stock at the fresh counter (cheeses, charcuterie, etc) or the shelves (biscotti, Venchi treats). The homemade bits are best: pumpkin and sage or veal tortellini, pesto. The fresh pork and fennel sausages usually make the shelves in the early afternoon (amazing rolled up into meatballs at home).
Your number one London shopping secret? Casa Mexico
I discovered Casa Mexico last year – although I’d walked past it lots of times on my way to the Antipodium studio in Bethnal Green. A few earthenware pots at the entrance had always made me think the place was a ceramic store, something to do with tiles or garden furniture – a bit boring. Still, I decided to try it out one day and it’s good I did.
Inside it’s all Day of the Dead dolls, handwoven rugs, pinata and paper fiesta decorations, bottled sodas and beers, fresh tortilla – and those ceramic garden pots. The Casa team have opened a Mexican pastry counter next door that’ll be selling tacos come September. In the main store, check out the genuine Caballeros cowboy boots, shirts and hats and Lucha Libre wrestling masks, or pick up some religious candles (£4.50 for Jesus) and proper Mexican sweets. Steer clear of the hot salted tamarind candies though – the packaging’s great but they taste like death.
The London trend you’re loving right now?
Okay, it may not be the best news for the nervous eater, or those prone to bouts of heartburn or animal welfare, but this past summer in London was all about the grill. Dirty burgers, chunks of bone marrow, pulled pork, barbecued ribs… Alongside the stars of the BBQ scene – Meat Liquor, Meat Market and Pit Cue Co. – there are a few relative newcomers that are worth checking out: Burnt Enz at the Climpson Roastery (currently closed for winter) is less about classic BBQ sauces and more about using the grill to cook posh things like scallops, quail and more traditional stuff like lamb ribs with mint or beef brisket. Elliot’s Cafe at Borough Market collaborated with Raw – Borough’s wine fair – in the form of a pop-up burger stand selling aged beef patties with beer-braised onions, Comte and a brioche bun… it’s totally dirty – in a good way.
1. The Animal Olympics
Can you see one of Charlotte Cory’s brilliantly bonkers artworks lining the centuries-old walls of Windsor Castle? Apparently it’s true, and word is that the Queen is a huge fan of the London artist. (I’d believe anything after her starring role in the James Bond skit). You can see what all the fuss is about at Charlotte’s current exhibition, ‘The Sporting Champions’ at her gallery in Greenwich. There are Victorian rabbit wrestlers, parrot cyclists and kangaroo cricketers, as well as hand-crafted Victorian medals. But where are the corgi beach volleyball players? Probably hanging her Her Maj’s bedroom. Until 20 August, 2012.
The Green Parrot Gallery, Greenwich 73 Lassell Street London SE10 9PJ Nearest transport: Greenwich rail/Cutty Sark DLR Click here for a Wee Birdy map. Opening hours: Fridays 11am-6pm
2. The Karl Olympics
Even the likes of iconic Chanel fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld, couldn’t resist taking on the Olympics with a limited-edition capsule collection for Selfridges. His new pop-up shop on the third floor, named Team Karl, is home to a range of Olympics-inspired fashion and accessories including medal-emblazoned t-shirts and gold-splattered Karl motif tote bags. There are also a few men’s items currently available online. Selfridges 400 Oxford Street London W1A 1AB
Nearest tube: Bond Street
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.
Opening hours until Monday 13 August: Monday to Saturday 10am-10pm Sunday 10am-8pm
[Image via Blog Deluxe Online]
3. The PopUp Olympics
Head to this pop-up shop in Greenwich throughout the Olympic period and discover some of London’s best designer-makers from Cockpit Arts and various studios. Take your pick from art prints, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, homewares, beauty products and lighting by the likes of Lorna Syson, MacMaster Design, Naomi Ryder and Siobhan McIntosh. Until Thursday 23 August, 2012. PopUp@Greenwich 20 Nelson Street London, SE10 9JB Nearest transport: Greenwich rail/Cutty Sark DLR Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12 noon-8pm Sunday 12 noon-5pm
4. The Goodhood Olympics
Hackney is one of the host boroughs of the London Olympics, and it’s also home to some of London’s coolest and most fashion-forward boutiques, including The Goodhood Store. Based in Hoxton for over five years, the store stocks a line-up of covetable brands including P.A.M, Antipodium, Surface to Air and Peter Jensen. To celebrate the borough’s Olympic status, Goodhood has designed a limited-edition t-shirt, which goes on sale today in store and online for £35. The Goodhood Store 41 Coronet Store London N16HD Nearest tube: Old Street Click here for a Wee Birdy map. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-6.30pm Sunday 12 noon-5pm 5. The Retro Olympics
London’s legendary vintage shop, Retro to Go, has gone for retro gold with their collection of original sportswear from the ’70s to ’90s, like this Olympic Karate t-shirt. Check out the range in store (there are three shops in London) or online. Retro to Go 110-112 Cheshire Street London E2 6EJ Tel. 020 7613 3636 Nearest tube: Liverpool Street Click here for a Wee Birdy map. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am-7pm Thursday 10am to 8pm Sunday 11.30am-6pm
Happy blogday to me, Happy blogday to me, Happy blogday dear birrrrrdy, Happy blogday to me!
Five years ago today I sat down at the kitchen table in my wee flat on Kingsland Road, East London, opened up a Blogspot account, and starting writing about some the little shops I had discovered and loved in my neighbourhood. My very first post was about Labour and Wait, which was then located on Cheshire Street – it’s since moved to nearby Redchurch Street.
How things have changed – and not changed. I’ve since landed my dream job at Time Out London, had drinks with Sarah Brown and London’s fashion elite at Number 10 Downing Street, attended London Fashion Week, met the most amazing and inspirational people, fallen in love with my readers, moved back to Sydney, had a baby, stopped blogging for a while, moved to WordPress and started blogging again, this time with my favourite Sydney shops and happenings added to the Wee Birdy mix.
To celebrate Wee Birdy’s 5th birthday, I’m giving away FIVE fabulous prizes over the next FIVE days. Each prize is something I truly love and hand-picked especially for you, my dearest and most lovely readers.
TODAY’S PRIZE IS A LEGENDARY TATTY DEVINE NAME NECKLACE. Design your very own Tatty Devine name necklace in your choice of words, lettering, charm and colour – they’ve just launched a lovely new lilac hue to their collection. Use the clever online tool which allows you to see a mock-up of your custom-made design. I used it to make the ‘Happy Birthday Wee Birdy’ message above.
I’m delighted to kick off a birthday week of celebrations on Wee Birdy with Tatty Devine, as it’s an East London brand that encapsulates all the things I love – London; hand-made; excellent design; independent retailer; awesome female entrepreneurs – and it’s also one of the shops I first blogged about back in 2007.
Most recently, Tatty Devine launched their Name Necklace Now service at their Covent Garden store on Monmouth Street. Design your own custom name necklace and have it made on the spot by the new in-store lasercutter. It’s just one of their innovative initiatives that’s keeping independent retail alive and well – as well as adding a touch of hand-crafted genius to the retail landscape of central London.
Check out this video below which shows the process of a Name Necklace being lasercut and finished by hand at Tatty Devine’s East London workshop.
Also, as a special birthday present for ALL Wee Birdy readers, the awesome girls at Tatty Devine are offering £5 off when you spend over £30 at tattydevine.com. Use the discount code WEEBIRDY5, which is valid until 31 July, 2012.
HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
Follow these two steps to win:
1. To qualify to win, you must follow or ‘like’ Wee Birdy on either Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter – or all three if you like! If you’re already following me on one of these platforms, you are automatically qualified to win.
2. Leave a comment in the comments section of this post and ensure you enter your email address in the space provided (your email address will not be published).
The competition closes on Saturday 21 July, 2012 at 5pm AEST. Winners will be drawn at random on Sunday 22 July. Winners will be announced and contacted by email on Monday 23 July, 2012. Winners have one week to respond to the initial email from Wee Birdy confirming that they have won. If Wee Birdy doesn’t hear from the winner of each prize within a week, the winner/s will forfeit their prize and Wee Birdy will randomly draw another winner/s.
It’s here, it’s finally here! The modernist’s guide to shopping for mid-century furniture and decor in London.
First stop is The Midcentury Show at Lords on Sunday, where 50 vintage dealers from around the UK will be showcasing their wares to modern enthusiasts. Sign up to their mailing list for news about their excellent events, which are held several times a year.
The Midcentury Show
Sunday 27th May 2012
10am – 4pm
Lord’s Cricket Ground
St John’s Wood
London NW8 8QN
Entrance £7 on the day
Early entry for trade 9am (£9)
Children under 14 free (note that baby buggies are not permitted inside)
Now, as many of you are aware, there are a great deal of vintage shops that stock mid 20th-century pieces, but I’ve tried to stick to places that deal almost exclusively with furniture and decor from this period. Here are my top picks, which I’ve also sorted by area.
Specialising in Scandinavian mid-century furniture, this relatively new shop also features exhibitions and collaborations with new artists.
115 Clerkenwell Rd
London EC1R 5BY
Chase & Sorensen
This café-shop in East London specialises exclusively in mid-century Danish modern furniture, with new deliveries arriving direct from Denmark every few weeks.
238-B Dalston Lane
London E8 1LQ
Tel. 8533 5523
With a special focus on reupholstered chairs and lounges, this East London shop offers a variety of mid-century modern furniture, lighting and objects.
32 Seal Street
London E8 2EE
Tel. 7881 953 708
Two Columbia Road
Featuring a well-considered collection of 20th century furniture, lighting, art and objects, Two Columbia Road stocks many original pieces by the likes of Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, Arne Voder and Charles Eames.
2 Columbia Road
London E2 7NN
Tel. 7729 9933
A carefully-edited selection of modernist 20th century furniture, art and collectables, with a touch of playfulness thanks to the addition of quirky retro toys and accessories.
8 Cheshire Street
London E2 6EH
Tel. 020 7613 3355
Specialising in furniture, lighting and décor from the 1930s to the 1960s, this shop is just the tip of the mid-century iceberg. More treasures can be found at Bent Ply’s stand at Alfies Antiques Market, which is just around the corner.
95 Lisson Grove
London NW1 6UP
Mob. 07711 940 931
Tel. 0207 725 9515
Antik Modern at Albam Clothing
An unlikely source for mid-century furniture and décor is men’s fashion boutique Albam Clothing, which stocks select pieces from Antik Modern in their Soho, Spitalfields, Islington and Covent Garden stores.
Alfies Antique Market
Housed in a former Edwardian department store, Alfies is home to roughly 60 dealers with some really incredible stalls representing mid-century modern design. It’s one of my favourite London destinations for vintage, but the sheer size of the place can sometimes be overwhelming. It’s a bit of a bugger to get to in terms of public transport, but it’s worth the hike from Marylebone tube.
13-25 Church Street
London NW8 8DT
Tel. 020 7723 6066
The modern enthusiast should make a beeline for the Quad and Decoratum in the basement:
The Quad, Basement.
Stocks an impressive range of furniture by the likes of Alvar Aalto, Gerald Summers, Marcel Breuer, Ernest Race and Hans Wegner. There is also a stand-alone shop around the corner on Lisson Grove.
Tel: 7724 6969
Boasting over 5,000 square feet dedicated to vintage mid-century furniture, lighting and accessories, Decoratum is a modernist’s dream. Purchases can be shipped worldwide.
Here are my other picks for MCM at Alfies:
Stand G077-78 and 91-92
Tel. 07955 085 723
20th century glass, pottery, chrome and stainless steel.
Stand G001-G005 and G050
Tel. 07811 008 144
20th century furniture, lighting and collectables.
Mob. 07990 523891
20th century furniture, glass, ceramics lighting and jewellery.
20th century Italian furniture, ceramics and décor including pieces by Gio Ponti, Paolo Buffa and Osvaldo Borsani.
Mob. 07981 374 909
Mid-century lighting and furniture mixed with industrial pieces.
Stand SO48-49, 59-60
Tel. 020 7723 6066
1930s to 1960s homewares, textiles, barware, furniture, ceramics, glassware, ephemera, collectables, kitsch, bakelite, record players, games and lighting.
Designs of Modernity
Located in the basement of Crystal Palace Antiques and Modern, Designs of Modernity offers a good range of Scandinavian, British and American 20th century furniture, lighting and décor.
London SE19 1SG
Tel. 07966 285 694
2 Cross Street
London N1 2BL
Tel. 07979 650805
With a line-up of 20th century furniture and décor, Fandango mixes classics by Arne Jacobsen with lesser-known pieces and objects.
133 Newington Green Road
London N1 4RA
Tel. 7226 5727
A warm and eclectic mix of classic ‘big names’ with an assortment of lesser known or anonymous ‘50s and ‘60s coffee tables, chairs and accessories.
Specialising exclusively in Danish solid rosewood furniture, Paere Dansk sells both original vintage pieces by the likes of JL Moller alongside new editions of the original designs.
13 Stratford Road
London W8 6RF
Tel. +44 7771 861939
Some of the best mid-century modern dealers in London have warehouses and showrooms which are only open by appointment. I’ll list my top picks in tomorrow’s post, so please do check back in.
Do you love mid-century modern furniture? Do you have a favourite shop in your area?
The lacy scalloped edges lend themselves beautifully to a range of necklaces, rings, cuffs and headpieces, and you can just about picture Tatty's lovely girls reaching across the jam-smeared paper doily for the very last crumbs of the Victorian Sponge.
The heart-shaped ring is excellent value at £15, and would make a rather lovely Valentine's Day gift, but I'm also quite taken by the cupid's arrow brooch, £27. Gotta love those Tatty girls, they get it right all the time.