So, it turned out that there are just too many really great contemporary design shops in the UK to fit into one post. Here, then are some more. It has been pointed out on this site, and elsewhere, that for those of you living outside the capital, exposure to good design can be hard so for that reason, part I included stores in Sheffield, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh and Liverpool. This collection is a little more London-based but they all sell online and, for those of you feeling cross in Cornwall and the Cotswolds, do send me your suggestions and we can add them in. It’s about making these directories a resource that works for all of you.
The store was founded in 1985 by Sheridan Coakley who wanted to sell classic and hard-to-find pieces but also to try his hand at producing new designs. One year later, SCP was at Milan showing the first ever manufactured designs by Matthew Hilton and Jasper Morrison, now two of the UK’s foremost designers. The company continues to develop new products every year with an increasing number of designers, many of whom were “discovered” by SCP. The store regularly features in lists and awards as one of London’s finest.
TWENTY TWENTY ONE
Twenty Twenty One was opened in 1993 to source and sell original modern furniture. The brief has now expanded to include modern classics from Scandinavia, Europe and the US. The owners are knowledgeable and passionate about 20th century design but they have some great contemporary pieces too. As the business has expanded, so the company has now moved into manufacturing and distributing its own designs. There’s a huge range of products online and, unlike some stores, the price is always given. It’s a pet hate of mine that sometimes you have to ring up or email and ask. Yes, it probably is true that if you have to ask you can’t afford it, but sometimes it’s just good to know what sort of ballpark you have strayed into.
Occa-Home began life as an architectural and interior design service but then founder Kate Mooney realised that there was a huge amount of frustration from customers who liked the looks she was creating but couldn’t find where to source the products for themselves. In addition to a huge range of products available to buy online, her team have also created a number of boutique collections designed to help you decide how to pull a look together.
Zeev Aram opened his shop on the King’s Road in 1964, much to the consternation of passers-by. It might have been the swinging sixties for fashion but when it came to interiors, Aram was way way ahead of the pack. He would stand outside listening to people as they walked past. The comments ranged from “rubbish” to “clinical” and Aram even received hate mail! He was thrilled to have produced a reaction and when Terence Conran, opened the first branch of Habitat a few months later, the public finally realised that there was a modern alternative to chintz. The store is now in the heart of Covent Garden, and Aram is just as excited by good design as he was back then.
The clue’s in the name really. The Eames chairs might be American but that’s an Arne Jacobsen light on the table and that mix of white, wood and a tiny pop of colour is classic Scandi-style. If you watched The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen taking as much delight in the sets as the plots then this is the store for you. Set up by a Swede, a Dane and a Finn, their aim was to be the best retailer of Scandinavian furniture in the world and they are exclusive agents for several lines.
Set up in 1998 by Lina Kanafani, Mint offers an interesting mix of contemporary designs mixed up with exlusive one-offs. Everything is presented in the context of a living space, which does make for a great way to browse around the store. If you’re online, you need to be a little more patient as things are constantly moving and sliding around the screen and while I love the tumbling hippos, I am less keen on the fact that the prices aren’t there. Still, it’s as interesting a mix as you are likely to find anywhere and, as you can only browse online not buy, perhaps you don’t need the prices for that.
Viaduct is the sole agent for a number of designers but says it will source and supply most of the big names. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable and the store offers a full constultancy service. Or you can just buy what you need online. The website is clean, clear and quick, which is always a plus.
Established online six years ago, Go Modern now has a shop on the Kings Road, but the website is a great place to start. The prices are there, the photography is lifestyle, but you can also see it close-up and from several angles. They stock a large range of Italian furniture but it’s not just about the big names – although they are here too.