The Curious Shop Series: L O I S

We have been trying to figure out what it is about some shops that make us squeal with delight the moment we walk in. You know what we mean, like Anthropologie, Closet & Botts, or The Hambledon… It could just have been that we like everything nice/colourful/quirky; after many heated discussions, we realised it came down to one thing: plenty of eye-candy, wherever the eye falls.

ImageThe inside of The Hambledon (image from The Hambledon)

That eye-candy doesn’t just happen; plenty of brainstorming, planning, mood boarding, and long hours to get the perfect display (check out Tiffany’s behind-the-scenes at Habitat here on visual merchandising). But before that can even happen, there needs to exist great product from great designers and craftsmen. It’s a bit like magic, isn’t it? We are starting a “The Curious Shop” series (we don’t know what to name the series yet, so any ideas are very welcome!!!), featuring our favourite British retailers who have impressed us with their stunning interiors and stylish choice of items.

For our first of this series, we spoke to L O I S, a new shop in Peckham, which scours the land for handmade homewares, lovingly made in the UK. We love that L O I S gets to know the designers well, so that they can share all that creative genius with whoever walks into their shop. We asked Helen Ward, owner of L O I S, to give you some ideas on getting your home looking swanky and beautifully curated, especially if you are renting. Over to you, Helen!


The thing with rented accommodation is that itʼs tinted with the underlying knowledge that the place in which you live isnʼt your own. Unless your landlord is particularly relaxed, you probably canʼt paint anything. Itʼs possible you wonʼt be able to stick things on walls, or hang pictures off nails. They might have a ʻno petsʼ policy, and (least favourite in my eyes) you may be confronted with heavy fire safe doors that slam shut even when propped open with an anvil, making each room somewhat institutional.


How do you make it feel like a home? How do you impress your personality, your style on somewhere where you donʼt make the rules?


Luckily, thatʼs where ʻstuffʼ comes in. ʻStuffʼ is the trimmings. Itʼs the icing on what might otherwise be a fairly plain and boring cake. Itʼs the colourful sofa throws, the patterned cushions, and the hilarious tea towels. Itʼs the moveable feast of personal touches that you transport and add to whenever your lease is up.

I love stuff. Iʼm positively rolling in it. And I love suggesting new stuff to people on the look out for something special to add to their collection. Here are some of my latest picks.


1. Alice Shields – Illustrated Mugs – £12 each

If you donʼt have a solid mug from which to slurp a decent brew, youʼve pretty much fallen at the first hurdle. Aliceʼs witty illustrations adorn these bone china mugs and make every cuppa a treat.


2. Imogen Luddy – Doilie Coasters – £16/ set of four

Imogenʼs doilie-inspired coasters play with traditional notions of femininity and masculinity – lace doilies v. laser cutting acrylic. Aside from that, they make a unique and different addition to your coffee table.

3. Harley Boden – Rock Mugs – £15 each  (image below)

There are few times in life when a mug can act as a conversation starter. However, with Harley Bodenʼs designs, itʼs happened on more than one occasion. Decorated with illustrations of various UK rock formations, you can drink from several geological locations including Dartmoor (pictured), York, Arran, and Stowe.


4. Lucie Sheridan – Sausage Dog Coasters – £10/ set of two (image above)

Youʼll find sausage dogs in a lot of Lucieʼs work. And why not! If you canʼt have a real pet in your rented flat, these coasters are a pretty stylish substitute.


5. Jonna Saarinen – Screen Printed Tea Towels – £11 each

Jonna used colourful memories of her grandmother and the natural world of her native Finland as inspiration for her eco-friendly textiles collection. And as we all know, thereʼs nothing quite like a ʻraveʼ tea towel to brighten up your kitchen – itʼs kind of the domestic equivalent of a night on the town.


6. ticktacktoe – Cushions – £50 each; £35 for cover alone

Brother and sister design team ticktacktoe have created these simple, elegant cushions to adorn sofas everywhere. And the neutral tones means theyʼll look great with most colour schemes. Even the bright green your landlord decided to use in the living room…


7. Paul Farrell – Cushions – £45 each; £35 for covers alone

Paulʼs cushion designs are great because they show a different colour scheme on each side. So you can simply flip them over if you want a change. His screen prints are also fantastic.


Prints are a brilliant way to brighten up a room, and if youʼve got a picture rail, youʼve got the added bonus of being able to hang thing up without damaging the walls with nails and pins.


8. Hanna Melin – Prints – £20 each

You may well be sharing your rented flat or house with a tiny person. Be they baby, child, or just someone whoʼs young at heart, Hannaʼs prints are bound to raise a smile and add some much needed individual style to a room.


9. Lou Taylor – Swimmers Print – £40 each

Thereʼs a lovely Art Deco feel to this print, and something about the red swimming caps harks back to an era of 1920s silent movies and all the accompanying glamour. All of which makes it a super print to have in your home.

10. David Sparshott – Bike Print – £67.50 each

For bike fanatics everywhere! A keen cyclist and illustrator, David Sparshott has painstakingly captured iconic track and racing bikes for this impressive collection. Great if your flatʼs not quite large enough to allow you to have a real bike.

– Helen Ward, L O I S

 All images courtesy of  L O I S


Spring into Spring

The Spirit of Summer Fair started today at Kensington Olympia. It’s the 6th year of this event, and I am very excited to be finally going this year. I’d heard of the fair before, but it wasn’t until I said to an interior designer friend that I was going to this “great interiors fair” and she said “oh, Spirit of Summer?” that I thought, “wait a minute! If that’s the first thing that popped into her stylish mind, it must be worth a visit!” So here I am this year, traipsing to the Olympia this Saturday for a peek. I’m often to be found at all kinds of markets and fairs that happen to be on the weekend; the last one I visited was the Country Living Spring Fair, way back in March, so I am definitely ready for another interiors filled event!


SOS Logo

The best thing about these fairs is that you often get to meet the designers/makers, as they tend to pop in to run their stalls (I met Jane Means at Country Living – she’s lovely!). Also, it’s great to be able to support independent, small-medium local businesses – many famous names start off displaying at shows before getting their own shops, or being picked up by Liberty’s or John Lewis (that’s how Joules got going, look at them now). Quite a treat to be able to see the products of such creativity all over Britian, don’t you think?


A quick look on the Spirit of Summer Fair’s Facebook page already revealed lots of mouth-wateringly delightful stalls and items, e.g. Kelly Hoppen, Je Vous En Prie, and Ladeda Living.


From jewellery, to clothes, to home furnishings, and bath products, the fair promises to be full of fun and inspiration. Am looking forward to scouting out some up-and-coming purveyors of beautiful things for you lovely readers!

Photos courtesy of Spirit of Summer Fair, House & Garden