Tuesday, March 15, 2005

FT.com / Arts & Weekend - Fantasy furniture shopping

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Tyler Brûlé writes a column on shopping and retail for the Arts & Weekend section of The Financial Times. I've taken an excerpt of his column on furniture shopping to provide hypertext links to the resources he cited.

FT.com / Arts & Weekend - Fantasy furniture shopping

... Europe’s department stores could, and should, be some of the best emporiums for housewares in the world, but there’s a vast body of work to be done. In London, neither Selfridges nor Harrods offers much in the way of inspiration. At Liberty, an overhaul of their homewares offer feels half-hearted at best and rather cold. In Paris, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette look more like malls than department stores. The only city that stands out is Copenhagen and its flagship Illums Bolighus store. While the offer is firmly Danish, the store has resisted moving to relying on shop-in-shop concepts and still considers an army of knowledgable staff an essential part of shifting large items like €5,000 sofas.

So, if so many are getting it wrong, who’s getting it right? Sadly, precious few. For those looking for a sofa from German brand Cor, a bed from Swedish brand Duxiana, side chairs from PJ Furniture and a selection of vintage modernist pieces from Sergio Rodrigues, there’s a dearth of one-stop shops that have a mix of old, new, experimental and established. This is where the Hercules comes in. With a cargo bay that can accommodate a generously sized delivery van and plenty of space to outfit a 150sq m flat, here are the neighbourhoods, stores and places to call on.

1. Copenhagen

Illums Bolighus for everything from beds to private label rugs, from Hans Wegner classics to international brands. It’s the one store that can deal with the entire house – save the bathroom and kitchen fixtures. ...

2. Zurich

Wohnbedarf trades in a mix of Swiss modernist classics, and its range covers lighting, dining, offices, sofas and beds. The store does an excellent job with storage as well as accessories. The service is impeccable and the prices predictably high. ...

3. Germany

The German Stilwerk concept, which pulls myriad design brands together under one roof, got off to a good start but has begun to look a little dated recently. This doesn’t mean that the idea isn’t a sound one. With branches in Berlin, Hamburg and Dusseldorf, the Stilwerk concept puts premium brands, ranging from bathroom furnishings to storage companies, in a single space and makes it easy as possible for the consumer to do a one-stop shop. To refresh the concept, Stilwerk could invite a range of lesser- known brands and vintage dealers into the mix to round out its offer.

4. Osaka

Truck Works sells “57 sorts of furniture” and packages its brand in one of the most beautiful catalogues in the world. The designs of its tables, chairs and beds feel a bit lived-in and are neutral enough to work in almost any environment. There’s a hint of Robin Day in some pieces, a bit of Florence Knoll in others.

5. Tokyo

Located at the start of the furniture strip in Meguro, Karf sells a handsome collection of Japanese and Scandinavian mid-century classics, lighting from emerging local designers and a well-priced, elegantly designed “Made in Japan” collection of wooden pieces that cover every room in the house.

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