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shopping travel

london shopping: twentytwentyone

June 4, 2014

Hello!  Going through my photos and notes brings me to my next shopping stop in London:  Upper Street, which is the high street of the Islington neighbourhood.  We walked it all the way from the Highbury and Islington tube stop to Angel station.  It starts out in a slightly rough but quiet area, increasing in poshness as you go south, and ending in a busy retail shopping area.  Along the way, I popped into a number of truly fantastic shops (including Folklore and the shop of Abigail Ahern) but twentytwentyone felt like most like home.  Of course, my house is nowhere near as stylishly curated as this shop, but the simple modern designs within felt like they could very easily come back home with me.

I’m always excited to find a new source for a reproduction of a midcentury Poul Cadovius shelving unit.  Sure, the original pieces are out there if you have the patience to hunt, but sometimes, I want something pristine, configured to my specific needs, and guaranteed to be functional.  I was floored to realize that this is actually a reissue of the original design!  Pictured here in the background:

The tea set is totally cute too.  I can picture it in an Eichler kitchen.  And you know how much I love tea.

Speaking of cute, I loved these little guys:

Also for that Eichler kitchen, these funky terracotta pots and baking dishes.  Perfect for making a traditional midcentury casserole for dinner.  Or perhaps something tastier.

For our bedroom (from which the shag rug has sadly been retired), I am quite smitten with this kilim rug.  I love the colour palette.  It’s more Scandinavian and subdued than traditional Turkish kilims, which tend toward browns, reds, and oranges.

So bright for London, right?  I loved this place.

I was quite happy to find that you can shop twentytwentyone online plus they ship outside the UK.  Lucky us!  So, the above cross-legged table and chairs, Cadovius shelving unit, colourful tea service, adorable turned wooden birds, clay cookware, and nordic kilim rug are all within reach.

And if you’re in London, you can find them here:

274/275 Upper Street
London N1 2UA

Happy shopping!

This is not a sponsored post.

All photos by Karolina Buchner.

shopping travel

london shopping: liberty london

May 28, 2014

If you ask Dave, I’m a bad tourist.  I’m hard to get out in the mornings for any sight seeing and I’d most happily spend my vacations sitting in cafes, people watching, and generally avoiding the tourist trail.  For this reason, I have never been to Harrod’s in London.  Nonetheless, I was tempted into the old fashioned London department store experience by way of Liberty London.  Housed in an enormous Tudor style building, it’s pretty hard to resist.  I caved.

Liberty is known for their floral fabrics.  You’ve probably seen their shirts in collaborations with places like J Crew.  Florals: definitely not my area.  So after getting an eyeful of scarves and shirts (OK, they are quite pretty), I headed for the furniture and lighting section, which featured a rich mix of modern and antique pieces, perfect for filling up that hypothetical London flat.

Despite my affinity for the sleek midcentury look, I adore the idea of a cozy library, filled with bohemian textiles, old books, quirky lighting, antiques, and art.  One of the houses near where we rented a flat had a library which we could spy in the evenings as we returned home.  It had tall shelves filled with books, walls hung with paintings, and it cast a cozy glow as we passed it in the street below.  These little moments from Liberty remind me of that house and fill me with London-envy:

Their rug section was probably the best part:  stacks upon stacks of Turkish kilim rugs.  I find I’m liking the more subdued palettes more for these, and they had a nice selection of them.  Even if I didn’t have an extra suitcase to stuff one in, it was great to browse and get inspired.
I’ll be posting more of my London finds next week!  Stay tuned.
All photos by Karolina Buchner

marimekko, palo alto

May 25, 2013

This past week was one of those impossibly long ones.  By the time Wednesday rolled around I couldn’t believe there was more of the week still ahead.  I slogged through.  I drove my car all the way to Palo Alto for service.  In some amazingly bad Bay Area traffic (which means, yay, improving economy!).  On Thursday I was ready to throw in the towel on this week, but after picking up the car, I decided to take advantage of this trek and took a detour on my way home.

I ended up at the Marimekko store in Stanford Shopping Center.  After slowing down to browse, I began to realize just how much I needed this.  I tend to shop online and overwhelm myself with research.  It was nice to slowly browse, feel the fabrics, and chat with the nice lady who waited on me, pulling fabrics down and unraveling them to show off their drool-inducing patterns and colours.

I haven’t always been a fan, as I used to associate Marimekko with the ‘Unikko’ red and white flower pattern which was quite popular some ten years ago and not quite my cup of tea.  But lately, as I’ve become more interested in patterns and fabrics, I have come to love their monochromatic and graphic styles.

There’s Unikko in the upper left!

 Marimekko’s spring fabrics have been out for a while now, and they are super fun.  I spotted this and feel in love:

Tilkkutäkki.  Very op art.  Definitely an option as an actual art piece too, if stretched on a canvas.  Perhaps in our dining room?
If you’re in the neighbourhood, the store is worth a look.  I’m glad I took the time to stop in.
Happy weekend!
(And no, this is not a sponsored post.  Just sharing my shopping finds with you.)

photos:  Karolina Buchner

shopping travel

paris: merci

May 8, 2013

Dear friends, I have to confess that part of this goal of posting about Paris every day this week was meant to help me overcome my jet lag by forcing myself to stay up in the evenings.  And boy, is it ever kicking my butt right now.  I am determined to power through it because today’s post is about the much-anticipated (for me) Merci!  Let’s do this.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Merci is acclaimed as a must-see shop for Design*Sponge readers, and I set a goal to make sure and visit it while in Paris.  I had also read about Merci and the recent launch of their online shop, greeted with much enthusiasm, on sfgirlbybay.  So, I had some high expectations and this place did not disappoint!

The store has a much different vibe than Fleux:  more organic, airy, and at the same time a bit industrial.  The goods at Merci include utilitarian but beautiful household products, like rubber gloves and pails, as well as cosmetics, clothing, kitchen ware, furniture, and lighting.  Upon entering the store, we were greeted by an installation of what seemed like about a hundred straw brooms suspended from the ceiling.

While browsing through the furniture displays, I spotted these delicate ceramic pieces:

Of course these beauties could never survive the trip home in my suitcase, so I had to pass on them.

Most of the vignettes throughout the store had really nice balance of the hand made, organic shapes, and more industrial modern furniture.  I was particularly taken with the one on the right here, which included a marble-topped, screw-base table and rough hewn wood stools:

Taking a closer look, the dishes on the table were made of paper-like fibres.  Lovely, subtle, and made in Japan.  But of course.  These would make for some kick-ass picnic dishes.

Merci has multiple cafes integrated in the store which was really handy. After Dave lost track of me for a while, we managed to find each other on the bottom level.  Since we were famished from our trek through the Marais and one of the cafes was right there, we decided to have a snack of fruit crumble and their house lemonade, which was flavoured with ginger and mint, and paired nicely with a view of the cafe’s courtyard.  A courtyard complete with birds chirping away.  It was almost too much charm.  Almost.


I decided to treat myself to a little something to remember this place by:  a pair of these sleek tumblers in black.  They’re ceramic with a silicone layer that makes me think of a finely pleated skirt.  So elegant.

Here’s where you can find Merci:

111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
73003 Paris

And they are also online at, which I just might have to browse more of this weekend.  Enjoy!

shopping travel

paris: fleux

May 7, 2013

When planning where to go on this trip, I did a bit of research on the Design*Sponge city guide for Paris, and put Merci on my must-see list of design shops.  It is located in the Marais, which a colleague also recommended as a great neighbourhood to walk around.  I loved the area — it was both bustling yet laid-back and the narrow, winding streets were a lot more hushed than the more popular sights in the city.  We decided to walk from the Hotel de Ville to Merci, and happened upon Fleux, the subject of this post, by chance.

fleux storefront

Fleux is a design shop, focusing mostly on home decor goods, furniture, and lighting.  It was a lot of fun to explore.  My favourite parts were the furnishings and lighting (surprise!)  They have the famous French-designed and hand made Jielde lamps in all sizes and colours, as well as the equally iconic Tolix chairs.

You guys, they have ALL THE TOLIX CHAIRS!  And Tolix cabinets, stools, and tables.  In fact, they had a Tolix-only upstairs floor, with all of the pieces right there in many paint colours, finishes and sizes.  This was the first time I had seen the perforated metal Tolix chairs, which look really nice, especially in the gun metal and black versions.  We saw the black perforated ones again at Merci, where we ventured later on.  Being on this floor surrounded by all that shiny, brightly coloured paint made me very, very happy.

Fleux is huge by the way.  It spans about four different adjacent small shops.  If you’re coming from the west/city center, you’ll likely happen upon the smaller, Tolix- and Jielde- focused shop, which is actually a separate space from their main store, just across the street.  The main store goes on and on.  Among the many nicely-styled displays in the furniture shop, I did spy this neat lamp-cum-bookshelf which I kind of regret not getting:

I would love to use it in a Scandinavian, minimal space, perhaps in a little reading nook involving a vintage rattan chair with a sheepskin draped over it.  I may just have to create such a nook in our house.  You know, to justify getting this cute shelf-light-thing someday?  Sounds like a plan to me.

This store was a very lucky find.  I recommend visiting if you’re nearby!

And so you don’t have to hope to encounter it by chance, here’s where to find Fleux:

39-52 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie
75004 Paris