Monday, 8 February 2010

Fun in the Darkroom

A look inside the Darkroom.

The Darkroom opened its doors on the characterful Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury just before Christmas and I have been meaning to visit it ever since. Lambs Conduit Street (as profiled by Monocle last year) shows what can be achieved in retail areas as it champions a real community spirit and the Darkroom is a welcome addition to the already blossoming stretch of street heaven. Since its launch I have heard a chorus of good things about the store and as I had some free time this weekend I made the trip down on the Number 17 bus to have a wander around myself.

Part of the Orgy of Lovehearts. Artwork featuring the creations of knitwear maestro Lynn Cockburn.

The concept store comprises a curated mix of interior and fashion accessories alongside bi-monthly art and sculpture exhibitions. During my visit I wandered about the Love exhibition (as feature over on Fred Butler's blog) and I certainly fell for the accessories on offer. Based on the presumption that someone who's interested in a beautiful piece of knitwear or tyvek bag might well be into attractive objects for the home (I know I am), graphic designer Rhonda Drakeford and textile designer Lulu Roper Cardbeck dreamed up the Darkroom. The result is a marriage between fashion and interiors.

Darkroom explores several concepts but at the forefront is the crossover between fashion and interiors and with it the juxtaposition of materials, scale and form. Oversize plaited quilted scarves resemble eiderdowns while jewellery made from chunky rope evoke Sculptural furnishings. Alongside this, leather accessories take strong influences from saddlery, and oversize trims such as heavy fringing and chains feature strongly. Although some of the pieces naturally lend themselves to either men or women, many items can (and indeed should) be appreciated by both sexes.

Von Sono's knitted scarf and Saskia Diez's tyvek holdalls.

Two of my favourite finds in store were flirtatiously situated side by side, I just didn't know where to look when I encountered Von Sono's chunky knitted scarves and Saskia Diez's tyvek bags. German fashion designer Sono is based in London and creates beautiful pieces that question scale, form and gender. Her accessories collection mixes high end craftsmanship with different textures and fabrics to form key pieces in muted tones ranging from chunky knitted scarves and oversize bags to smaller classic leather accessories. Loyal readers might recall that I featured the Papier bag collection back in April last year but this is the first time I've been able to inspect them up close. The range is made out of synthetic paper and is labelled with sterling silver. Upon close inspection they are light, waterproof, recyclable, hard wearing (the largest model can hold 20kg which is more than I can) and they extremely tear proof... oh I did find it difficult to tear myself away from them (teehee... sorry! Can't resist a good pun)

Other highlights included these handprinted silk pocket squares from Study O Portable (above) and a mouth watering selection of leather totes from Andrea Inconstin (immediately below). Everywhere I turned I encountered temptation and discovered new labels. For example, Anglo Leathercraft is a British brand and has found huge following in Japan, yet are little known in the UK. Their leather belts and bags are all made in England using the finest and most intricate leatherworking techniques. I stood firm and kept my bankcard in my wallet but something tells me I will be making a return trip to the store sometime soon...

Andrea Inconstin Bags

As well are the array of wares stoking the shelves, Darkroom is worth visiting if only to soak up the immaculate styling of the store. The store’s visual presentation comprises graphic forms, rich textures, and bold architectural concepts. Products are grouped to create tension and dialogue rather than by genre – a beautiful bag sits alongside a vase or lampshade that shares a similar aesthetic or material. In short, it is a fantastic addition to Lamb’s Conduit Street's already diverse independent retail offering.

A recent addition to Darkroom's stock, umbrellas from David David.


Matthew Spade said...

well i will have to go visit this store, it looks immaculate. im really into the design of stores and ive actually been trying to find work experience in companies that design store environments ect.

the leather bags look like a must have, go on treat yourself

percy said...

Those pocket square/neck ties look amazing nice modern geometric twist on a old classic.


Suzanne said...

what a cool looking store -- I love how they decorated it

John Bernal said...

The very basic colors scattered about the store make it far from boring.

modernaged said...

This looks heavenly. How many times have I walked from University College to Gray's Inn Road and somehow never found this street?? I guess that's LDN for you.

I spend 6 hours a week in a tiny little room at 30 Russell Square. I'm going to this shop on a lunch break, for sure! Thanks for the heads up.

Make Do Style said...

Must take a stroll those bags are calling me in and Mr MDS always needs a new shop to peruse.

Harry said...

Nice piece. Just in way of correction, Darkroom is owned and run by Rhonda Drakeford and Lulu Roper-Caldbeck.

Style Salvage Steve said...

Mat: The store is constantly changing and new stock is added every week. Let us know how you get on.
Percy: Yes, I was severely tempted by them. They would breathe fresh life in any tired jacket.
Suzanne: It really is, makes such a nice addition to the street because it looks so different.
John Malvin: Agreed!
Modernaged: You definitely need to make a slight detour when you next make that journey. Let us know how you get on.
Make Do Style: Yes you simply must because it really is great to peruse, there is something to look at wherever you turn.
Harry: Thanks...amended..sorry Rhonda!

fredbutlerstyle said...

Wow, thanks for linking my blog!
Due to having a power cut for 24hrs Ive only just got round to posting another belated DARKROOM ch ch ch check out the checkerboard realted theme

: )


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