June 01 2011
Lucia van der Post
Since my tastes nearly always run to the quirky and the one-off, I’m excited to see a new venture by John Lewis, that usually reassuring and predictable high street store. It has two furniture buyers who have decided that, in among the sofas, towels and carpets at its Oxford Street store in London, they will insert what they call the Curiosity Shop, a collection of unusual and unique pieces. Go there for the mad (but, I hasten to say, charming) branch coat stand (£425), the Little Moo chair in cowhide (pictured, £999), or a turquoise “bump” chair (£1,400).
What I love most, though, is the section aimed at “the gentleman’s den”. Here are some wonderfully comforting and retro designs. All have a slightly worn look, and most would fit beautifully into any den or study. I love in particular the riveted mirror (£325), the 24-metal-drawer chest (£750) and the retro lived-in leather and metal chairs (Spitfire, £1,350, Mitch, £899 and Gramophone, £999). I love their unashamedly masculine air and their mild oddness. There’s quite a bit of what the buyers call “eccentric glamour” about, too – sofas and chairs upholstered in vintage velvet (£1,200 for the chair, £1,950 for the sofa).
For the moment it’s only in London at the Oxford Street branch and at Peter Jones, but it is likely to be rolled out into other stores.