July 20 2010
Lucky, lucky Wales. Interiors stylist Hilary Lowe, whose blue-chip pedigree includes forecasting design trends for The Sunday Times as well as styling shoots for corporate clients such as M&S and Sainsbury’s, has now settled in a farmhouse in Pembrokeshire. Itching to find a suitable outlet for her creative know-how, she has spent a great deal of time and energy tracking down the cream of Welsh crafts – as far removed from stovepipe-hatted dolls and fluffy red dragons as it’s possible to be. Having built up a network of talented craftspeople across the province, she has opened a shop, Damson & Slate, in the boutique retail destination of Narberth.
Step through the Damson & Slate doors and you find a glorious celebration of all that is beautiful and Welsh, from hand-woven alpaca throws and vintage Welsh blankets to ceramic mini cawl spoons and candle stands of antler and slate. The raw material for the products is also sourced from Wales, be it locally farmed lavender or wool, or baskets of Welsh willow. Hilary’s aim is to support and encourage a new generation of designer-makers, many of whom are utilising traditional skills to make these chic and covetable items.
There are cushions of wool fabric woven on traditional looms and finished with vintage buttons (from £48); charming studio pottery from Llandeilo (from £13); hand-made Laughing Bird beauty products (from £3.50); Welsh lavender bags (from £10); and sweaters, socks and berets in earthy shades of hand-dyed wool. I bought a jaunty, hand-knitted beret in local yarn for £28, a hand-dyed and woven angora wrap in smart slate grey for £145, and a garden trug made of Welsh willow and wild dog rose for £78. All fabulous.
The tiny shop is testament to Hilary’s styling skills, fitted out with old school cupboards and vintage maps against a palette of slate, sage, peat and heather. If you find yourself in the Narberth area, it is well worth a diversion. And for those with little opportunity of visiting the province, the Damson & Slate online shop brings you a slice of Welsh heritage wherever you live.