My recent tour of the West Country was decidedly gastronomic in nature. We took in farm-to-table hideaway Coombeshead Farm, the joint effort of chefs April Bloomfield and Tom Adams, and the recently opened Lympstone Manor, the latest venture from Michael Caines. Thoroughly sated on delicious local produce, we took a detour to the town of Totnes, home of druids and crystals – or so I thought. What I found instead was a glut of stylish coffee shops, a neon-clad vinyl store populated by hipsters and a converted stone barn filled to the rafters with delightful homewares.
Signposted by a fashionably rusting modernist sign, Nkuku is a rustic-chic repository of artisan creations from India, Vietnam and Africa – all handpicked by husband-and-wife team Alex and Alistair Cooke. We browse pyramid terrariums (from £40), created by a latch maker in Uttar Pradesh, and hand-loomed Rajasthani block-print jute rugs (£140; 120cm x 180cm). Some beautifully textured two-tone linen cushion covers (from £30) catch my eye; I decide to buy one in red and taupe. Equally appealing are the ceramics; I pick up two plates (£20) with elegantly curved edges that will make fine centrepieces for a summer table, but resist the urge to buy a matching jug (from £20) as well. There are also several covetable and highly giftable smaller items: pretty Mawia bead bracelets (£40) made in West Bengal, and Kadira leather journals (from £20) crafted in Delhi.
The name Nkuku comes from that of a Zambian hut. The business started as an online venture more than 10 years ago and expanded into a bricks-and-mortar destination in October 2015. Shop exclusives include reclaimed wooden cupboards (from £395), antique giant fans (from £695) and fire pits (from £150) for the garden. My boyfriend and I linger over some medicine cabinets (from £95) we have no room for, before heading to the café beyond for lightly cooked halloumi and homemade cake.