Bath has a long tradition of charmingly quirky shops and an intriguing addition to that roster is Nam, a small shop specialising in table- and homewares. This one-room enterprise, measuring little more than 15sq m, opened in the spring of 2017 and is owned and run by Sharan Kaur. Born and brought up in London, one of five children in an Indian Sikh family, Kaur has named her Bath shop after the Sikh meditation she – along with her five-year-old daughter – practises in which “you seek to capture and destroy your ego and replace it with ego-less energy”.
The resulting space certainly has an aura. Chief among the homewares is a beautiful selection of fine china by revered Paris-based ceramicist Astier de Villate, from dinner plates (£98) and teacups (£95) to bowls (£78) and vases (from £195). All are handmade, sculpted from black terracotta quarried in the French capital and finished with a milky glaze that gives them an extraordinary translucent quality. “Astier comes from the earth,” explains Kaur. “There’s a purity to it. Each piece has its own majesty but there is a humbleness about it, too. They are designed to be used.”
Another luxury stalwart that resonates with Kaur is Cire Trudon, whose elegant candles (from £70) and room sprays (£170) come in evocative scents such as Spiritus Sancti (which has “the heady perfume of altar candles”); leathery, smoky Ernesto; and Abd El Kader, which smells of Moroccan mint tea. Continuing the French theme are characterful kitchen textiles by Série Limitée Louise, a brand created by Nice-born Louise Jourdan-Gassin, including linen tea towels (£29), screen-printed with black and white flea-market-found vintage photographs as well as witty Marcel Proust questionnaire napkins (£16) that ask diners to consider their “principal défaut…” or “rêve de bonheur…”
A similar cut-and-paste approach pervades in the découpage work of New York-based John Derian, whose blown-glass paperweights (from £45) are delightfully tactile. “Just holding them can help to relieve stress,” claims Kaur, who has also created a range of notebooks (from £39) using old hardback covers, hand-sewn by Bath-based bookbinders.
Meanwhile, the sculptural white porcelain kitchen- and tableware (pestle and mortar, £125) is by Wiltshire-based John Julian, and the delicate painted and embroidered greeting cards (from £5) are made in London by Elena Deshmukh. Particularly charming is the selection of little bells (£22): once worn by sheep, goats and cattle, they are sourced by local metal-detector enthusiasts and chime with Bath’s bohemian tradition.
“Bath is a very individual city,” says Kaur. “It has a lovely feeling of community. Maybe it’s in the healing water.” Whatever it is, Nam fits right in and is garnering a loyal fanbase. Kaur has no plans to expand, however, sensing that her shop’s diminutive scale and mystique are a key part of its appeal. “I want to just stay as myself, to connect with my customers with grace and gratitude. That’s what people like.”