The last thing I expected during a jaunt through Montmartre one recent weekend was to come face to face with a life-size Stormtrooper. I was peering through a shop window just a stone’s throw from Sacré Coeur, beyond which I could also see a cactus nearly as tall as I am. Curiosity piqued, I wandered in – to a space that is part offbeat design boutique, part art gallery. Small and intimate, the Woods Gallery opened two years ago, selling an eclectic mix of clothes, accessories, furniture and homewares.
The 170cm-high cactus, I learnt, is in fact a limited edition coat stand (€3,980, one of 100) crafted in lacquered polyurethane foam and first conceived in 1972 by Italian designers Guido Drocco and Franco Mello. This blend of the arty and slightly absurd is indicative of the rest of the shop’s offerings: a silver gnome (€110) by German conceptualist artist Ottmar Hörl, while vintage Eames pieces run the gamut from a DSR chair (€2,000) customised by French tattooist Fuzi to a more sedate 1950s Zenith rocking chair (from €800).
I fell for the dreamy, wavy Ettore Sottsass Ultrafragola floor mirror (€7,200) framed by a millennial-pink neon light, but took home an enamel teapot (€78) and matching mugs (€18) by the unusually named Seletti Wears Toiletpaper – an irreverent collaboration between Italian design company Seletti and Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s image-only magazine, Toiletpaper. Illustrated with whimsical images of leaping horses, surrealist apples and stoic toads resting in hamburger buns, the tableware proved too intriguing to walk away from. I also picked up a copy of interiors magazine Apartamento (€15) from the shop’s wide collection of design publications, and stepped out feeling like Alice leaving Wonderland.