Loitering With Intent: Arty Places To Hangout In Now

The rise in “AT-HOME” commercial spaces has Penny McCormick OUTSTAYING HER WELCOME

AT HOME: Kim Hersov of Talitha designed her store to feel like home.

Walking into Talitha in London, I feel the same adrenalin hit I experience when getting my hands on new stationery. It’s a retail space which has provoked much Instagram love since its opening earlier in the summer. If “just looking” has been my default response when entering some luxury shopping spaces, the boutique crystalises the shift in bricks-and-mortar commerce. When the salesperson asks if she can help me, I want to reply, “Can I move in?”

The “at home” feeling was carefully curated by Talitha designer Kim Hersov and her business partner Shon Randhawa when they worked together with architect Hubert Zandberg. They were already friends: “We share the same aesthetic so it was a no-brainer to work together on the project.” The result is a boudoir feel with travel and a love of vintage informing the inspiration for clothes and homeware offerings. I find myself mentally filing away the images for another decor diversion further down the line.
Talitha seems to have tapped into a growing trend. Fashion stylist and designer Tabitha Simmons cites The Line on Greene Street as one of her favourite places in New York, “it’s like walking into someone’s home where everything is for sale.” You may have noticed, on shopping forays, the rise in niche retailers, smaller shops with a more feminine design vibe, or enticing pop-up stores-within-stores.

Inviting corners in Talitha.

Denis Looby of Sheehan & Barry architects is a master of this design aesthetic, creating the elegant bridal showroom at Louise Kennedy’s flagship boutique and the impressive Knightsbridge suite at The Kensington Hotel, London, which mixes antiques and vintage Murano chandeliers. Luxurious yet contemporary, the shift has filtered down the ranks from global luxury brands who are moving away from the one-concept-fits-all approach to adopting locally-styled venues.

Irish designer Emma O’Neill of Studio Sofield, New York, recalls, “I have fond memories of shopping at Richard Alan with my mother in the 1970s; wall-to-wall plush carpeting, warm and courteous greeting, outfits already put aside by her sales lady. Shopping was a pleasure, not just another “message” to cross off your list.” These memories perhaps have shaped her designs. “Working with Derek Lam on his 10 Crosby shop in SoHo, we created a serene space that is a refuge from the busy streets of Manhattan. It is modern, with the use of simple materials allowing the clothes and shoes to be the stars.” Then there’s Cassandra Grey’s Violet Grey boutique on Melrose Place, Los Angeles, an inspiring concept – “the discreet salon is entered through a garden and is miles away from the cold clinical experience of the typical beauty counter.”

Violet Grey.

I had the same feeling at The Ned – the five-star London hotel and club named after its architect Sir Edwin “Ned” Lutyens – where the spa is all walnut mahogany tables, antique rugs and tapestries; a far cry from the crepuscular relaxation spaces with which we are familiar. There is already much excitement about the Charlotte Tilbury-designed powder rooms to be unveiled at chic member’s club ANNABEL’S this month.

Less is no longer more – I used to worship in the temple that was Armani’s flagship store in Milan or the grey enormity of Calvin Klein’s Madison Avenue, but suddenly they seem to jar. Who doesn’t like to find that arty little café on their travels? I cite Button & Spoon, discovered after a visit to Ceadogán rugs in Wexford, or Nelly’s in the Arts and Business campus at Drumcondra. I’ve taken photos of wallpaper (at Avoca, Belfast) and stolen styling ideas from hotels (The Merrion’s framed floral stamps), restaurants (Beauty & Essex in New York) and London florist, Scarlet and Violet, inspired me to collect vintage porcelain swans. I also love the book-sharing initiative by Toast. Not only have they cornered a niche in relaxed comfortable clothing, now they provide a shelf filled with books from staff and customers for sharing in select stores. Each book contains a handwritten note explaining how the book has enriched the sharer. Whether these are all marketing ploys, for bookworms, nesters and shopaholics like myself, I say carry on.

5 Arty Places to Hang Out:

Birdwoods at Burtown

Birdwoods at Burtown exhibition features 50 pieces of Zimbabwean Shona stone sculptures displayed throughout the gardens of the 300-year-old Kildare estate. The present owners are photographer James Fennell and his wife, Joanna, who is the culinary director and interior designer at the inspiring on-site restaurant, café and interiors store, the Green Barn. www.burtownhouse.ie.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

The ultimate art space this season will be the Louvre Abu Dhabi which opens today, November 11, and is designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel. It comprises a silvery dome featuring over 8,000 metal stars that houses an impressive collection of artworks.

PAINTCLUB at Tribeton

Tribeton, Galway’s urban Art Deco bar and restaurant has partnered with a number of local craft schools to form the Craft Collective with the PAINTCLUB workshops one of its main initiatives. Lasting two hours, participants get to transform a blank canvas into a finished masterpiece while enjoying some cocktails; November 18, www.tribeton.ie.

The Glucksman

The Glucksman in Cork blends modern architecture with inspiring exhibitions. The Glucksman’s Craft + Design Fair takes place this weekend, and it is one of the most prestigious in the country. We’ll be having a look for Christmas present ideas, taking place this weekend, November 10-12; www.glucksman.org.

Ham Yard Hotel

Popping over to London? Take note. Starting in the Drawing Room at Ham Yard Hotel, Firmdale Hotels’ monthly Art Walks (£95stg) not only showcase the hotel’s impressive collection amassed by owner-designer Kit Kemp, but also give participants tips on how to collect and hang art. Curator Olivia Paterson takes guests to some of Mayfair’s most exclusive galleries, including Marion Goodman, Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth. The art walk ends with lunch or afternoon tea at Ham Yard where Tony Cragg’s sculpture Group and Martha Freud’s 32 glowing porcelain pots feature. November 11; www.firmdalehotels.com.

Penny McCormick

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