London’s revered for its grandstand attractions, but it also contains sundry more eclectic outlets, many of which offer beautiful, decorative art-based souvenirs to take home with you…
The New Craftsmen
(34 North Row W1K 6DG)
If decorative arts are your thing, then a visit to this place has to be a priority during your time in the capital. Fittingly located in plush Mayfair, it’s a haven for stylish work by the best British artisans at work today; we’re talking basket weavers, carpenters, ceramicists, illustrators, jewellers and textilers. Actually, the shop’s worth the visit itself; a beautiful white-washed building, whose light, airy, inviting interior makes it the perfect site for so many creative delights.
(12 Bury Place WC1A 2JL)
Whatever the time of year, this place is absolutely perfect for picking up that unusual Christmas gift for a good friend or relation. The ideal outlet to mooch about in after a visit to the British Museum (just a few short steps away), it’s truly a Bloomsbury treasure trove of ink-related paraphernalia; inkpads, scrapbooks and, yes, rubber stamps. They’ll even produce bespoke-designed stamps for you.
William Morris Gallery
(Lloyd Park House, 531 Forest Road E17 4PP)
One for real arts and crafts enthusiasts here, for this charismatic mansion was home to none other than the legendary innovator and leader of the arts movement in the mid-19th Century. As such, it’s something of a minor museum dedicated to the designer-cum-craftsman extraordinaire and also offers a cracking collection of classy homeware products featuring his much admired, trademark patterns. Not far away at all – and thus an ideal place to visit – should you be staying at a hotel Finsbury Square.
Did you know the Greenwich district on the south bank of the Thames is a UNESCO World Heritage site? Given it’s brimming with beautiful things, it’s not surprising really; an example of which are all the wares in its indoor market. Here you’re faced with stall after stall of craft makers’ magical creations in among the more traditional meat and produce offerings (which, admittedly, ensure the atmos is topped off with gorgeous aromas). As to the arty items on sale, though, be sure to check out the eccentric embroidered images at Margot Lemons and the sublime paper delights at The Bird & Button; each of which are crafted from vintage, reclaimed material.
(62-66 Bermondsey Street SE1 3UD)
Finally, where better to pick up a London souvenir than somewhere that’ll give you a genuine story? The skinny on this place is that it’s an actual workshop rather than merely a retail outlet. In fact, it’s been a glassware studio for 40 years and nowadays features 20 resident artists, whose daily labours you can watch when you visit before casting your eye over their marvellous efforts and purchasing one to take away with you. Alternatively, you can come along for a day-long beginner glass-blowing course – and take away your own work for free!