What could it possibly be hiding behind an anonymous black door, which is flanked by an alcohol dealer shop and a pizza joint, on a busy road of Shoreditch in London?
Standing in front of the intercom plate, the label at the top centre reads ‘Jasper Morrison Ltd.’; at the bottom there is 3 buttons tagged 1st Floor, Studio and Shop respectively. As my tutor urges us to be brave and ring the bell, I mustered my courage and pushed the button beside ‘Shop’. I leaned closer to the door. No sound of any bells. “Perhaps I should press the button harder this time,” I thought. The intercom suddenly crackled. “You want to come in the shop?” Greeted by a female voice. “Ye-yes!” “Okay, come in.” That modest door gave a loud ‘Tak!’, releasing the electromagnetic security lock to reveal a tiny gap for me to swing open further. *cue the dry ice*
I thought the journey from the entrance to the shop is rather a series of poetic experience while complementing to Jasper’s design philosophy of being modest and simple. It immediately reminds of modern tropical courtyards and zen garden, which is a total contrast from how cold and wet London can be during this time (October). I genuinely felt that I have stepped into another world.
Slow-walking across a two-rooms retail while making sure my eyes scanned every single objects displayed, I sensed cold shoulder from these daily products, contrary to how they are supposed to be something approachable. Under the spotlights, they received a higher status (as though they were in a gallery) and are asking to be handled with care. The perks of visual merchandising?
Relative to the Classic Victorian architecture facade, Labour and Wait stocks all the household goods you need. What you get here are generally beautiful, functional and better quality as opposed to the hypermarkets.
I just couldn’t help but to overhear a conversation between two ladies as I was browsing the store. They were talking about how functional and helpful a container can be (…wait for it…) for someone dearly and were thinking of how nice would it be to get it as a Christmas present. I wonder how many people actually buy these products for themselves, especially when they are twice or triple the price you can get from the hypermarkets. And also, I am curious that how many people uses such a normal, beautiful gift or are they kept as decoration on shelves? I am a person who keep all the gifts I received because they each has its meaning and memory. It feels nice to retrospect upon when you look into your ‘hoard’box one day in the future. Hence, a container for me is a bad gift, albeit it is very thoughtful.
Off Brick Lane, churning out high quality handcrafted and CNC milled laminated plywood furniture on demand is a dainty retail-workshop called Unto This Last. The business model of ‘made to order’ eliminates the need for storage space and things can be made faster cheaper as well as the ease of customisation with the aid of technology. Now, let the pictures do the talking.