Welcome to the future of shopping: The brains behind destination homeware stores

How to get people off the internet and back into the shops? Provide a unique retail experience in an inspiring environment. We meet the brains behind three destination homeware stores.

James McDonald

The feel-good gallery

Founded by interior designer Tobias Vernon and curator Rowena Morgan-Cox in 2018, West London’s Eight Holland Street is an exquisite yet inviting gallery-meets-store, showcasing European art and design alongside unique objects and textiles.

Louise Long

What’s the idea behind Eight Holland Street?
We wanted to challenge gallery norms and mix periods, furniture and objects in a more relaxed fashion. By thoughtfully placing art, design and collectables in a livable space and layering the shop as you would a home, customers get to experience how different things can work together.

Tell us about the aesthetic…
The shop is full of colourful offbeat pieces that are elegant and understated. Genres are mixed, but with no hierarchy. Our aim is to create unique spaces that embrace the architecture with no predetermined look.

And the vibe?
We don’t take ourselves too seriously and have tried to create a space that feels uplifting, personal, fun and bright. We treat it as if it is a home, so it always feels sociable.

Do you travel extensively to source stock?
We personally select pieces for our shop, and Milan, Turin and Morocco are favourite hunting grounds. A lot of our ceramics and art are from the UK and we try to support local talent – community spirit is important to us.

How can shops compete against online shopping?
While our website has definitely extended our London-based reach, we are seeing a resurgence in customers wanting to visit a physical place, where they can see and touch the pieces.

What’s the secret of a high-street success?
If you create an experience, a welcoming community environment that feels personal, customers will come from near and far.

Glasses, £95 each, 8hollandstreet.com

Wall hanging, £880, 8hollandstreet.com

Ceramic jugs, £60 each, Dora Good, 8hollandstreet.com

Lamp base, £950, Viola Lanari, 8hollandstreet.com

8 Holland Street, London W8; 8hollandstreet.com

Retail reimagined

Already renowned for their international design studio, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch launched their flagship store Roman And Williams Guild in New York’s SoHo in 2017. This unique, multifunctional concept emporium encompasses furniture and home decor, a restaurant, library, florist and gallery.

Sebastian Kim

What’s the concept behind Roman And Williams Guild?
We wanted to create a place where we could showcase our collection and bring the best of everything we make and everything we love – from objects to furniture, food to flowers – together under one roof for everyone to share.

And the vibe?
It’s a space that is full of joy, beauty, comfort and quality, with an inherent sense of community.

What influences your choice of products?
Collections are a mix of our own designs, items by artisans from around the world and
vintage objects and furniture.

Adrian Gaut

Do you travel extensively to source stock?

Your staff are well versed in the makers’ stories – is that key to the customer experience?
Absolutely! We are devoted to narrative and our staff play a key role in relaying that narrative to our customers.

Are multifunctional stores such as yours important for the future of shops?
The mix is crucial to creating a cultural experience. Retail today needs to be a reflection of how you live.

Adrian Gaut

How can shops compete against online shopping?
The two will always have to coexist. Humanbeings want a connection that is physical as well as digital.

How would you entice shoppers back to the high street?
Invest in it, activate it, revive it with retailers who really care about what they sell or make. Embrace trade globally and allow the web to be an extension of our built world – not the other way around.

Table lamp, around £2,350, rwguild.com

Cup, around £70, rwguild.com

Tea towel, around £37, rwguild.com

Teapot, around £225, rwguild.com


The serene space

Moth, an interiors and lifestyle concept store in West Didsbury, Manchester, was opened by stylist Hazel Marchant in 2006 and specialises in simple, pared-back objects for everyday living.

What inspired you to open Moth?
I wanted to create a relaxed environment for customers to take time to experience; a place as much about the space as the products. Attention to detail is hugely important, from the curation of goods to the handwritten price tags; the choice of music and type of lighting.

Tell us about the aesthetic…
Think understated luxury in muted, textured tones of oat, black, biscuit, grey and white. Collections include textiles, jewellery, glass, ceramics, scents and leather. Like moths, we are all about subtle, understated beauty.

What attracted you to West Didsbury?
After working in London, I wanted to return to my Manchester roots. West Didsbury, which is filled with independent businesses, is just six miles from the city centre and airport. As someone who also likes to travel and dip into city life, it felt like the perfect store location.

Do shops stand a chance in these online times?
There is a place for both, but our customers feel the need to connect – to be part of something. They want to have a conversation and be able to see and touch the products.

What’s the secret of a high-street success?
I think the resurgence of all independent retail, including cafés and restaurants, is helping to create places where people want to be – an experience. Our customers shop in neighbouring stores and meet nearby for brunch or coffee – we are all important to each other’s success.

Hand soap, £16, mothstyle.com

Earrings, £23, mothstyle.com
Ceramic cup, £7.50, mothstyle.com

Throw, £24, mothstyle.com