Tuesday, 22 February 2011

the truest ever Farm Shop...?

In January I spoke about my predicted trends for 2011, and I mentioned that urban farming was still looming on the horizon, but was probably not quite here just yet.

Well, I hope to be proven wrong this year by eco design trio Something and Sons when they fully launch their FARM:shop in Dalston, London.

The concept is simple - produce as much food as you can, by farming within the confines of the shop. But as you can imagine, this is far from simple and requires a great deal of advanced technological expertise to support the basic farming techniques.

But I love the concept - Aquaponic micro fish farming (where the waste water feeds into the tomatoes), a polytunnel and indoor allotment. A rooftop chicken coop ensures that foxes are kept at bay, and the happy (and hopefully partially sheltered) chickens will provide eggs for the shop below.

We have all seen a myriad of urban farming renderings, with the skylines of our cities paved over with crops, or huge multi-layered skyscrapers filled with levels of agriculture, but not many have got very close to (pardon the pun) actual fruition, so it will be very interesting to see how the FARM:shop concept actually works in real time, and how it could be replicated to our own high streets.

Would it just be too small, or would it just cater for a niche market (like fresh tilapia and pots of specialist herbs) or, as was pointed out quite aptly on the latest edition of The People's Supermarket, have we just become conditioned to thinking that rafter packed supermarkets and lines and lines of choice (and therefore waste) are what we want to consume?

I tend to agree with the latter - I would rather wander into a shop and see what is there, in season and looking good rather than going with a mind of preconceived recipes and a list to match.

Oh, and I love the slogan for Something and Son - Between us we know enough about everything to have a go at (almost) anything.

I quite agree, and we try and work the same way.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Daring decadence…

For those of you who are not aware, I also write a few blog posts for the excellent Brighton Collective Blog on retail interior design in Brighton, and here is a copy of my Valentine's Day post - on the most decadent and Brightonish chocolate shop you could ever imagine...

Luxury and decadence can come in many forms, from the pristine white of lead crystal and linen sheets to the opulence and colour saturation of jewels and tropical flowers. Of course, each person’s ideal of decadence will vary from the next, but I think that most will agree that the craft and deliciousness of the artisan chocolate falls lushly into this category. And at this particularly romantic time of the year, what could be better than combining the two – true decadence of the eyes and the taste buds.

Choccywoccydoodah in Duke Street, Brighton solidifies my own ideas of decadence in a way which borders on the fantastical, with constantly changing and awe inspiring front windows reminiscent of my childhood visits to the beautifully crafted Father Christmas grotto in Hanningtons.

The skills of the chocolatiers are proudly displayed to the world with giant sculptures, hand painted birds and flowers and pretty much life size skulls, shaded with perfection. The front window is wonderfully framed by the deepest of blacks, which ensures that the glorious colours glow from within the display, and is offset by traditional sign written script in a lush blood red.

This red continues into the womb like interior walls of the store, where clinical stacks of chocolate are banished in favour of mounds balanced on vintage cabinets, lit by cut glass chandeliers and reflected in opulent gilt mirrors. It feels like walking into a scene from a Tim Burton film – you are enclosed by the blood red and each glance reveals yet more wonders from the last. It is all beautiful, with a touch of eccentric madness, akin to the wondrous sculptures in the window which entice you in like the witch in the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel .

Flocks of chocolate birds rest on vintage china and reclaimed timber boxes contain more edible creations, shining like golden doubloons in a pirate treasure chest. Truffles glisten from within a stunning glass fronted cabinet, which doubles up as the serving desk and bunches of heart shaped chocolate lollies dangle from hooks like prizes in a funfair.

And a funfair is exactly what the interior is – a treat laced with a little edginess – the sauciness and naughtyness of a beautiful tattoo laden woman, with bright red lipstick, black flicked eyeliner and fishnet stockings. Hearts and flowers, skulls and birds.

So if the chocolate doesn’t get you in the Valentines mood, the interior most definitely will.

Choccywoccydoodah - http://www.choccywoccydoodah.com

24 Duke Street, Brighton

Open 10-6 Mon-Sat and 11-5 Sunday