Darkroom is a directional new store now open on the characterful Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury. The store comprises a curated mix of interior and fashion accessories alongside bi-monthly art and sculpture exhibitions.
52 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3LL (020 7831 7244)
The store is a play on materials, scale, and form. Oversize plaited quilted scarves resemble eiderdowns whilst jewellery made from chunky rope evoke curtain tiebacks. Alongside this, leather accessories take strong influences from saddlery, and oversize trims such as heavy fringing and chains feature strongly.
The interior accessories explore the diverse materials, textures, and production techniques of clothing or jewellery. The boundaries between art and design are questioned by functional pieces that also hold sculptural qualities – a necklace may be worn traditionally or hung on the wall as an objet d’art.
As these images suggest, the store’s visual presentation comprises graphic forms, rich textures, and bold architectural concepts. Products are grouped to create tension and dialogue rather than by genre – a beautiful bag sits alongside a vase or lampshade that shares a similar aesthetic or material.
Darkroom has been set up by Rhonda Drakeford and Lulu Roper-Caldbeck, who come from graphic and fashion backgrounds respectively.
Images courtesy of Darkroom.
It’s fantastic that Lamb’s Conduit Street has a new independent retail offering to join the street’s other visionary outlets. The cosy location is quintessential ‘Old London’ and lends itself perfectly as a contrasting backdrop for the Darkroom concept.
It is that word – concept – that has been rather jarringly used to describe this store. The connotations are all wrong. In my experience, a ‘concept store’ is an unfortunate term inflicted upon retailers that are normally style over substance and don’t quite fit into a definable retail genre. Such outlets are all very well but can quite often be a mish-mash of expensive unrelated stuff trying ever-so-hard to be frightfully cool. Cynics would say, such places are the right way for dearest to wipe out daddy’s trust fund.
With that said, I would like to rid Darkroom of such a title. This place has a clear point of view and a vision. It has been put together with hard graft, determination, and integrity by the owners. It is this sort of store that should be supported and that the LONDON DESIGN GUIDE chooses to champion. They put the interest back into shopping.
At the opening, I came across an edited selection of well-sourced things that I would have bought (had it not been so busy!). There are products that appeal to varying demographics and that don’t break the bank. I shall certainly return to buy some.