We know the dilemma. You’re in London. Friends/family/neighbours say ‘ooh, can you bring me something back?’. And then you find yourself at the airport, forced to choose between a teddy bear in a beefeater’s uniform or a model red bus. Not cool. But we’re here to help. The area around Qbic is packed with great little boutiques and design shops so here are five ideas for things to take home that won’t go straight in the bin.
Wine-Scented Candles from Decorum
We don’t know about you but we usually use candles to disguise the smell of booze in our house, but if you’re clean-living enough that the aroma of fresh Merlot would be a welcome change then boy do we have the gift for you. Decorum‘s shopping in the shipping container facility-stroke-shopping mall, Boxpark, is an oasis of good taste home and gardenware, with a focus on recycled goods, from rusty garden taps turned coathooks to coffee tables made from old mirrors. But we particularly liked their candles made from recycled wine bottles though the rich aroma is making us feel a bit thirsty…
Where? BOXPARK Shoreditch, 2 Bethnal Green Rd, E1
Travel? Shoreditch High Street Tube
London Skyline Tea Set from Luna & Curious
The collective who run this Calvert Street design store were one of the first to move into the area and they’ve been bringing quirky Scandinavian and British items to Shoreditch hipsters for a decade. This is the place to come if you’re looking for stylish gifts for kids – the clothes are eco-friendly and well made, the books creative – but we’re going to recommend this beautiful tea set. Why? Because the only thing more British than a tea set is a tes set featuring the most iconic London landmarks.
Where? 24-26 Calvert Ave, E2 7JP
Travel? Shoreditch High Street overground
Solar-Powered Waving Queen from Maiden
We love Maiden. They stock a ton of great local designers and have some of the most beautiful and offbeat chinawear you’ll find in the city, artworks, colouring books, lamps, rugs, even DJ decks for cats. But if you want something that screams London, how about our own version of those waving cats that bring the Japanese luck and good fortune? Maiden’s version features our own dear monarch, is totally solar-powered and is available in three (slightly horrible) colours.
Where? 188 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6HU
Travel? Shoreditch High Street tube
Vintage Sportswear from Blitz
Warning – you can’t just ‘pop in’ to Blitz. You think you’ll just have a quick look but two hours later you’ll still be rifling through the rails, whispering to yourself “OMG is that an original Sergio Tacchini tracksuit?” and “I can wear lime green can’t I?” Blitz’s buyers have great eyes and the store is particularly strong on vintage denim and leather jackets but its the sportswear of old that gets us most excited here.
Where? 55 – 59 Hanbury Street, E1 5JP
Travel? Liverpool Street tube and overground
Nanoblock Big Ben from Magma
Magma is our go-to store for cool magazines, they stock hundreds and it’s a magnet for local creatives who’ll you’ll find browsing their lunchtimes away. But they also do a neat line in London gifts too and the Nanoblock line – think an architect-designed Lego set – are great for mini London landmarks that don’t look like tourist tat. You could go for a space station, tour bus or giant penguin but our fave is the Big Ben version – there’s something very satisfying about its tiny red bus on the pavement outside.
Where? 117-119 Clerkenwell Road, EC1R 5BY
Travel? Chancery Lane tube