When you own or run a shop its great to open the door in the morning, sweep your path and put out your sandwich board ready to see the smiley faces of folk as they visit your outlet with intrigue. Thats all very well in the high street but what happens when the laptop is your shopping trip? The familiarity of an e-commerce website as familiar as the kids seat on a shopping trolley is the pride of the digital natives. Whilst grandma may know the exact aisle in Tesco where the kitchen foil is kept, a child born of the 80s knows how to shop virtually and isn’t scared to do so. This way of shopping is often very anonymous but every now and again a beacon of hope appears which brings a fresh design to us, a novel way of looking at something and the Our Workshop shop is the case in hand.
The site itself is easy to navigate and honestly pretty simple but its triumph is its absolute attention to detail. The clever geometric and colourful graphics are the websites equivalent to an arresting shop window, many may take these for granted but it breathes a warmth and familiarity often lost in online retail. The messages to customers on stripy backgrounds reminiscent of swing tags, posters and hanging signs but presented in a flat modern and ultimately more appealing guise.
The product range is fun, modernist, vintage, retro, hints of Britishness and an appeal to the quirkier side of life. Organised into categories of need rather than description Our Workshop certainly sells a lifestyle and promotes a way of living through a screen. I love the apple storage containers and the sail boat salt and pepper pots are an absolute hoot!
The Our Woskshop Shop does not present us with ground breaking products, it just presents us with a new way of looking at them
I spoke with Pui & Gemma about their shop:1) Why and when did you start your ‘shop’, how long has it been running?Gemma and I started our shop during the summer of 2010. It started from us setting up our own design studio the year before,and the shop was a natural progression of what we enjoyed. That is graphic design, and also product design.We thought these went hand in hand well, and the shop fed our passion for shopping too.2) Have you changed what you sell over the past year?We are constantly changing our product selections, but a lot of the time it’s an unconscious decision. It kind of has developed naturally, we usually go with what we would like ourselves. We naturally go for simple, functional yet quirky designs.Be it a new product from a new designer or a vintage piece we found from an antique market.
3) In terms of retail and dealing directly with the public what has been your biggest surprise?We don’t really deal with the public much face to face, as it’s an online shop. However we have been taking part in several art fairs and markets this year, and it’s always nice to meet customers who have followed our blog along the way, and we finally get to meet them. Also, customers are always sending us lovely comments about Our Shop. The biggest surprise I’d say is when a customer actually turns up at our studio. And would like to buy and browse through our products, even though we’re on online shop.The lengths people go to, to track you down is a nice surprise. A guy came all the way from U.S, though not especially for us, but he was on a work trip in London, and he said that he found us on a blog, he found our studio, and asked if he could purchase some of our notebooks before he went home!
4) Do you have a style ethos in your shop or a particular style that you are trying to portray?We don’t really have a style ethos. But both Gemma and I love scandanavian design, clean and minimal graphics and also we like modern as well as vintage inspired designs. As designers we are always finding new inspirations from graphic design, illustration, fashion and interior design. Our shop style is what we both like naturally too.
5) Where do you get your inspiration for the styling of your shop?All the photography is shot by us, in our own homes using our own props etc. I guess that our inspiration is to set products where we would find most natural. So where we would place the products ourselves at home. We like the setting to be homely and laid back, as if you’re peeking into a home.6) Is there a business in the same sector as yours that you aspire to be like? for example, is there another shop that inspires the way you present your shop?Hmmm, not really. Though we both look at a lot of blogs, online shop, boutiques etc, there is a lot of lovely shops out there!We both like Liberty of London. It’s like a national treasure, the building is so beautiful and the shopping experience is extra special in there too. We like the eclectic mixes of products they have, both traditional and modern. It feels like you’re visiting a musuem/gallery when you’re in there.