I was working on the Channel Islands last week shooting a number of fine and recently completed retail spaces. The last one was in St Helier, in a prime location on the high street surrounded by quality establishments but pretty much the same ones you might see anywhere in the UK or Europe. All the big brands were there but directly opposite the store I was photographing was a rather different space. One that had seen better days certainly but one that also had a personality and charm of it’s own and neatly contrasted with the homogenised shops everywhere else.
Whilst waiting for the light to fall I went and spoke to the proprietor who I found seated in a little glass booth in the middle of the shop surrounded by decades of remaindered stock and predominately empty shelves.
We had a short ten minute conversation but amazingly were able to cover international banking, island life, the internet, the upholstery trade, shopping habits as well as a run down of the history of both his shop and his family history. It was around closing time so I asked if I could take a few pictures to which the proprietor agreed, but I had just started when he ushered me out in a polite but firm manner that could not be easily countered. So regrettably I wasn’t able to do the portrait I hoped to shoot and neither was I able to really do justice to his amazing shop, but here is what I did get in the bag in those last few minutes…
Last week I spent a few hours in the new Rapha store and coffee shop in the heart of London’s trendy Soho. The store has been open for a couple of weeks now and this kind of retail development makes an interesting contrast to the unchanging (or very slowly changing) environment that is Canterbury Cathedral. That said, whilst the store undoubtedly lacks the gravitas of a Cathedral, on the the grounds of cool and funky, this place wins hands down.
It was put together by Brinkworth Design who seem to make a habit of this kind of slightly edgy kind of work and to their credit I think they’ve done a pretty good job. The store is an interesting attempt at creating a slightly different retail environment for their brand (Rapha is a cycling brand, who have done collections with Paul Smith I believe, but fashion is really not something that interests me so don’t quote me!). The coffee shop and fashion stuff sit comfortably together united by the exposed services and rough unfinished surfaces. The place seemed to be popular, judging by the frequently changing muddy courier bicycles hanging up on the rack by the door and I particularly liked the fact that the front cab of the corrugated steel French van was made into an office, albeit a rather cramped one.