Somewhere along Hackney Road. Plants and antiques. The article to be submitted the next day. I tell myself these are the things you need to do along the path to becoming a writer… but as I wait anxiously for City Mapper to load on a corner somewhere in East London, all I can see are the ghosts of Hemingway and Nabokov in the rainclouds laughing down at me.
And then just like that everything turned ever-so pleasantly on itʼs head.
Stepping out of the unabated scramble of bustling Hackney Road and into the Conservatory Archives is like finding yourself in a welcomed oasis in the eye of a storm. As Billie Holiday plays from an antique Hi-Fi in the corner of the showroom I am immediately drawn to the lush green that hangs, sprouts, and shades in all itʼs natural splendour.
Only but a month into the venture, young couple Jin and Giacomo have surely cultivated a desirable environment. What used to be an old hardware store has now been reclaimed and re-fitted to showcase everything from smart Teak shelving and armchairs, to various ceramics and indoor Horticulture; all personally sourced from antique markets around Europe and Scandinavia.
Jin tells me the initial concept of the store came about when she was studying Horticulture. Whilst there seemed to be strong emphasis on landscaping and outdoor gardens, consequently there was very little in the field concerning interior design and plants- or what she fondly refers to as ʻliving sculpturesʼ… each uniquely tailored to any living space. Giacomo, on the other hand has a doctorate in Mathematics, yet through his family in Italy can be traced the love and passion of antique trading. They speak fondly of their adventures abroad sourcing stock, and the colorful eccentricities of the collectors they happen to meet along the way.
To label the Conservatory Archives as an antique shop with plants would be nearsighted and misleading. What separates them from your typical bespoke antique stores and upmarket plant shops is their vast range of exotic interior botanicals and niche furniture items; each handpicked from a couple with an eye for design. From specimen Cacti and ʻSwiss Cheese Plantsʼ in colossal ceramic pots, Fiddle Leaf Figs, hanging ʻString Of Pearlsʼ and Air Plants, to miniature plants for glass Terrarium houses and window sills… everything is flowing lush and green. No cut flowers and dried plants to be found here. The large space they have utilized enables Jin and Giacomo to showcase a vast array of unique Horticultural additions, with one-off items that are constantly changing due to demand.
And from the plant aficionado to the browsing weekend window shopper, they encourage all to pop in and take a look around, flick through one of their specialty books, chat to Jin about the Latin names of some of the species of plants, or just have a coffee from their Espresso machine and enjoy the respite from the outside world. Itʼs getting back to the madness of our busy lives that may have to wait a little longer.
(Article written for Le Bonbon, UK, 26/1/2016)