Spotlight on homeware

Over the past 14 months, people have connected with their homes in ways their pre-pandemic lives could never allow.

Living spaces have become home offices, home schools, entertainment venues and even indoor gyms.

Finally the end of restrictions is drawing near, but the lockdowns have no doubt permanently changed the lifestyle of many South Londoners.

Lifestyle outlet ALKEMI Store, is one of the independently-run businesses to witness a rise in demand for innovative homeware design over the past year.

ALKEMI’s owner Jeane Chung opened her store in Nunhead Lane four years ago, and last month opened a new branch in Westbourne Drive in Forest Hill.

She said: “For a lot of people, interior design is important, particularly during the past year with all the lockdowns and working from home.

“I have noticed this. We used to stock Japanese gardening tools but when lockdown hit, sales exploded. The supplier couldn’t even keep up with the demand. It just goes to show how much everyday life shifted during lockdown because people began to learn new skills.”

Korean-born Jeane moved to London 15 years ago, originally residing in east London before making the move to Brockley with her partner.

She said: “It was the best decision. There is just something about South London, everyone is so much friendlier.”

Despite her love of South London life, Jeane has always been determined to incorporate her Korean culture in her store.

The ALKEMI motto is beautiful objects for everyday life which is a vital part of East Asian design.

She said: “Korean design is very beautiful, but also very practical.

“I love explaining the tories and background of the products I stock to my customers. So many people are curious about the designs from Japan and Korea.

“It is so good to be able to introduce people to this style of design and showcase the culture that I am from. Korean design tends to use slightly more toned-down colours compared to British design. Its minimalist nature means it sits well with Scandinavian design, which is very popular now.”

You can visit ALKEMI Stores in Nunhead and Forest Hill or browse online at alkemistore.com

Light-reflecting glassware

Jeane’s homeware tips

Light-reflecting glassware

The pandemic has meant we are all spending more time at home than usual.

Consider incorporating bright, happy colours into your living space because having a pop of colour in your bedroom or home office will help lift your mood during these uncertain times.

A colourful glass vase is a good stand-alone ornament or perfect for spring/summer flower displays.

Choose pastels, ambers or ultra-blues that will look beautiful in sunlight.

Handmade glass sand timers are another popular product. They are interesting, functional, and very pretty to look at.

I recommend choosing a coloured glass – think bright yellows or deep blues and greens – with dyed black sand.

Jeane’s Top Pick:

A herbarium is a beautiful object to look at and could also be used as a paperweight.

Purple and pink flowers with green oregano leaves look beautiful in the glass dome shaped sealed jar.

Preserving the seasonal beauty from Korea, this object was developed by the Korean design studio, Style Jieum.

Prices start from £39.50

Home fragrance

A lot of people have turned to self-care products this year, with fragrance and candles being the most popular.

When picking a scent to have in your home you need to consider the purpose.

Lavender and sandalwood are calming scents – usually best used in the bedroom.

For a more uplifting mood, I would recommend honey or citrus scents, like lime.

Look for a good quality, unique design when picking a candle so you have an object that looks as good as it smells.

For a more sustainable option choose soy wax over a different type of candle wax as they tend to burn cleaner and produce less soot.

Soy wax also burns slower than paraffin wax, meaning you get a candle that lasts longer.

Honey Flamingo’s sculptural candles

Jeane’s Top Pick:

Korean design studio Honey Flamingo’s sculptural candles get a great response from customers in the UK and Europe.

Their beautifully scented candles can burn for up to 25 hours and are an elegant and beautiful way to brighten any room.

The Tube Knot candle series defines the brand with its sensual flowing design.

Priced between £24-£45

A sustainable kitchen

When picking kitchenware, it is important to look for products that are designed to last a lot longer for a more environmentally-friendly option.

Traditionally animal hair is used for products like pan scrubbers or vegetable brushes, but I’ve noticed that a lot of South Londoners are vegan or prefer using animal-free products.

I recommend Japanese tawashi brushes as a solution to this.

Tawashi is made from coconut tree fibres and for centuries, these kinds of brushes have been used in Japan for cleaning pots and dishes.

They work well on dirt but won’t damage your kitchenware – and last a long time which makes them much more sustainable.

Japanese tawashi brushes

Jeane’s Top Pick:

Zero Waste Club natural cleaning brushes are made from waste materials that are by-products from different industries such as coconut harvesting.

All the brushes and scrubbers are tough on dirt but won’t damage your pots and pans – and they come in natural colours.

Prices start from £3.

Interview by Lottie Kilraine

 

 


 

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