Before all the doom and gloom, I got the chance to take a very special private tour of the West Elm shop floor just one week before it opened. Occupying the former Pier store on Tottenham Court Road and with two facades of giant window concealing the hive of activity behind I could not WAIT to get in amongst it all with associate marketing manager Jessica.
For those new to the West Elm homeware brand, this now international name began with just one store in Brooklyn and is part of the Williams-Sonoma company. Remember that episode of Friends where Phoebe fell in love with every piece of furniture Rachel bought from Pottery Barn and was convinced they were all original collonial? Yep-that's Williams-Sonoma! Now, West Elm has stores across the U.S, Canada, Australia and finally our very own London town. And yes, I'm excited.
During my tour I was very kindly allowed to take a few shots of some of my favourite products, I think you already know I'm a huge fan of metallic gold, but just in case you didn't...
There was a real buzz in the air watching the visual merchandising team, flown in from the U.S working their magic, unpacking, sorting through and styling up box upon box of deliveries with a calm head and heaps of energy. As Jess walked me through each section of the store, from the living wall of plants on the ground floor (yes, they're all real and their hydration system is controlled from America!) to the West Elm Market -a social hub for coffee and croissants, cooking utensils and tableware, to the basement with its modern and stylish bedding, furniture and soft furnishings, I absolutely couldn't wait to see the store in all its glory. Unlike some shopping experiences where you're left feeling cold and uncomfortable, here you're encouraged to touch and try. The products have a sense of warmth, a story. There's something for everyone here, prices are accessible and the quality is excellent.
West Elm is an environmentally conscientious brand too, taking care to responsibly source their product materials, from organic and recycled textiles and fabrics to non-toxic dyes. A large portion of their products have also been designed and created in collaboration with artisans which personally I love-it's so important to support and showcase talented creatives. These hand-painted bowls are a perfect example of this -aren't they stunning?
An example to all major retailers, West Elm is well known for its in-store workshops, many of which are featured on their blog, Front & Main. With an aim to become a community centric store, much of these workshops are free on a first come first served basis and range from crafts to entertaining to styling. Do keep an eye out in the new year for announcements. There may even be one or two from me. Hint-hint.
The store officially opened on the 5th and you can now spend a leisurely hour (or two if you like) wandering the shop floor and discovering perfect pieces for your home. Christmas is on its way too, right? Looking for an update for the bedroom in the new year? Maybe a rug for the dining room? Show the team some love and stop by and say hello!
Best of luck in your new home West Elm, I hope London treats you well and I very much look forward to collaborating with you in 2014!