The Lollipop Shoppe

From Eames to Eki, The Lollipop Shoppe is the proud purveyor of furniture and accessories that are beautiful, functional and interesting. Fuelled by B-movie horror posters, vintage fashion and a commitment to excellence without attitude, its co-founders Siobhan and Marco Di Rienzo are always on the lookout for new and exciting designs to add to their growing collection. With a delicate mix of classic and cutting-edge, their UK stores in Brighton and London are quiet treasure troves in which you can delve amongst outstandingly crafted objects and indulge your curiosity – without fear of getting told off.

Having recently collaborated with It’s Nice That for London Design Festival, and with a brand new Brighton store on the horizon, it’s a busy and exciting time for The Lollipop Shoppe. We spoke to Siobhan to find out more about the people, the products and the inspiration that have made it what it is today.

How did you come up with the name ‘The Lollipop Shoppe’? Anything to do with the 60s band?
Marco, my husband and co-founder of the company is a huge 60s Garage/Psychedelic music fan so the shop is named after the band. We wanted something that would stand out, not a run-of-the-mill, design-focused name.

What are your backgrounds?
Marco has a retail background. Having completed a retail management degree at the University of Surrey, he then went into store management with a well-known department store. Before opening the stores I had a concession selling vintage clothing and accessories called ‘Freedesign’ in Liberty, Regent Street, London with my best friend Jody Moss. We sold a lot of British vintage by designers like Ossie Clark, Janice Wainwright and Biba together with a few key pieces from design houses such as Pucci and Chanel.

We both have a love of 1950s Scandinavian glass and ceramics and before having children used to spend weekends away in Scandinavia trawling flea markets for pieces. From that we both developed a keen interest in classic pieces of modern design and we started a website selling pieces of furniture and accessories that we would bring back from our travels. Marco also has an obsession with B-Movie horror posters.

How do you go about researching and selecting pieces to stock?
We are constantly on the lookout for new stock. We attend many of the trade fairs during the year such as the Milan and Stockholm Furniture Fairs as this is where the more established brands tend to launch their new collections, and if you look hard enough you can find some great pieces by lesser-known designers. Whenever we are away though, be it on holiday or business, our eyes are constantly searching for interesting objects. We like to stand out from the crowd so it is important to find beautiful objects that other stores in the UK don’t stock, such as the VASA sculptures we discovered on a trip to San Francisco, and the Eki watches sourced from Japan.

You must get a lot of requests from designers to stock their products, especially with your prominent location in Spitalfields. So, what makes something pass the test?
Beauty, functionality and individuality.

Who or what inspires you?
My children.

You recently supported It’s Nice That for their London Design Festival guide. What’s the story behind your

collaboration with them?
We have known the guys at INT for a while and we were discussing a few ideas to collaborate for LDF 2011. We felt strongly about working together as we both stand for the same values: originality and excellence without attitude. After many ideas we thought it would be good to put together a guide for LDF that not only highlighted the best exhibitions but also contained some great interviews, proving that excellent content can be free.

Your stores are known for having a cosy, homelike atmosphere, which has been beautifully shaped by Found Architects. Can you describe to us what your new store in Brighton is going to be like?
The store will be housed in a three-storey Georgian building with large floor-to-ceiling bay windows on the first and second floors and a large square bay shop front on the ground floor. Found have used the same blueprint as the London store, so it will feel like much more of a branded experience than you get in our current Brighton store in the North Laine, and we will also be carrying a lot more brands.

What made you decide to open this new store?
Our current Brighton store opened just over four years ago and we have grown hugely as a company ever since. After we opened in Spitalfields it became obvious to us that we had outgrown Brighton’s Trafalgar Street and started to search around the swanky area known as The Lanes, but the search took a long time to come to fruition as the new store needed to be perfect.

The Lollipop Shoppe balances high-end design products with a feeling of relaxed accessibility. What was your inspiration for this approach to the brand?
Too many design stores feel like museums where you don’t feel comfortable touching the products. We wanted to create an atmosphere where people felt they could interact with the pieces. Also, staff are hugely important. Ours are really knowledgeable people who love the products and their enthusiasm really comes over to our customers. We are not about the ‘hard sell’; we want people to love the pieces as much as we do. Some of the larger pieces are a long-term investment, so we want our customers to be happy with what they purchase and to have received honest advice to help them choose items that fit with their home and lifestyle. We also realise that a lot of our customers are young creatives who can’t yet buy into the more expensive furniture items, so we have a great range of accessories to meet all pockets.

Your stores present a healthy mix of established and up-and-coming designers. Can you name some of your best-sellers?
We always have staple long-running best-sellers such as the Eames Plastic Range produced by Vitra and the Hans Wegner Wishbone chair, but newer, less established pieces we sell strongly include Klauser and Carpenters Canteen furniture. With regards to accessories, we are seeing the new textile range by Klaus Haapaniemi and Hoganas ceramics flying out of the door.

What do you think are the key elements for the perfect home?
Practicality, comfort and a reflection of the owner’s personality.

Finally, do you have any plans to open more stores in the UK or abroad in the future?
We can never say no to a good opportunity.

Amy Knight, Arts and Media Correspondent