Products, fashion and style

Concrete mix

Do yourself a favour this year - be original and buy from a true independent. Words: Paul Dale

have this reoccurring nightmare. I'm stuck in traffic on a ring

road. all the signs point to lKEA. l glance into the other cars:

smug couples vie for space in a million Mondeos. lobotomised grins glance down at hand—written lists. I notice the nearest exit has been blocked off by Aryan-looking policemen in tight bicycle shorts and dayglow wave-on sticks. l awake in a sweat. glance at my new | Elvis calendar and vow to keep it local this year by shopping on foot.

The only trouble is that the people I’ll be buying gifts for in 2003 are couples who have been terrified into buying their first home and then hoodwinked by the interior design press into decorating it with Conranian minimalism via Habitat. What they really need is a touch of originality from their gift-bearing friends to smudge the clean lines of their homes. And there is no better place to start than Concrete Butterfly. or if you are in the mood for outre British fashion. its sister shop Concrete Wardrobe.

Alistair Gall. furniture designer and founder of Concrete Butterfly takes up the story. ‘It all started as a facility to show our own furniture from the workshop.‘ Gall has been making disarmineg pleasing solid wood

fumiture for 14 years. fitting out IWe just

some of Edinburgh's most

prestigious restaurants his latest want to project was ()utsider.

‘When these premises became available] says Gall of Concrete‘s and _ Cowgate location. ‘they were pretty run down. it was the arse end of the Old Town and the parliament hadn‘t yet been announced. We completely blitzed the premises and l commissioned Andy Stoane. the architect. to design the place. The way Andy designed the interior it became very clear early on that we needed to sell accessories as well. The form the shop was taking just lent itself to it. It became about developing an innovative retail facility that was different from anything else that was going on; we just want to promote and sell good design.’

With the help of two fellow artists and buyers Fiona Mackintosh and James Donald. Gall has certainly succeeded. The shop is

Let’s go back: the

bursting with the aesthetic and divine. The sumptuous lightboxes of demand for retro the Catalan Marc Albert Fane hustle for space with Makkum design has never porcelain beakers (cast from orange nets). Fissler kitchen stools. been grea‘e'

Scabctti condiment sets. Mathmos lava lamps. Sophie B ceramics and Alma clocks. ‘Pretty much everything we've got here is exclusive to us. There is very little here you would find anywhere else in Scotland.‘

Concrete Wardrobe began during the lidinburgh Festival of 2001 when fashion designers Fiona and James approached Alistair with a view to using the empty space next door to showcase and sell the work of local designers. It was such a hit that they became a permanent fixture. Wardrobe‘s collection includes the gorgeous work of Tessuti. Pick One. Alison Curr. knitwear queen Roobedo. Holly Fulton (with a truly awesome suede dress). Sue Heathcote (desirable dimpled shrug scarves). Miss Budd. Lesley ()rbiston. Lynn Ramsey and Dupp Dupp. Fiona is almost evangelical about Wardrobe: “It’s unique in the fact that among other things we are promoting is Scottish design. We believe that it is important to keep the good designers up here by giving them as much exposure as possible. thus hindering an exodus down south. It‘s a struggle but it's worth it.‘

I Concrete Butterfly, 377 Cowgate, Edinburgh, 0731 558 7 730, www. concretebutterfly. com

88 THE LIST 2—16 Jan 2008