Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vintage lights

Grouping a number of vintage pendant lights together makes a very pretty display. Came across this display in Sydney in a beautiful boutique with glass book shelves as a backdrop. Sets the scene for a very romantic Victorian image.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ariel Booksellers (Sydney)

Bookshops do have a certain allure. I am not talking about the big ones but the little ones that come with very personalised service. Perhaps I harbour too many romantic notions from the movie "You've got mail ".
Love this Ariel booksellers at George Street which carries a selection of books for children and adults. Though not extensive, its range includes some classics that have stood the test of time. I was totally delighted to have found the children's book Madeline here, something that I have been searching for some time. Another big find for me is an Australian book "The Alphabet of the Human Heart - the A to Zen of Life", a beautifully illustrated book that reaffirms the good values of life.
From its little fringe curtains at the front of the shop to the old decorative wall tiles partially hidden behind the book cases, there is only one word I can think of to describe this little bookshop - charming.

The Rocks Market

Cats on the window pane of an art gallery
Pans of paella consisting of squid, mussels and scallops

Quaint and fashionable hats

Fabrics in the sunniest colours

Australian boots
Little hang ups
Parents rest area at the Rocks
Cushions and carpets in aboriginal designs
Hard rock candy

Aprons and dish towels in Australian designs and colours

A most charming way to advertise

The Rocks in Sydney is a place where the European settlers first stepped ashore in 1788. It is a short walk from Circular Quay, a tourist hotspot where the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are located. A farmer's market takes place at the Rocks from Friday to Saturday while the Rocks Market happens every Saturday and Sunday from 10am - 5pm. The streets are closed to traffic during these 2 days and tourists from around the world converge here to get the best buys of indigenous artwork, beautiful handcrafts and savour sweet treats such as home made fudge, roasted nuts and honey. Just like Paddington market, the mix of stalls here represent some of the best of Australian handcraft and design . When you are done with the whole bout of shopping, have a glass of homemade lemonade and sink your teeth into some crunchy corn.
The Rocks Weekend Market
Northern end of George and Playfair Streets
Saturday and Sunday 10am - 5pm

The Strand, Sydney

The clean cool lines within the interior of Aesop at the Strand, Sydney

The cool interior of White by Kikki. K, a Swedish stationery store at the Strand

Just like the Queen Victoria Building, the Strand was built during Victorian Sydney in 1892. It houses many of Australia's hip dress labels on the top floor such as Alannah Hill and Lisa Ho while the lower floor houses modern labels such as White by Kikki. K , a Swedish store selling an all white palette of organisation needs and Aesop, a popular Australian skincare brand. The interior of Aesop is remarkably streamlined and chic ! These 2 stores are certainly among the most stylish within the Strand.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hobbycraft miniatures

A vintage Austin caravan
A Volkwagen van with its own trailer A Morris Minor convertible
Every kid would love to own a beautiful train set
A town scene in the 60's
There is a Hobbycraft shop in Queen Victoria Building in Sydney which has a wonderful display of the tiniest miniatures ever. The details that go into the landscape of a railway station, an amusement park and the beach are amazing. I felt like Gulliver looking down at the world of the Lilliputians and wondering if one giant step of my foot would send the little people scurrying in fear. Hobbycraft also carries a nice range of vintage cars that are featured in the displays and I couldn't resist getting some of them including a Morris Minor convertible, a pink Cadillac Eldorado and an Austin caravan. I am not really into miniature cars but these vintage ones are simply too cool to resist.

Just White Toyshop in QVB Sydney

Queen Victoria Building
Where else is a mouse supposed to sleep ?
A girl called Anne
Sunbathing animals onboard Noah's Cruise
Characters from Brer Rabbit
Jack and Jill went up the hill
Hey Fiddle Diddle
Little Bo-Beep has lost her sheep
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
Shopping in Queen Victoria Building gives one a different experience. Unlike the ubiquitious modern malls, it transports you back to a time of old world charm. The QVB was designed by George McRae in 1898 and built by skilled craftsmen. Named in honour of Queen Victoria, it has since been restored a number of times. Its intricate arches, cast iron railings, domes and antique tiles make it a truly exquisite building.

There are four floors of shopping and my favourite is a lovely toy shop at the top called Just White - Queen Victoria's toyshop. Truly inspiring - the kind that comes to life in children's books before today's modern onslaught of kids' gadgets and gizmos, playstations and Wii. I love its Nursery Rhyme collection - Jack and Jill, Little Bow Beep, the Old Women who lived in a Shoe as well as its collection of Brer Rabbit and miniature furniture. My absolute favourite - a little mouse who snuggles up with his blanket in a little matchbox bed !

Paddington market, Sydney

Prints on blocks
Vintage bags and collectibles
Mirror, mirror on a fence
Beautiful hand painted book covers
The colours of summer
Something for mums to laugh about !

Hand made clothes using lovely fabric
Couldn't resist one in my name
A colourful twist to everyday toilet signs
Hanging mobiles with beautiful design patterns
Mix and match letters made in resin
Over the Chinese New Year week, I headed to Sydney to visit a very good family friend. As short as the trip was, it was fulfilling in many ways - catching up with each other's lives and soaking up the rich sunshine and glorious landscape of Sydney.

Australian design has always been colourful and rich, whether in aboriginal artwork, modern beachwear, sundresses or handmade wares and the best way to expose oneself to the bright rays of Australian-made is through its markets.
Paddington market - which is located on the grounds of the Paddington Unity Church in Oxford Street has been a landmark market for budding Australian designers. They have quite a stringent policy of renting out stalls. Their "meet the maker within the market" policy has kept it unique and upheld its quality. However, there may be an occassional stall selling vintage bags, jewellery or porcelain china. Prices may be on the high side but hand made goods are charming and do command a certain level of respect for its uniqueness. I personally love such markets for its eclectic shopping !

Paddington market
Oxford Street
Saturday 10-4pm

Address : 2 Newcombe Street
New South Wales