The new lifestyle store iyouall on East Dulwich Road champions local businesses and is working to get the community involved with artist-run workshops
Words: Alexandra Twohey
It’s the gift of giving,’ says Matt Cottis, as he describes he and his partner’s, fellow designer Fleur Paterson, new shop, iyouall, on East Dulwich Road. ‘The idea of trying to source things that are a bit different. You can buy things online and all around the world, so we’re trying to handpick things that sit nicely when you come into that space.’
Describing themselves as ‘partners and partners’, the couple has been running iya design studio for over ten years, helping clients create brands, commercial interiors and websites.
But the concept of opening their own shop first stemmed from the pair’s adoration for rare Japanese stationary. ‘Being design nerds, we were really into stationary and cool notebooks,’ grins Cottis.
‘So we started collecting them and set up the website to sell online. It was all fairly under the radar, but we were doing the design for other people’s businesses and just thought, “why don’t we give it a go?”’
Beginning their commercial life in Deptford just eight months ago, the couple decided to open their second store having recognised the ideal ‘hybrid’ space in Dulwich. ‘Being in the south-east really does make a difference and it’s important to us,’ explains Paterson, who lives with Cottis in Sydenham.
‘There are lots of creative people and we want to celebrate that, we want people to realise what is here and why it is such a great place. It’s close to our heart and there aren’t many stores like this around.
’It would prove difficult to disagree with her because iyouall is anything but ordinary. The care that goes into curating their gift shops could be likened to the way in which a museum would go about an exhibition, and the selection of aesthetically pleasing homeware, accessories and stationary promises customers a real taste of something a little bit different.
We are committed to getting the community involved and try something new, as opposed to just purchasing
While you can expect to find a select number of bigger name brands such as Normann Copenhagen, Hightide and OYOY, their focus remains on handpicking unique and unusual items from around the world that customers would struggle to find anywhere else in the marketplace.
Using their global connections, the couple source items one would be proud to showcase in their home, and as they know exactly how and where many of the items are made, have the rare ability to inform customers about their purchases.
‘We currently have some pottery that is made by a friend of ours that lives in Bali,’ says Paterson. ‘She’s produced a collection for us to sell here, which we think is beautiful in terms of connections to us as a studio.’
But the pair finds it equally important to champion local businesses and take pride in their native collaborations. Last year in Deptford, they worked with local candlemakers, McKinley & Paget, to run a workshop where people could learn about the art form and create their own candle, and they intend to bring customers in Dulwich the same experience.
‘We are committed to getting the community involved and trying something new, as opposed to just purchasing,’ says Paterson.
We are committed to getting the community involved and trying something new
‘We kind of have one already lined up, which will be a bookbinding course,’ continues Cottis. ‘That’s with someone we’re good friends with and have worked with for about 20 years, she’s a beautiful artist and does these handmade books herself, so we’d like to extend on that.
‘We want to stand out and have that point of difference, and workshops are certainly one area we feel would be really nice to explore a little bit more
With prices starting from as little as £2, Paterson insists affordable luxury is what their customers are guaranteed, and even smaller marked items are gift-wrapped with all the TLC one would expect from a top range item in their shop.
‘We take great pride in our branding,’ says Cottis. ‘All of our packaging is designed by us and whether somebody is buying a £2 pencil or a £175 throw, they will receive exactly the same quality of presentation.’