During our pre-kids days, whenever Richard and I went to London, we would go around on his Vespa. I would sit on the back and we would go around discovering cute little places. I loved going around like this, since when I had lived in London years ago, I would always just commute on the underground, going from A to B, and not actually paying attention to all that London has to offer.
On one of our drives around London, in Shoreditch, we passed this antiques shop. We noticed it because we saw a man from the shop, trying to carry this huge red chair outside the shop to display it. It all looked quite comic, with him clumsily carrying this massive red chair that was about to squash him, and when he finally got it outside it was so big it made a huge statement on the sidewalk in front of the shop. We decided to take a U-turn and have a look inside.
The man trying to carry the chair turned out to be a Japanese shop assistant. He was super surprised when I started speaking Japanese to him. We loved a lot of things in the little disorganised shop. We were in the process of decorating our London apartment, so found a nice cabinet for our kitchen and started to look at the dining room tables and chairs when the owner, William walked in with his dog. We started explaining to him what we were looking for and he quickly took us to his basement to show us all his pieces. A few days later we called William, something about him made us trust him and his taste and style. We asked him to find us some carpets and couches and chairs. He called us back a few days later after he had gone through his stock and he had found us perfect items for our apartment.
Now whenever we visit London, we make sure to call or visit William to see what he has in stock. We always end up buying something, even things we never knew we needed (like a butchers block)! Over the years we have bought many pieces from him, including a kitchen cabinet, a beautiful wooden cabinet with lots of drawers, a few couches, a few arm chairs, carpets, dining room table and chairs... And we have been so happy with the way our apartment looks with all his charming pieces of ‘art’!
I love discovering little shops like these, where the owner has so much passion for what they are doing, and actually doing something that they love.
Here is our Q&A with William:
Q: When did you start Atomic Antiques and what was your vision behind the store?
We set up business in 2001 in our current location. Before that we had been trading in Camden market. Purely out of a love of old objects. I guess the idea was to simply source some well made furniture as an alternative to what is found new on the high street, and hopefully to make a living out of it.
Q: What type of furniture do you have, and from which period? Which countries do you like traveling to most to get your vintage furniture?
Our shop constantly changes. We have no particular period or style that we stick to. It's sourced from all over Europe. Mainly UK.
Q: Do you usually buy what you like or do you also have clients asking you to look for specific pieces for them?
I always just buy what I like. If it doesn't sell then it has to be put in my home. I rarely source things as a customer request unless I'm sure it's something I'd buy anyway.
Q: What are your favourite types of antiques? (For example, I see a lot of lamps and also chairs in your shop….)
I love dealing in unusual lighting, sofas and armchairs. If it looks like it's been made with pride and love then it's a winner, design and mass production is not so important.
Q: Do you see a lot of people still interested in and designing their houses with vintage furniture?
I tend to just sell to a few regular customers. It goes to homes and lately we've sold to furnish a lot to offices. The term "vintage" means different things to different people so I just keep my head down and buy and sell objects that catch my eye.
If you live in London or visiting London, I would highly recommend you popping into William’s shop!
125 Shoreditch High Street
London E1 6JE, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 5923