House style

Be an appy shop­per

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Jes­sica Doyle

THE HIGH-STREET depart­ment store as we know it may be strug­gling for sur­vival, but a new breed of on­line shop is aim­ing to fill the gap left by its brick­sand-mor­tar coun­ter­part, con­ve­niently of­fer­ing a range of prod­ucts by numer­ous brands un­der one vir­tual ‘roof ’.

One of the best is Hone (hon­e­store., which was launched LATE last year by in­vest­ment banker Tanya Sanyal, who was tired of hav­ing to flit from web­site to web­site when look­ing for home­wares on­line, and wanted to of­fer a more stream­lined ap­proach to fur­ni­ture shop­ping.

The premise is sim­ple: there are over 100 brands listed on the site, many of them house­hold names such as John Lewis & Part­ners, Habi­tat and The Con­ran Shop. Search for ‘ex­tend­able dining ta­ble’, for in­stance, and you’ll get over 400 ex­am­ples, from bud­get to in­vest­ment buys, which you can fil­ter ac­cord­ing to shape, size and style, and sort in or­der of price or brand name. You can save your op­tions to a mood board to share with friends for a sec­ond opin­ion on your choices, and for the canny shop­per, there’s a clever func­tion that al­lows you to reg­is­ter in­ter­est in a prod­uct, and get an email alert if it goes on sale. If you do de­cide to buy, you pur­chase di­rectly from the re­tailer.

Along sim­i­lar lines is a new app called De­sign­life, which helps to source a prod­uct that you’ve spot­ted in a restau­rant or ho­tel, or in a mag­a­zine or on­line (like the mu­sic-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion app Shazam, but for fur­ni­ture). To use it, take a pic­ture on your smart­phone of the piece of fur­ni­ture, fab­ric or wall­pa­per you want to iden­tify, open the app, and it will search its data­base of de­sign brands to find an ex­act match – or, if it can’t find a match, a sim­i­lar al­ter­na­tive – which you can buy via the app.

These on­line op­tions might not match the ex­pe­ri­ence of browsing a fur­ni­ture shop in per­son, but they do of­fer a new ap­proach to find­ing in­ter­est­ing pieces out­side your usual frame of ref­er­ence.

Clock­wise from top A room set by Maisons du Monde and a dining ta­ble from Habi­tat – both brands avail­able via Hone; the De­sign­life app

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