Be an appy shopper
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. co.uk), 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