Modern Design Shops We Love

On the lookout for the next big thing? Be among the first to know when you step inside these havens for the latest in contemporary design. Some carry a local stamp, others take inspiration from movements all over the world, but all offer some delicious eye-candy to travelers.

1191 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X3, Canada
In Portuguese, saudade is yearning for something that once was. And at Saudade, a lifestyle store smack in the center of Toronto’s Little Portugal neighborhood, the goal is to make the customer yearn for the old country (or wish a country as cool as Portugal were their old country). White walls provide the backdrop for a variety of handmade crafts and Portuguese products. Wrapped soaps from Porto, vividly colored ceramic pitchers, handbags basket-woven in rainbow hues, painted serving platters, and wooden racks displaying gorgeous textiles of cotton and wool fill the shop.
111 Bd Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris, France
It isn’t uncommon to see large tour buses idling in front of Merci, one of the city’s most popular home and design shops, as visitors alight, armed with canvas shopping totes and credit cards at the ready. The store’s philanthropic mission brings in droves of both tourists and locals—profits are donated to a charity in Madagascar that aids women and children. It is a veritable feel-good shopping destination. One caveat: The goods for sale don’t come cheap. While high-end homewares and designer duds don’t match all budgets, Merci’s space itself is undeniably cool. When I’m feeling strapped for cash and want the Merci experience, I head to its Used Book Café. Used books, old and new, decorate this cozy library-inspired café where I can read, write, people-watch (and play the guessing game of “What’s in that Merci bag?”), and rejuvenate with a freshly pressed lemonade. With each sip, a feeling of calm washes over me—a type of Zen harder to reach on the bustling streets of Paris. All beverages, hot or cold, are served with a bite-size piece of cake and a smile. Grab one of the mismatched vintage armchairs, the fresh scones with jam, or the American-sized lattes. But on a warm, sun-drenched Paris day, it’s the citronnade between shop-hopping that sets you right.
Jl. Kayu Aya No.21, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Kim Soo Home, a French-inspired boutique shop in Seminyak, carries everything from Indonesian ethnic pieces to handmade textiles and wooden furniture. If you’re looking to pick up something to remind you of your trip to Bali, you’ll find it here—the shop stocks items from makers throughout the archipelago, along with its own unique, locally made designs. It’s difficult to leave the airy and carefully manicured store, but you can decompress for a bit in the stylish adjoining café before you reenter the harsh world outside.
2725 State Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008, USA
In 2016, one of San Diego’s most seasoned restaurant managers decided to open his first solo project, bringing Campfire to Carlsbad. The eatery is dedicated to the art of live-fire cooking and draws inspiration from famed Argentine chef Francis Mallmann. In the kitchen, executive chef Andrew Bachelier uses a custom 12-foot hearth, powered by a Grillworks grill named Grace, to cook dishes like manila clams with smoked pork belly, and brisket with cornbread purée. Located in a former auto repair shop, the restaurant features quirky design elements like a Quonset-style corrugated-metal arch sourced from nearby Camp Pendleton and dating back to World War II.
Østergade 61, 2, 1100 København, Denmark
There are two reasons to pop into the two-story showroom Hay House. The first, and most important, is that this is one of the best places to see what’s new and interesting in contemporary Danish design. The store is filled with cool, colorful stuff, so much so that getting out without buying something can be a challenge. The second reason: From the upper floor you can take in a great view of Amagertorv, one of the city’s prettier squares.
20 Manchester Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Find cool pieces by an array of new and noteworthy Australian brands at this small concept store, founded to showcase independent designers in an artistic shopping environment. The Melbourne space stocks a monthly edit of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, with original and limited-edition pieces by around 100 local lines. With so many unique options on offer, you’ve got an excellent chance of finding something that perfectly suits your aesthetic, be it a little black dress by Ella Fashion, or attention-grabbing earrings by Plain Janes. If you can’t find what you’re looking for downtown, you can always check out the other Design a Space locations in Fitzroy and Windsor—the selection is different at each store.
Skindergade 7, St, 1159 København, Denmark
There isn’t a shop in town that feels happier than Studio Arhoj. Tucked away in a courtyard in the up-and-coming Islands Brygge area, this workshop and store showcases the distinctive Scandinavia-meets-Japan ceramics of local designer Anders Arhoj. From brightly colored Ghosts (conical creatures with eyes wide open) to Asian-style Yuki vases, as well as art prints, cards, and assorted other items, there’s a nice mix of the cartoonish and the elegant. Plus, you can watch the potters and ceramicists at work as you browse the shelves.
Rámová, 110 00 Staré Město, Czechia
The original Qubus shop and studio opened in 2002 in this tiny space located just a short walk from the Old Town Square. Here design enthusiasts could pick up a pair of porcelain Wellington boots from Maxim Velčovský or any of the other quirky designs by him and co-founder Jakub Berdych, and in 2008, they opened a design store in the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art. Now called Qubus + Bomma, the original store includes lights and decorative glass items from modern Czech glassware company Bomma, and alongside the porcelain boots, you can find the massive TIM lamps from Olgoj Chorchoj Studio or strikingly simple decorative glass items from design studio Dechem. Consider it a lesson in contemporary Czech design.
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