It seems every time I visit this fascinating emporium, I uncover yet another alluring piece of treasure that I simply cannot walk away from. Here are some of this week’s finds:

SOFTLY, SOFTLY
These gorgeous cable-knit blankets, made of 100% merino wool, come in a range of relaxing, neutral tones, and are wonderful for snuggling under on the sofa or as an extra layer against the cold on snowy nights. Go on - warm up a loved one this Christmas. Blankets by Ines Cole: £115
See our Textile Collection



CHOP, CHOP
Even the most mundane item gives so much more pleasure when beautifully made, and culinary enthusiasts will appreciate these stylish chopping boards made in India, from smooth mango wood. They vary in size from small - ideal for making quick work of chopping herbs or crushing spices, to a large version - which helps with tackling grand challenges such as melons or celeriac. They also make very smart and pleasing cheese boards. Chopping boards by Ines Cole, from £28



BOBBIN FOR CANDLES
Everyone loves candles; they bring a wonderful atmosphere of calm to any living space, and the more the merrier; especially at this time of year. These are cleverly made from upcycled wooden bobbins and you can even buy handmade candles to go in them. Wooden candlesticks by Ines Cole £26
See our Collection of Candlesticks



BOLLYWOOD THROW
You don’t really need a reason to buy one of these - they are just gorgeous, and add a splash of mystic Eastern glamour when draped over chairs and sofas or used as bedspreads. Made of thick, quilted cotton and hand-blocked in India - each one is unique. Vintage Indian throws by Ines Cole, around £125
See our Textile Collection



CHAPATTI TABLE COASTER
Here’s an ingenious and stylish way to protect your wooden tabletops. These old chapatti boards from southern India are made of dark, polished teak and are perfect for putting serving dishes on when they come out of the kitchen, or even the oven. Wooden chapatti boards by Ines Cole, £28
See our Oriental and Indian Collection



GEMSTONE AND SPARKLE
Unwrapping a pair of these pretty, glittering earrings made with with semi-precious stones, set in gold-plated silver, will make somebody’s Christmas Day. Antonia Graham’s magical collection of jewellery at The Old Cinema has all been designed and hand-finished in India, and no stone is left unturned; you will find agate, amethyst or amber rings, necklaces hung with garnets, gold bangles studded with peridots or onyx - the selection is breathtaking. Earrings from a selection, starting at £20
See our Collection of Jewellery



CLASSY CUFFS
Scandinavia is hot right now, and a set of retro Nordic cufflinks makes a very cool gift which will last a lifetime. Sandy Stanley is a top name in 1960‘s and 70‘s jewellery and her collection of Scandinavian pieces at The Old Cinema includes an impressive array of simple but impactful designs made in solid silver and typical of the era. But snap these up they are going fast! Selection of Scandinavian silver cufflinks, from £50
See our Collection of Cufflinks



THINK OF A LETTER
This unusual, cylindrical Edwardian letter rack offers a handsome solution to piles of post lying around waiting to be attended to, and will look splendid sitting on a desk or sideboard. Made of polished mahogany and inlaid with gold leaf, it is a memorable gift for someone who appreciates quality and craftsmanship. Edwardian letter rack; £550
See our Collection of Antique Boxes & Stationery



THE BEWITCHING HOUR...
Be a little different! These gloriously decadent vintage blue glasses are just the thing for bejewelled party guests to sip their champagne cocktails from. Wonderful for festive gatherings - or just for cosy cocktails à deux; they will transform any tipple into something sublime and memorable. 8 x mid-century vintage cocktail/champagne glasses; £135M
See our Collection of Barware



With the festive season approaching, we invited local savvy shophound, Lily Oliver to The Old Cinema to hunt out some desirable gifts.

Ok, I give in; illuminated Santas twinkle above crowded streets, trees, baubles and tinsel are everywhere and the heavy scent of cloves, cinnamon and roasting chestnuts hangs in the air. Christmas is definitely coming. But this year, instead of sticking my head in a box of Heston’s mince-pies and leaving everything to the last minute, I’m determined to be more organised, and I’ve also got a new present-buying strategy.

This year I intend to eschew the Serengeti-like stampede into the West End; all that pushing through crowds in hot department stores; hastily grabbing random items which I later find myself trying desperately to match to names on a list; ‘hat for her, socks for him’ etc. These are my nearest and dearest; surely they deserve a little more care and goodwill than this?

My Christmas shopping experience this year, will be altogether more enjoyable and rewarding. To start with, I’m staying local. As well as an enviable selection of restaurants - including the odd Michelin star - we Chiswickians, also have a fair smattering of interesting and unusual shops, so buying needn’t become a chore but can actually be a pleasure.

My plan is to buy gifts that are special, and unique; that speak of another world or a bygone era; something different to the usual high-street offering. So, after a fortifying cappuccino at High Road House; favoured hangout of cool media types, I wander next door to The Old Cinema; a West London bastion of freer thinking spirits (and the occasional celeb), who come in search of something unusual, interesting or fun. It’s all here; retro, vintage, antique, up-cycled, contemporary chic, or plain eccentric and hard to narrow it down to just a few suggestions - but here are some of my favourites.


A MEAN MARTINI
For hard-to-please men in your life, who maybe aspire towards a little Bond-like glamour, (or who could do with a little shaking and stirring) a cocktail shaker is a handsome and practical gift - and will also help the party go with a swing! There are lots to choose from here, in all styles and to please all pockets. Cocktail shakers from £45.
INDIAN SPICE
Scarves, spreads and throws make gorgeous gifts; these, from a sumptuous selection are all from northern India and are perfect for perking up a winter wardrobe, or bringing a splash of colour to a tired sofa. Choose from pure cashmere shawls in rich, soft shades, or vibrantly patterned scarves woven from a mixture of silk and fine wool in Rajasthan. You’ll also find piles of glorious hand-blocked, quilted cotton bedspreads - to bring a little exoticism to the boudoir! Indian scarves and throws, a selection from £45.


DIG THE PIG
Here’s one to bring a smile. Anyone would be charmed by these wonderful farmyard animals, cleverly made from old tin oil barrels. They come in an assortment of colours and sizes and make delightful and unusual house gifts - or maybe an amusingly appropriate one for a couch-potato brother-in-law who never offers to do the washing-up! Selection of tin animals from £45.






GATSBY GLAMOUR

The Old Cinema has a trove of delightful brocante pieces which are always welcome and unusual presents. Photo frames are perennially popular and almost impossible to go wrong with and you’ll find many to choose from here. These, in gloriously decadent Art Deco-style are a dream for starlets and divas, or in fact anyone with memories to cherish. Even Great Uncle Rodney will look grand in one of these. Art Deco-style frames from £45.

CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT
There is no better way to add warmth and atmosphere to a room than a glorious array of beautiful brass candlesticks. And use them to maximum effect by distributing as many as you can in different shapes and sizes, wherever you have a dark corner. The effect is magical - and somehow everyone looks so much better in candlelight. Edwardian brass candlesticks from £10.

NORTHERN ROCKS
This stunning agate pendant, suspended from a simple silver choker is a real statement-with-style piece. Fabulous worn with an evening dress and bare shoulders; it would also look great with a simple shirt and jeans Part of an intriguing collection of 1970’s Scandinavian silverware - now becoming highly collectible - this has an understated Nordic cool. 1970‘s Silver pendant £180.
WHAT A DISH...
For those who like a mix of contemporary, up-cycled and delightfully non-shabby, chic - Ines Cole offers a deeply desirable collection of stylish homeware. These bowls make a beautiful rustic centrepiece are individually carved from solid marble. You’ll also find chunky re-cycled glass rummers in different colours, quirky wooden candlesticks, upholstered stools and ottomans; colourful vintage storage tins, woven rugs and an array of unusual lights and lamps. Marble bowls in various sizes, from £45.
TOP OF THE TREE
Ines also has some fabulous hand-blowntree decorations for the smartest trees in town - but get them quick; they are going fast! Glass tree decorations from £8.
FINALLY - A LITTLE GENTLEMAN’S RELISH

And something rather special. Domed Coromandel Writing Box edged with radial brass, and with a double line of brass stringing. The box opens in two stages. Raising the lid reveals the vertical leather lined and gold tooled stationery rack, the front of which holds the ivory page turner. The horizontal section consists of a pen tilt and compartment underneath, two small lidded compartments, a pair of engraved brass screw-top ink bottles, and three white writing slates, framed with gold tooled leather, on which can be written notes memoranda etc. in pencil, which can then be removed with a rubber eraser or a damp cloth. The box is then unfolded again, and the original gold tooled deep blue velvet writing surface is revealed. The compartments beneath the writing surfaces are both lined with glorious satinwood.. Wooden Desk Set £3,300.

Fascinated by the Odeon-style glamour of Art Deco and the 1930‘s, Paul Donaldson specialises in the decorative glassware that so captured the spirit of the decade. What particularly stands out from his sparkling collection at The Old Cinema is his impressive selection of Deco cut-glass scent atomisers and dressing table sets; often bought as gifts for the unashamedly feminine -  or indeed just by those of us seeking a little decadent adornment for our boudoir or bathroom!  Decanters, tumblers, and champagne flutes are also popular gift choices, and it is still possible to pick up a set of hand-blown Edwardian wine glasses in perfect condition, for a reasonable sum.  Some pieces are endearingly quirky and guarantee a smile; such as the ‘Dalmation’ decanter, complete with ‘pup’ shot glasses.  




Trained as a dancer at an early age, by Peggy Spencer at her eponymous dance academy in south London, Paul has had his own taste of the limelight.  He was one of those selected to perform in the Beatles film; ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, which he says was huge fun; if rather chaotic.  Urged on by his enthusiastic parents, Paul even competed in the regional heats of theTV show; 'Come Dancing' but eventually realised that dancing wouldn’t pay the bills. Paul then trained as a professional chef, before going on to enjoy a long career as cabin crew with  British Airways. He retired a few years ago and whilst his dancing days are behind him, he does still enjoy cooking.  But he spends most of his time indulging his real passion - buying and selling interesting pieces of 20th Century glass.

Paul always  enjoyed frequenting junk shops,  and he particularly remembers a quirky place in a Georgian house in Brentford in the 1980’s; piled high with furniture, glass and bric-a-brac,  which opened just two days a week.  The owner would advise Paul on what to look for, and the tricky business of buying and selling. “She’d say, ‘there’s this auction in Guildford - meet me there and I’ll show you what to do’” he recalls.  He was grateful for her help: “It was a different world and it’s daunting when you start out.”   Paul then began buying and selling in earnest and was especially drawn to Art Deco, which was still fairly easy to come by, and reasonably priced; whereas now there is a much higher demand for it.

Has he ever had any exciting ‘finds’?  Paul smiles: “Well I did once come across a pair of Viennese hock glasses by Otto Prutscher at a fair;  they were in perfect condition, but not marked. I bought them for nearly nothing and ended up selling them at auction for  £3,000 at auction. I think that was my best buy.”   


Paul moved his collection up to The Old Cinema a few years ago and has never looked back.

“I love vibrant colours against a canvas of white walls; the idea of being able to constantly change and add accessories, furniture and textiles in lots of different patterns and themes”. Such is Lucy Salem’s attitude to living which pervades her collection at The Old Cinema. Pieces are constantly changing but you may find a vintage chest of drawers painted in vividly contrasting shades of  pistachio, cobalt and paprika; a pair of neat 1950’s armchairs newly covered in duck-egg blue velvet, or a slightly eccentric retro tiled table with chrome legs. Even prosaic items  become objects of beauty designed to light up dark corners; check out her glittering wastepaper bins, upcycled medicine chest  or brightly painted hatstands


Like many of  the dealers at The Old Cinema, Lucy comes from an artistic background. Her grandmother was an interior decorator with a shop in Knightsbridge, where Lucy spent a lot of her spare time,  and her mother was an antique dealer, who sold jewellery and clothing at  Portobello market on Saturday mornings so Lucy moved variously between smart, and shabby chic and both were to inspire her creative instinct.  

Lucy herself studied Fashion and Textiles at Cordwainers and she went on to specialise in designing shoes and handbags. Now a design developer for a well-known brand, she juggles a hectic life between managing a team and overseeing concepts for luxury fashion accessories.  As a busy mum with a pretty much full-time job, Lucy’s time at the Old Cinema is precious: “I love being here and particularly overhearing what people say as they walk round; the ones that remember these retro items when they appeared first time round and those, younger visitors who are seeing them for the first time - it’s fascinating” she says. 


With colour her main motivation, Lucy spends much time scurrying off to antiques fairs and markets,  and comes back with whatever she can fit into her tiny Nissan Micra. “I understand why people deal in jewellery” she laughs: “It’s so much more portable”.  Old pieces of furniture are picked up, restored, painted, and given their own unique appeal. Everything is recycled as she feels that more and more, this is what people are looking for, “because it has so much more character and no two pieces are the same” she explains.  Lucy also stocks a number of paintings and her most recent acquisition was an original commission for the 1960’s iconic boutique - Bus Stop. “I had it up in my hallway for a long time” she says; “It’s so redolent of the era, it’s wonderful”.



One of the fasting-selling and most popular elements of Lucy’s collection are her beautiful silk cushions, made with old silk scarves which are cleverly cut to create striking new designs, then backed with velvet and filled with feathers. It is a wonderfully creative way to use up beautiful lengths of patterned silk which would otherwise just sit in a drawer -  and clearly Chiswick customers agree since she can’t seem to make enough of them.

The arrival of the Swatch in 1983 revolutionized time keeping. In the late 70s, wristwatches were synonymous with Swiss jewels of careful craftsmanship, with few changes as they passed through generations. However, the introduction to the market of low cost Asian alternatives that challenged the Swiss in quality, saw a rapid decline in fortunes of the Swiss wristwatch.


Not Vital


Nicolas G. Hayek saw a solution. His curiosity with a “second watch”, an inexpensive yet uplifting time piece that captured the personality of an individual, would prove to be the saviour of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Radical and vibrant designs (not to mention the move to plastic), catalysed a growing trend of the Swatch Watch amongst an entire generation’s youth.




Over the years, Swatch has quickly established itself to be the trailblazer of watch brands. Continuous innovation in relation to texture and colour, including invitations to artists to design their own watch, has guaranteed that Swatch remained at the top. The establishment of the Collectors Club as well as limited edition releases, have fueled a society of collectors that continue to see the value in their favorite Swatch watch.




From the very beginning, the connection between Swatch and art through Pop culture was inseparable. In 1984 Kiki Picasso was the first artist commissioned to design a piece, followed by a series of Keith Haring designs. Other notable contributions come from Akira Kurosawa, Spike Lee, Renzo Piano, Yoko Ono, Vivienne Westwood, Not Vital and Annie Leibovitz.

As swatch continue to write the future of watch design, the fascination with vintage swatches will always remain. As numbers dwindle vintage classics rise in value, and with so many keen collectors, it’s never too difficult to track down the swatch that best describes you.

We currently have a large collection of Swatch's available at The Old Cinema, ranging from £60 each.






 


Mark Ardern is a recently retired consultant psychiatrist for whom collecting has become an all-consuming passion. In fact he goes so far as to say, with a wry smile, that there is often something very addictive in the process:  “When you see something you want, the heart takes over the head; sense and logic go out of the window and you just have to have it” he explains. He now has more time to indulge his hobby and one senses he makes the most of it.  At first glance, Mark’s cabinet appears a rather eclectic mix, but  in fact each piece in his collection of 20th Century decorative items, has been carefully selected for its quality and design, and for being representative of its era.





Creative from a young age; Mark describes himself as an ‘arty type’ who was always fascinated by design and loved drawing.  An only child he grew up never knowing his grandparents and puts his interest in antiques partly down to wanting a link to a past that he never knew.  He always enjoyed poking around in junk shops, buying the odd piece,  but it wasn’t until the mid-90’s when he visited Vienna that the interest really began: “I was amazed by the amount of Austrian Art Nouveau pieces available to buy in the shops there” he recalls. He started collecting German Jugenstil and English Arts & Crafts and became fascinated with Bauhaus and Modernism, then Art Deco -  and with how one style led to another: “It all seemed to fall together like a jigsaw” he says.

Mark’s specialist interest is in Viennese Secessionism (c.1900-1918), a movement which  rejected academic tradition and conservatism and, advocated freedom of style and subject across the arts.  It was a period of prolific activity  and although pieces are now harder to find, Mark regularly visits Vienna and still finds the odd Secessionist gem; such as an embellished glass bowl by Johann Oetl Haida  or a silver trinket box by Josef Margold. He also has some interesting Art Nouveau pieces  including  a pair of iridescent green Art Nouveau vases by Joseph Rindskopf & Sons which are typical of the period.

For those interested in the mid-late 20C there are many treasures. Scandinavian design is ever-popular, and pieces such as a  Georg Jensen hand mirror or a set of 1950’s silver-gilt  Danish teaspoons make wonderful gifts.  And the occasional piece of delightful kitsch can also be found:  A vintage Larry the Lamb porcelain figurine sits demurely between a Gothic Revival brass lidded urn and a Viennese 1930’s brass pin tray from which a miniature female golfer swings a tiny club.

Mark interest  adds an extra dimension to travel;  “I don’t just go to places to find stuff but it’s the icing on the cake if I do” he says.   And of course  there is a buzz in finding something when the seller doesn’t know its worth; although, as he says, it works both ways;  “I might have bought something which I know is a particular style, but don’t know a lot about; which for someone else might be a real find. But that’s how it should be - it’s no fun if everything is at the market rate and there are no surprises”.


Mark admits he prefers buying pieces,  to selling them; “But that’s why I like having a collection here - someone else sells it for me” he laughs. He appreciates the network of specialists found within The Old Cinema, and says the place has a very special charm; “There’s no competition for this place;  it’s like a tardis - you never know what you are going to find”.

Lesley McNamee is the founder and owner of Retropolitan -  an online interiors business,  specialising in 20th Century vintage items. Part of her gloriously retro collection can be found at The Old Cinema, and a browse around it throws a whole new light on decorative arts of the 1950’s  to 1970s.  Heavy, angular vases and bowls made of deep blue and dark green Czech glass,  colourfully glazed West German ceramics and a wonderful selection of kitsch items;  including 1950’s cocktail accessories, and yellow, pressed glass Scottie dog butter dishes, all have their place.  Lesley’s affection for every item in her collection and her in-depth knowledge of her subject, somehow bestows each carefully selected piece with a cool new allure - a world away from swirly patterned carpets and Ritz crackers. 



 Born into an antiques background; Lesley’s mother was an antiques dealer with an eye for decorative glass, whilst her step-mother had an Art Gallery in Church Street selling 20th Century art and ephemera, so Lesley learned the practicalities of the business from an early age.  She began a career in media but indulged her interest in the decorative arts running weekend stalls in Camden and Portobello. Eventually, she packed in the job, launched a website and started collecting in earnest.  She now juggles her time visiting antiques fair to buy pieces for her collection and running her busy website;  with dashing to and from music festivals in a camper van, with her record label boss husband - for whom she works two days a week.



The mid-20th Century was an exciting time for European glassware.  The proliferation of factory glass, and the development of techniques from the 1950’s, meant that  highly decorative and colourful pieces, became more affordable.  The Murano Glassworks in Italy, Holmegaard and Kosta in Scandinavia, Val St Lambert in Belgium,  and Whitefriars and Caithness in Britain, all had their own distinctive styles and all made an influential contribution to the international glassware scene.  Talented glass designers in then Czechoslovakia,  were also making beautiful pieces, which are only now  being fully appreciated   As Lesley points out: “Glass is a wonderful way of accenting colour in a room,  and it’s still possible to pick up decorative pieces for very reasonable prices”. 

In ceramics, West Germany was one of the biggest players.  Strongly influenced by the design principles of the Bauhaus, and also by the current Pop Art movement, German craftsmen used vibrant colours and striking, bubbled glazes;  leading to the the style being nicknamed Fat Lava. They are not to everyone’s taste. “You either love them or hate them” says Lesley and she points to a splendid,  dark brown vase with a vibrant orange glaze; a popular colour combination in the 60’s. “This is by Scheurich from West Germany;  they were producing some wonderful ceramics; some of it was quite ugly, but a lot of it was stunning, really exciting, and quite unlike anything else being made at the time.”


Lesley travels all over Europe searching for interesting pieces.  Her customers value her taste and judgement but also her specialist knowledge, which means she knows the provenance of each piece.  She wants her collection to be accessible to everyone and explains: “I enjoy selling to design-conscious customers who want to own something unique, but affordable,  from a bygone age, and which will increase in value.” And indeed, such is Lesley’s sense of style and her enthusiasm for her collection,  it’s hard to walk away without wanting to own a small piece of it!


Lesley’s collection can be found online at www.retropolitan.co.uk or at The Old Cinema

Antonia Graham, co-founder of furniture and interiors emporium, Graham & Green, has always been surrounded by beautiful objects. Her mother was an artist, whilst her grandmother,  who lived in Cairo between the wars, and was part of the smart social set, had an eye for interior design and a knack for doing up houses.  Glamorous and beautifully dressed, she always wore fabulous jewellery, which made a vivid impression on the young Antonia.  Inspired by these early memories, and having handed the running of Graham & Green over to son Jamie, Antonia now has her own collection of contemporary Indian jewellery  which she sells privately and to selected shops.   Luckily for denizens of W4, a large selection of Antonia’s beautiful pieces can be found at The Old Cinema, where a surprisingly reasonable sum will buy a pair of square-cut, ruby  drop earrings, or a pretty peridot ring.




Pieces are mainly contemporary although antique or vintage pieces may also be discovered amongst the shelves of treasure.  Made mainly in India, and hand-finished by a team of craftsmen,  the collection includes gold-plated  necklaces, earrings and bracelets, studded and hung with twinkling semi-precious stones from all around the world. Pale, blue-grey Labradorite, rose quartz,  amethysts, garnets,  carnelians and rubies; are mounted in gold-plated silver and create an exquisite array of colour.  Pieces are surprisingly affordable; as Antonia says, these stones, despite their decorative appeal,  are often less expensive than people might expect.




Antonia works closely with her artistic team and sometimes designs her own pieces which she enjoys doing; “I like the different colours of the stones and  putting them together in unusual combinations”, Antonia says. She has, in  general,  a particular interest in the creative and mechanical process of how items are made and assembled and how different talents and disciplines can be combined to create beautiful and unique pieces; whether they be furniture, textiles, homewares or jewellery. 



Behind Antonia’s mild, quietly-spoken manner, lies a steely determination to succeed. This, and a natural creative flair were to stand her in good stead, as she often found herself battling against the odds.   Antonia’s  career began working as a translator for cookery writer Elizabeth David, who ran a business selling French crockery and cookware.  David was a exacting employer, but Antonia proved herself to be both resourceful and capable and was soon handling much of the running of the business herself - sourcing culinary items from around the world, arranging deliveries,  and drawing up supplier agreements; skills she was later to find immensely useful.



After some years running  a business selling Mediterranean homeware to the trade, Antonia and her friend, Henrietta Green, founded Graham & Green in the mid-1970’s. Despite the problems  women in the 70s faced trying to launch a business - including landlords  and banks who would only talk to men - determination and perseverance won through.  The pair acquired a shop in Notting Hill and began selling kitchenware and crockery to smart West Londoners.  The business expanded, and a second shop opened opposite; specialising in bathroom and bedroom furnishings imported from India. A select range of luxury clothing followed, and the Graham & Green brand, of affordable exoticism became a great success.
Antonia still enjoys regular trips to India where she has a beautiful house in Goa, but her time is her own and she isn’t missing the pace of running a large successful business. It doesn’t stop her from being busy and making plans; “I always thought that once I had more time I might learn to make my own jewellery” she says. And one gets the impression that once Antonia has an idea to do something, it won’t be too long before she does it.






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