....He’s clearly part of the fabric of the place and well-known to all the staff  here who accept his provocative banter with affectionate good humour.  Initially, he seems slightly perplexed about why I’d want to interview him,  but once I assure him it’s very general and I’ll only write nice things,  he warms up a bit and we sink into a pair of old leather Chesterfield sofas.
See our collection of Chesterfields.

Even as a boy, Jonathan could sniff out a deal and he and a school friend almost started a business selling fireplaces but couldn’t get the money together so Jonathan went into the City instead. He soon became bored so packed it in and went travelling in Spain.   When  he came back he began working in an antiques warehouse in Bermondsey, where he met and became friends with Martin Hanness (founder of The Old Cinema before opening an antiques mirror shop  in Greenwich - Minerva Antiques - which he still has. He admits he has a ‘thing’ about mirrors - particularly really large, grand ones.  “I might have up to 300 in stock at any one time” he explains.

See our collection of Gilt Mirrors.

Jonathan’s particular speciality is in creating a traditional country house look with all the comforts and trappings of the ancestral home.  He gestures at the Chesterfields we are sitting in: ‘These sell really well, you have to have the space for them,  but they  never go out of fashion, they are really hard-wearing  and they just get better and better with age.”  

See our collection of Leather Armchairs.

Apart from,  leather sofas and glass-fronted cabinets (displaying an intriguing collection of pharmacological ephemera), Jonathan has uncovered a demand for customising antique wardrobes.  Women, it appears, like the look of them, but not the musty smell they sometimes come with. Jonathan takes off the back and lines the interior with material to seal it and prevent dust getting in. This process, not only protects clothes, but immediately refreshes the interior, eliminating any whiff of previously owned  bobcoats and breeches.  Shelves and shoe racks can be built in and mirrors are hung inside the doors, bringing up-to-date functionality to a beautiful antique piece.

See our collection of Wardrobes.

Jonathan recognises the current British love of up-cycling and he gets great pleasure re-using timbers taken from broken wardrobes or chests  and turning them into something useful; often incorporating interesting features;  carved wooden panels and inlays, old lettering and signage, ironmongery, or coloured glass.  “The mood is green now.” he says: “ A lot of wood, for example, Cuban mahogany, is fantastic quality but you just can’t buy it any more; almost everything new is made from sustainable pine,  so it’s wonderful to be able to give it a new lease of life.”

See our collection of Upcycled Furniture.

As Jonathan says, everyone is different, and each sits somewhere within the spectrum of classic and quirky and most people like a mix of the two. Moods and fashions ebb and flow and what would have been unthinkable 20 years ago is now hot property - as can be seen by the current vogue for 1960’s and  1970’s interior style and furnishings.  And people have relaxed a little; “Not so long ago taxidermy was a complete taboo - but now you could have antique moose’s head on the wall and it wouldn’t really bother anyone” he says.  

See our collection of Retro Furniture.

As we finish our chat and say goodbye, Jonathan suddenly looks down in consternation at the trainers he has on:  "You won't mention these will you, I don't normally wear them?" he says anxiously, then, before I can reply, he grins and goes bounding off.

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.
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.

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.


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.

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.

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.
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.
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.

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.


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