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In store at the Darkroom

Located in Bloomsbury, Darkroom is an independent boutique founded by Lulu Roper-Caldbeck and her friend Rhonda Drakeford. Global Blue met Roper-Caldbeck in the eclectic store to hear about the duo’s inspirations and their hands-on approach

Ximena Daneri
Ximena Daneri ,

‘My background is in fashion and Rhonda’s is in interiors and graphic design. We wanted to design our own ranges, and opening a shop seemed the perfect way to showcase them. From the outset we knew the store had to merge fashion and interiors and would be a combination of our own pieces alongside a carefully curated mix of items by other designers whose work we admire. Other stores at the time seemed very clean and minimal, focusing a lot on mid-century modern design. Our plan was to create something very different – something bolder, brighter and much more full-on – and we opened Darkroom five years ago.

‘We knew this area already and while there were a few shops here, it was relatively unknown and affordable, while being easily accessible to central London and full of character. The same landlords have owned the shops on the street for generations and have tried to ensure it remains an independent shopping destination.

‘We had a clear vision of how we wanted the space to look, but as we had a very limited budget, we designed the shop ourselves and got stuck in with all the messy work such as clearing the space, painting and laying floors.

‘It is ideal as it’s on a corner and has a large shop front and window where we can create different displays and installations. The shop floor has nothing permanent or built in – this flexibility is vital as it has given us the chance to continuously evolve within the space.

‘All of our own designs are exclusive to this store, as are many other items. We work closely with our suppliers and quite often commission pieces to fit in with the store. When selecting pieces to buy, we try to avoid the bigger trade shows but instead go to the smaller, more unusual ones. We also look online and in magazines, go to graduate shows and travel for inspiration.’

Darkroom, 52 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3LL, +44 (0)20 7831 7244, darkroomlondon.com



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