Beyond Pinterest: The best ways to ensure your lovely objects aren’t exactly the same as everyone else’s

Giles Kime asks whether the the ‘digital pop up’ the answer to the homogeneous home.

Mass manufacture has plenty of benefits, but it has also created the problem of ubiquity. A quick trawl through Right-move reveals that houses furnished at the same handful of modish retailers look pretty much identical.

It’s a fair bet that a search of swish apartments in London W11 will turn up its fair share of Minotti sofas, Union Jack cushions and a few ‘ironic’ flokati rugs; in SW11, it’s likely to be Smooch love seats from Loaf and more Oliver Bonas fringed lampshades than you can shake a stick at.

Nels Crosthwaite Eyre

’Twas ever thus, you could argue, except it wasn’t. Not really. Even in the early days of Habitat and Laura Ashley, it was rare to see room sets slavishly reproduced in people’s houses. Financial constraints meant that antique furniture was stripped or painted (long before the term ‘upcycling’ was coined), which ensured few houses looked the same.

Forty years later, the creeping power of Instagram and Pinterest has created a strange form of conformity, a sense that the must-have lampstand or pen pot will provide entry to the hallowed world created by that mysterious breed known as ‘influencers’.

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‘When they’re gone, they’re gone’

The answer to the problem of homogeneity lies in antique shops, craft fairs and galleries. It’s rather magical to spot something you love at 50 paces; a ceramic jug, painting or lamp that is probably unique, because it is old or made by the human hand. Better still is the feeling of being so passionate about an object that you can’t leave without buying it.

Another antidote is the pop-up store, which is transforming how we shop. In the way that the disappearance of the grocer precipitated the growth of the farmer’s market, the pop up is a direct result of the demise of the quirky, independent retailer.

Nels Crosthwaite Eyre

A good example was a pop up by Nels Crosthwaite Eyre earlier this year, which offered her eclectic mix of one-off furniture, lighting and accessories in the village of Up Somborne in Hampshire.

For her, the concept also works online; her pop-up website offers one-off pieces that you won’t see elsewhere, some new, some old, all charming and distinctive. As she says,  ‘when they’re gone, they’re gone’, but you can put in an order safe in the knowledge that you won’t see half a dozen examples of the same thing between now and Christmas.