London is home to the world’s greatest concentration of shops, museums and galleries. It may not be possible to visit them in person at the moment but their on-line shops allow us to browse through all of the galleries’ and museums’ wonderful products and even indulge in a little long-distance retail therapy. Blue Badge Guide Dan Bidewell picks out some of the best buys in our favourite London museums and galleries.
The National Gallery is the national collection of Western art from the thirteenth through to the twentieth century. The collection of over two thousand paintings takes in every major artist and artistic movement across that eight hundred-year time frame. The online shop
also has a range of beautiful objects for art connoisseurs or people like me, who just like pretty pictures.
You can order a deckchair for £120, the canvas of which is printed with Van Gogh’s Wheatfield. If you don’t like Van Gogh then they have Constable, da Vinci or Monet, in fact, a whole collection of different artists’ works. How much prettier would this look in the garden than boring old red and white stripes like a tube of toothpaste?
可愛い (Kawaii) means loveable or cute. This £8.99 book teaches you how to draw anything and everything in this instantly recognisable Japanese pop culture style. The National Gallery also stocks a full range of artists’ biographies and academic works on techniques, art history and interpretation as well as other gift ideas such as scarves, wrapping paper and bags. If you are looking for a gift for an art lover, then look no further than the National Gallery online shop.
The design museum has been showcasing industrial, graphic, fashion and product design to Londoners for over thirty years now. The online shop has a range of products searchable by price, material, colour, designer, brand and even which room of the house in which to pop it – from mugs, vases, lunchboxes, flannels, chairs and shoe-shaped cement plant pots.
It is never too young to get kids learning the difference between Brutalist and Weetabix, Palladian and Pinocchio. ‘Architecture for Babies’ (£5.99) is a wonderful little book introducing the built environment to tiny minds. Do you think Richard Rogers’ mum just let him read ‘Roger Red Hat’, ‘Meg & Mog’ or ‘Green Eggs and Ham’? No, she had him on books like this as soon as his eyes could focus! That’s why he is an award-winning architect today.
What could be more London than a bowler hat? Inspired by the work of Belgian surrealist René Magritte the Design Museum on-line shop has these fantastic 56 cm high Jeeves Bowler Hat table lamps. Why not give your desk a touch of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ feel to it for £295?
Perhaps no other city has an identity that is so tied into its public transport. A red circle with a blue line through it, the black taxis, the patented typeface used on the tube, red double-decker buses; they immediately tell us ‘London’ without saying a word. Buy some of that design history for yourself from the London Transport Museum’s on-line shop.
Choo, choo! So, who does NOT want to own their very own vitreous enamel genuine tube sign from Liverpool Street station? Almost seventy million people walked past this sign last year alone and now you can walk past it in your own home as many times as you like for just £2500. If you walked past it just seventy million times and paid yourself a penny each time you did so, then frankly the thing would pay for itself in no time. It’s a no brainer.
London Underground is very proud of the fact that all of its seating is upholstered and deep down, so is every Londoner. Buried in the bottom of our hearts there is a special fondness for the indestructible carpet-like moquette that cushions our bottoms on our tired commutes home, that brushes our legs on our trips to see friends, that cradles our backs after a night out on the town. This little handbag might look cute but that moquette is built to last, so at £55 it’s basically an investment you deserve.
The Royal Collection is the charitable foundation that manages Her Majesty’s art collection, the largest private art collection in the world. Paintings, sculptures, clocks, dinner services, tapestries and carpets from the collection grace Her Majesty’s homes, the public areas of the royal palaces and are also lent out to museums across the country. As well as this they manage the public admission to the Queen’s two main residences, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The on-line shop has quite an addictive offering; teacups, jams, slippers, aprons, cushions, earrings and biscuits, the best part of which is that once you have eaten them you still have the beautiful biscuit tin to keep afterwards. Her Majesty does possess one of the largest and most impressive collections of jewellery in the world and whilst no-one can compete, we can dream and we can try!
The Buckingham Palace Crystal Arch Tiara sets sparkling diamonds in a white gold- plated metal base. £95 to feel like a queen. If you wear it every day for a year that’s just twenty-six pence a day. You are worth it!
Coffee! Coffee with breakfast, coffee before lunch, coffee with lunch, coffee after lunch, coffee in the afternoon, coffee in the evening, coffee in the bath, coffee on the go, coffee with friends, coffee with a book, coffee on the ‘phone, coffee in the garden! Now, wouldn’t that coffee be oh-so-much more special if it were served from a blush pink Imperial Russian Coffee pot? Yes – it would! Don’t argue with me! These are made in Stoke-on-Trent, the cradle of the English porcelain industry, following a two-hundred-year-old technique and are then hand-finished in 22-carat gold, so actually, the £225 price tag is pretty reasonable.