Have you ever wondered what City lawyers, bankers and TV journalists do in their lunch hour? Well, it seems more often than not, they are to be found perusing once sunken treasure as well as other ancient artefacts such as the captivating turquoise hues of 12th Century Persian ceramics. These carefully curated treasures are to be found amongst the antique vessels and furniture that make up Hilary Fisher’s antique shop in Gray’s Inn Road, Fisher London.
It is maybe no great surprise that professionals who spend their working lives with the stories of others might also be drawn to the extraordinary decorative stories and historical events that an antique represents?
Antiques inform the catwalk
It isn’t just these professionals though who make up Hilary’s clientele. Architects and fashion designers have been inspired to become collectors too. Fashion designers such as Jonathan Anderson (J W Anderson) who is creative director for Loewe has become a collector of Fisher London’s Regency glass.
Jonathan often uses antiques to display his fashion collections. A current Loewe collection is inspired by the work of 20th Century Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Macintosh. I love how Macintosh’s designs, particularly the use and scale of pattern on the men’s shirt, have been interpreted.
Hilary says that the simplicity of Georgian glass always sells but she has noticed that the more highly decorated and faceted Regency glass (1811 – 1820) is starting to become more popular. “The reason it was this faceted was simply to reflect candle light as brightly as possible. We got to test it recently when we had a power cut in the shop and it really did glow in quite a magical way.”
Pentreath & Hall
Hilary, had a pop-up at the Pentreath & Hall shop in Bloomsbury before she opened her own. “The pop-up next to Pentreath & Hall came about because I live nearby and saw they were advertising for tenants. I initially took it for a month but it worked beautifully and I stayed for seven. I built up a lovely, loyal clientele and it gave me the confidence to take larger premises of my own.”
Location, location, location
Traditionally, antique shops in London have clustered together in places like Portobello, Lillie Road and Bermondsey. However, Hilary has rather cleverly chosen an area where her shop stands out and has become a go-to destination. On Gray’s Inn Road, not far from Holborn Tube, it is easily reached from the City in the East to Lincoln’s Inn Fields in the South and the new regenerated area of Kings Cross just a tad to the North.
It is a very atmospheric area (plenty of historic architecture – Sir John Soane’s Museum is not far away) bordered by the hubs of several professional organisations but is also an area where people live. Testament to this is a rather wonderful old-fashioned ironmongers right next door to Fisher London.
Inviting shop colours
One thing you notice at night, or when the light goes early on winter afternoons, is just how inviting the shop looks from the outside. The textural colour palette of exposed brick with Hilary’s signature spicy orange and Farrow & Ball’s Oval Room blue works well with the antiques.
Affordable antique chic
Business is good, and why wouldn’t it be when items cost anything from £20 for an engraved silver spoon to no more than £2,000? I was slightly taken aback too to realise that I could have bought a small Ming Dynasty pot for less than the price of my day return rail fare from Reading to London (around 50 squid)! Compare that to retail prices for contemporary furniture and accessories on the high street and it doesn’t take a banker to realise that buying antique is not only chic but is financially rather smart too.
Small space living ideas
Hilary sells furniture that works as well in small spaces as it does for larger homes. Georgian tables are particularly flexible as they often have flaps that allow them to fold down.
A slice of Georgian London
There is something so special about design from the Georgian era, I find myself very drawn to it. It is something about the symmetry, simplicity of line, classically inspired architecture and fashion that I find so appealing.
This evocative watercolour of a Georgian ‘dandy’ is £140, incredible for an original piece of art which is over 200 years old, but even more so as it is paired with a 19th century painting! They would make a cute pair in a gentleman’s dressing room or powder room gallery wall.
Hilary says that Japanese porcelain is becoming as popular as Chinese. The bowl in the centre of this table is Meiji period (c 1880), £220. Since I saw it, it has sold but Hilary has a healthy stock of 17th – 19th Century Japanese ceramics. Glass is always popular and silver is becoming more so. I had my eye on (the getting rarer) complete sets of Georgian champagne glasses in one of the cabinets!
Instagram has been a bit of a gamechanger for Fisher London and connects the shop with buyers from all round the world – especially in America. Like me, they probably enjoy Hilary’s sense of humour as much as the quality of her stock!
For previous blog posts on antiques you might like to take a look at Styling with Antiques, Creating Chalet Chic With Bobbin Furniture, What’s The Secret of Howe’s Interior Design Recipe?, Arts & Crafts, and Best in Show at The House & Garden Art and Antiques Fair.
Interior design with antiques
I have often styled room sets with antiques for magazines and newspaper supplements. I believe that a room isn’t complete without the addition of at least one antique piece – they work especially well with very contemporary or pared back spaces. It also goes without saying that recycling furniture from the past is good for the environment too.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you have enjoyed the visit as much as I did? It wasn’t just because of the very civilised glass of sherry Hilary offered me (ever so stylishly poured from an antique serving bottle) – promise! Charis x
15 thoughts on “Affordable antique chic”
Interesting and inspiring as aways Charis, thank you! Particularly love the picture of the V & A Georgian silk slippers, just divine! Best wishes Natalie x
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Lovely to hear from you Natalie, I am so glad you enjoyed the blog. I would highly recommend a visit to Fisher London if you are ever in the area. Oh yes, the V&A (and also The Fashion Museum in Bath) have some as you say divine specimens! With best wishes, Charis x
Looks lovely. Must visit!
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There are some beautiful things Rachel and I think you would love meeting Hilary too.
Haha – and there I am having rows with No1 son over decluttering our house (he has a point) and getting rid of my great grandmother’s beautiful writing desk and that there is no point in bringing back my great grandfather’s beautifully inlaid card table either. Your blog has fortified me Charis! If only I’d read it earlier in the week I would probably have turned the other cheek! Will definitely visit Fisher London on my next trip to the British Museum. Xx
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I think No 1 Son needs to read this blog!! My mind is racing at the thought of the beautifully inlaid card table and the writing desk! So glad that perhaps the blog has been in some small way instrumental in saving a bit of Son No1’s heritage. He will thank you for it in the future! Xx
Thanks for sharing this treasure trove with us Charis. I’ll have to pop in…
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My absolute pleasure Karen.