Indie of the Week #21: Aram Store

All photos by Paul Raeside

All photos by Paul Raeside

It’s a biggie this week: Aram Store - the original independent design store. It's owned and run by the Aram family, and has been for the past 49 years. Founded by Zeev Aram, it was the radical home of shiny, sharp, modern design when it first opened on the King's Road in 1964 - a few months before Habitat. People didn't really know what to make of it. But we've all caught up with this 'futuristic' vision of furniture now and the existence of this shop is in part why.
Aram Store holds the global licence for Eileen Gray designs (E1027 table, Bibendum chair) because it was Zeev who approached her, when she was in her nineties, rescued her designs from near obscurity and put them into production. Gray is considered one of the central figures in the history of 20th century furniture design.
Zeev and his daughter Ruth's continued enthusiasm for the new is evident in the shop's current Covent Garden location where they host regular exhibitions. This cavernous four-storey warehouse on Drury Lane is a must-visit for design fans seeking inspiration and a gawp at the most comprehensive collection of modern furniture around. Standards (and prices) are high, but this is an indie - albeit a big established one - and as such is rightfully celebrated here. 
Who are you? Ruth Aram, of Aram Store
Where can we find you? 110 Drury Lane, London WC2; www.aram.co.uk
Describe your store in five words: Huge, inspirational, welcoming, carefully curated, ever changing.
What makes you different? Every top end furniture brand wants to be represented in our store because throughout our fifty years we have upheld our core values: to offer the best quality modern design, manufacture and customer service.
How you decide what makes the cut? We have many criteria on which to judge product under consideration such as originality of design, functionality, reliability, value for money, sustainability…the list goes on. On top of that is good old fashioned gut instinct.  
What were you doing before you did this? I was a newly qualified landscape architect.
If you were starting again what advice would you give yourself? Great product is not enough – you also need effective marketing and a good location.
What are you most proud of? Customers want an enjoyable retail ‘experience’ when they visit and I have worked hard to create this whilst still respecting my father’s original vision.
Do you have a favourite thing in the store right now? My favourite thing is the Kaleido collection of trays for Hay.
What's hot for 2013? The Bell tables, launched to much acclaim by ClassiCon last year, have been updated using copper - and a range of pendant lights with interchangeable diffusers, by the same designer, has been added to the collection.
Every Wednesday 'Indie of the week' celebrates the best independent stores around. These places sell interesting and varied collections of design-related things you don't see everywhere else. They may support young or local designers or be great at finding unique things from around the world. By thinking a little more creatively about what they stock they are fighting the bland homogenisation of so much of the high street. And since I'm down with the realities of modern life, online only stores count too, because a beautiful and easy to use website is just as delightful an encounter in cyberspace.
Do you you have a favourite store?  I'd love to hear from you.