Earlier this week on my way back from the Heals Modern Craft Market, I walked down the busy main drag of Tottenham Court Road with my eyes darting all about the place as usual – trying to drink in the ever-changing landscape of retail on that side of town.
Tottenham Court Road has never quite been sure what it wants to be – a busy major London thoroughfare its history is a mishmash of iconic theatres, music venues, the hub for large design stores, chain and unique eateries and the ubiquitous phone and souvenir shop – so in that way it has become the go to place for everything and nothing…
Anyway i was thinking about how I quite wanted to pick up a travel book for my holidays to read on the journey home and like a mirage as I blinked into the sun – I spotted what looked like an enormous Waterstones on the other side of the street. Given the sad flurry of bookstore and music retailer closures in the last few years it was a heart-warming surprise to see this new three-story bookshop.
Many of you might be aware that in 2011 Waterstones, on the brink of closure, handed over directorship of its stores for a radical re-think to James Daunt – the owner of the charming chain of independent style London bookstores Daunt Books.
Daunt began to put a lot changes in place one of which was to create Waterstones stores more individual in aesthetic and experience. The new Tottenham Court Road store which opened in November 2015 is large and airy with industrial style furnishings, bare warehouse walls and homely vases of greenery welcoming you in. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the basement stairs led me into a study area with a ceiling adorned in festoon lights and a bar (open till 11pm every day apart from Sunday)!
With hand-drawn fonts and colourful signage it felt very fresh and Urban Outfitters and I guess appealing to the heavy population of students in the area. Theres also a very well curated collection of gifting items, stationery, toys and gift items.
If you are in the area and in the need of a breather – look no further than this bookish beacon of hope that all might still be well with the world.
Have you seen any other re-designed Waterstones popping up around the UK?
19-, 20-21 Tottenham Court Rd
London W1T 1BJ
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org