Shops We Love: twentytwentyone

This London institution for furniture and modern design travels from vintage to modern in 10 striking pieces. Here, twentytwentyone co-founder Simon Alderson talks us through the wares.


Twentytwentyone in London

“It’s hard to point to a single trait, since we look at both aesthetics and functionality, but we look for pieces with their own personality and story,” says co-founder Simon Alderson.

Founders: Simon Alderson and Tony Cunningham

Hiroshima Armchair: Designed by Naoto Fukasawa, manufactured by Maruni

“It’s really a chair that you have to see and sit in," says co-founder Simon Alderson. "It’s beautifully detailed and destined to become a classic, since it’s rare to find craftsmanship with such quality and detailing. Maruni, a big Japanese furniture maker, has really only focused on this kind of contemporary piece over the last four or five years.”

Opening Date: 1996

Black Leaf Tea Towel: Designed by Lucienne Day, manufactured by twentytwentyone

“It’s a historical classic with strong graphic design, reminiscent of something by Alexander Girard. It’s a fantastic work by a British designer made with Irish linen.”

Addresses: The main store is at 274/275 Upper Street, in Islington, London, while the showroom and offices are at 18C River Street, in the business district.

Vintage Alvar Aalto Table Model 91

“I thought it would be interesting to include a piece of vintage furniture, since that’s where we got our start. It’s a bold and big table for such a restrained designer, with chunky legs and decorative veneer. It’s big for 1930’s standards, and still has labels and stickers on the bottom, including one from Harvey Nichols, the original importer.”

Phone: +44 (0) 207 288 1996

Pivo Bottle Opener: Designed and manufactured by Luke Smith-Wightman

“This solid brass opener is the first piece by the young designer, and it’s a great example of simple execution. It’s complex but doesn’t look it. He approached us, and it’s a chance relationship that worked positively.”

Follow On:

Imbroglio Desk Calendar, designed by Jean-Pierre Vitrac and manufactured by twentytwentyone

“Vitrac isn’t a name designer, but the Frenchman did everything. This is a piece that we actually make ourselves. When you drag the magnet around the screenprinted front, you can highlight the dates. It continues to intrigue and amuse, whilst being a functional calendar.”

Shanagarry Sauceboat: Designed by Philip Pearce, manufactured by Stephen Pierce

“This is a piece from a small, family-run Irish company started in the ‘40s near Cork. They do pottery the authentic way—the clay is dug locally and all processes undertaken by hand—and they do a range of jugs, cups and bowls.”

Robin Day Reclining Chair: Manufactured by twentytwentyone

“We worked with Day before he died, and produced furniture together. This is a midcentury classic; such a big, generous chair with a strong personality, with big wooden armrests perfect for a book or a drink, or now, a iPad or remote control. This was one of his favorite pieces, and really expressed his philosophy of comfort first.”

Sado Trivet: Manufactured by Apartment Japan

“We sourced these through a colleague in Japan. They’re handmade and come from an island off Japan’s west coast. They’re so simple and beautifully made, with that small loop you can use to hang on the wall, you can’t improve on them.”

What’s It All About:Simon Alderson and Tony Cunningham were both selling vintage pieces in Camden Market before teaming up and opening their own store in West London to sell (as the name suggests) the best of 20th and 21st century design. Twentytwentyone has since expanded, selling an array of contemporary and vintage furniture and accessories, producing its own pieces (including furniture by British designer Robin Day) and doing contract work for clients such as the Soho House Hotels.

Perpignan & Toulouse: Designed by Jasper Morrison, manufactured by Marsotto

“These marble tables are indicative of the careful way that he designs. There’s a finesse that gives the furniture a personality without shouting. With so many of his decisions, you feel confident he will withstand the test of time. There’s a timeless quality, a solidity to the material. They’re just lovely things you want to run your hands around.”

PP 501, “The Chair”: Designed by Hans Wegner, manufactured by PP Mobler

“I mean, it’s other name is ‘the chair.’ It’s really the simplest manifestation of a timber armchair. It’s simplicity reveals its true beauty. It can’t be made cheaply. It takes time to make something like this.”

Philosophy: "It’s hard to point to a single trait, since we look at both aesthetics and functionality, but we look for pieces with their own personality and story," says co-founder Simon Alderson. "We carry classics from the 20th century, and when we look at contemporary pieces, we want to feel that it’s going to be a classic someday."

View our slideshow to see some of the store’s favorite pieces.


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