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Pop-up shop offers a chic experience

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The 'pop' of positivity and 'can-do' attitude is almost audible when interior decorator Raj Tolaram and his childhood friend Andrea Dismont Trott are together — and now a 'pop-up shop' has emerged as the result of a collaboration between the two — 'popping up' only about six weeks after the deal was sealed.

Home & Wine, an emporium filled with everything from candelabras to tea cups, and from dining room tables to chalk boards — all in what the pair term French urban country chic, will open today at Somers Warehouse on Cemetery Road, Pembroke, for just four days — and then the doors will close.

“Raj has put an amazing show together in this loft-like space,” said Ms Dismont Trott. Mr Tolaram has used the unusually large expanse of space to create several 'scenes,' showing off the furniture, lighting fixtures and decorative items in a series of whimsical motifs, in a way that is difficult to achieve in the much smaller retail spaces that Hamilton offers. “Both of us are disappointed in the lack of visual experience there is in retail,” said Ms Dismont Trott. Mr Tolaram, acknowledging that while this business is 'difficult' in an online world, added the plus of a physical outlet is “it's very tactile — you can't get away from that.”

He added: “There's something at all price points here: little ceramic items, big furniture pieces.”

The experiential nature of the project will be enhanced with wine offered to shoppers, bottles of which can also be ordered from Bristol Cellar for pickup or delivery.

Although the pair's friendship goes back to their primary school years, they come from different professional backgrounds — the decorator explained he returned to Bermuda about a year ago having spent his career overseas, ultimately running his own business, Raj Tolaram Designs. Although Ms Dismont Trott did run a small gallery in St George's, for the most part her background is in the international business sector.

As a breast cancer survivor of one year, she said the Home & Wine project: “ ... is a 're-entry' after ending my treatment.” She found the array of items with which she has stocked the warehouse pop-up from around the world — travelling to Asia, Europe and North America to bring the collection together.

Although she claims that she is the more retiring of the two, it was she who initiated the concept. ”I had the idea and asked Raj if he would be interested, and he said 'absolutely.' “

He said: “I was raised in the business,” explaining his family owned and ran retail stores on Reid Street, Front Street and in St George's. The emporiums were treasure troves of home furnishings and clothing — much of it from India. Ultimately he opened and ran his own retail store called 12 Reid, which was located in the original family shop's premises, 'Jewel of the East' before leaving Bermuda to launch his career in decorating.

”I was born into retail,” said the exuberant designer. “My grandfather moved his business from India to Bermuda in the 1930s. My father met my mom here — who was the daughter of the legendary St David's islander War Baby Fox. East meets east — I'm a real east ender!” he quipped.

“I loved my design business but I really missed the texture of retail, the front of house — no two days are alike. There's a constant ability to change, move things around, put groups of products together.”

Ms Dismont Trott said: “Here, we wanted to create a fun environment. The whole point of it is, it's very welcoming.”

Home & Wine will be open from 10am to 6pm today through Saturday, when the doors will close.

Look for Home & Wine on Facebook.

Raj Tolaram
Stylish: An unusual item for sale at Somers Warehouse ‘pop up’ shop.
Timepiece: Somers Warehouse ‘pop up’ shop.
‘French urban country chic’: Some of the items for sale at Somers Warehouse ‘pop up’ shop.
‘French urban country chic’: Some of the items for sale at Somers Warehouse ‘pop up’ shop.
Candelabras at Somers Warehouse ‘pop up’ shop.
‘French urban country chic’: Some of the items for sale at Somers Warehouse ‘pop up’ shop.

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Published April 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm)

Pop-up shop offers a chic experience

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