Shop spotlight on Native and Co (Native & Co). This Notting Hill located store sells an extensive selection of artisan made Taiwanese and Japanese homewares. The pieces combine traditional craft with contemporary design to produce delicate and desirable objects for the home. You’ll find a relaxed and calm mix of home accessories, kitchenware, tableware, glassware, stationery and a few fashion items. You can pick up a cedar cypress bentwood bento box, hemp palm table brush, copper kettle, coconut bath mat and linen waffle towels. This venture was started by two art graduates on a mission to showcase and promote Japanese and Taiwanese design. I caught up with the owners to find out more about the homeware shop Native and Co.
Taiwanese and Japanese Products
Meet the Native and Co Owners
This business is jointly owned by the two co-founders who are Sharon Jo-Yun Hung and Chris Yoshiro Green. Sharon explains how they met – “It was while studying our foundation degrees at Chelsea College of Art. By chance, we continued together at Central Saint Martins for Product Design. During our studies, we both had the feeling that we wanted to be part of a creative start-up, but we just never realised that we would end up forming that start-up together.”
Sharon Jo-Yun Hung and Chris Yoshiro Green
The official launch of the business was at Design Junction in 2014 during the London Design Festival. They both started working full-time on the venture straight after leaving Central Saint Martins. Chris explains their product focus – “I’m Japanese-British, and Sharon is Taiwanese. We felt that Japanese craft products were either restricted in intimidating specialist shops or spread thinly across many retail brands. Taiwanese products were also either poorly represented or not represented at all. We felt there was an opportunity for an individual voice for both Japan and Taiwan under one aesthetic. This led on to one of our core values, that we help to promote Taiwan and the makers that we work with. We feel it’s both our ambition and responsibility to help evolve Taiwan’s design image.”
Their proposition is unique, “we are the only shop in the UK that specialises both in Japanese and Taiwanese products. In London, we are also the only shop where you can get the majority and complete range of our Japanese contemporary homeware. This homeware is otherwise only available online from Japan and America. A portion of our customers knows these Japanese pieces well, as they have researched them online but were looking for a local shop to pick them in person.”
Taiwanese and Japanese Products
They explain how they decided on the shop and business name, “we wanted something which encompassed our values of simple and primal forms with honest and pure materials. We didn’t want an obvious poetic Japanese name. We believe it is important for us to be a London based shop first rather than a Japanese shop that happens to be in London. It is essential for us to be both approachable and relatable without being intimidatingly exotic. This eventually led us to the name of Native and Co.”
See Inside the Native and Co Shop
The shop is located at Kensington Park Road, which is in Notting Hill, West London. They explain why they settled on this area, “we decided on Notting Hill because of the great support for independent shops. Customers are often residents during the week, and at the weekend it’s tourists visiting the area plus a few younger customers commuting from other parts of London. A large portion of our customers are from creative backgrounds and are often architects or interior stylists.”
A physical store was important, they explain “we didn’t start as an online business, we always had the picture of it being a physical shop first because we wanted to provide an experience. We enjoy engaging with customers about how our products are made and traditionally used. Having the opportunity to personally source individual products and curating them into a meaningful collection is a joy. It is also a unique experience for us as product designers to get direct feedback from customers about the items. Besides, the objects are so delicate and subtle that they are best appreciated and observed in person.”
The store is contained on one floor with a clean and light interior. Sharon explains, “the interior is designed to suit the products we display, but in many ways, the interior design is inspired by our products, which are subtle and simple. We used a combination of solid maple, walnut, birch ply and soft colour tones of light grey and white to complement different sections of the shop. We have two main areas of products on each side of the shop, with a table in the middle of the room with that season’s speciality.” The merchandising is minimal but not too stark. Sharon tells me – “We have made sure that space isn’t like an intimidating gallery. The objects are displayed on solid maple furniture which we designed ourselves, and these are now sold in the store.”
In terms of the shopping experience in-store, it’s all about letting the customer dictate the flow, Chris explains – “We have a strong belief that you should not ‘sell’ products to customers. We let them instead browse and if asked, we will have a conversation for as long as they wish about different products. We want the shop to be a relaxing but also informative experience, where you leave with beautiful objects and the knowledge of how it was made and why that matters to you.”
Native and Co Collection
The collection comprises of Japanese and Taiwanese craft-based homeware which are made by discreet and anonymous designer-makers. They explain, “most of our pieces are a combination of traditional craft with a contemporary but simple design. Teapots, kettles, porcelain and cast iron kitchenware, wooden tableware, hand-bound brooms and linen tea towels are our foundation.” To give you an idea of the offering, Sharon and Chris have selected five items to share with you. These are all available to buy online but do visit the shop to observe their beauty in person.
Nambu Cast Iron Kettle £250 / Japanese Copper Grater £36 / Japanese Wooden Bath Bowl £85 / Traditional Canvas School Bag £40 / Japanese Palm Broom with Handle £125
Buy Native and Co Products
If you’re not located in London, you can shop online at Native, and Co. Do visit the store in person if you can which you’ll find at 116 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, W11 2PW London. The opening hours are Monday to Saturday 11 am until 6.30 pm and closed on Sundays but do check on the website before your visit.
To give you an idea about price points, they have two ranges, and the first is more accessible with products retailing £14-36 for brushes, soaps, tea towels and ceramics. The mid-priced range is between £36-95 for brass plates, wooden mugs, copper graters and hand-bounded Japanese brooms. The high-end range products are £95-£300, for example, a copper kettle is £220 and an earthenware jug handmade in Kyoto is £265. They can ship the products anywhere in the world. Sharon and Chris are working on their range of homeware for the shop by collaborating with their traditional makers, so keep an eye out for their collection.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: N and C. Thanks: Sharon Jo-Yun Hung, Chris Yoshiro Green and Jo Matthews.