the school of life shop produces life enhancing unique gifts

The School of Life shop produces life enhancing unique gifts

Shop spotlight on The School of Life. This extraordinary enterprise is all about good ideas for everyday life. They sell a selection of unique gifts which are beautiful and thoughtful. These might be stationery notepads with quotes from great thinkers, inspirational books dealing with everyday dilemmas or luxury scented candles designed to evoke a perfect world. The School of Life aims to answer questions that traditional education evades – real life, how to choose our partners or how to find fulfilling work, the questions that Google can’t help you with! Aside from their unusual gifts, they also provide classes, lectures and therapy. I caught up with the Director to find out more.

the school of life unique gifts

Unique Gifts

The School of Life Experts

The School of Life was founded in 2008 by philosopher Alain de Botton and several other colleagues from the arts, education and cultural sectors. Morgwn Rimel has been the Director of The School of Life since 2009. Morgwn explains how this unique offering came about, “the School was born out of frustration with conventional education. We’re taught to answer questions about the periodic table, capital cities, and Shakespeare – but we’re given very little guidance on the big questions of real life: how to choose our partners, find fulfilling work, and change the world. The School aims to answer these questions. We believe in the value of learning from the great thinkers of the past – from philosophy, psychology and the arts – but we think that their ideas offer practical lessons we can apply to our everyday lives.”

the school of life morgwn rimel

Morgwn Rimel

Morgwn explains the setup, “we have a small team running our programmes and developing the products. There’s a large faculty of experts who lead our classes and events. They range from writers to artists, philosophers to psychologists – each with fascinating and unique life experience which they bring to bear on the big questions we strive to answer. Our talented team are here to enhance people’s lives. We’ve had customers launch businesses, move abroad, save their relationships, or find a greater sense of calm.”

The School of Life Shop

The shop was opened in 2008 in Bloomsbury. This location is ideal; as Morgwn explains, “everything we do is grounded in the wisdom of philosophy and the humanities. Bloomsbury has an amazing heritage as the home of writers, thinkers, philosophers and artists. It remains a hub for knowledge and ideas; we are close to the British Museum, British Library, Wellcome Collection and many universities. Marchmont Street itself offers an escape from the chain stores and traffic of King’s Cross; it’s a lovely street, full of independent shops and cafes.”

the school of life shop exterior

Shop Exterior

The shop selling products is on the ground floor with classroom and therapy rooms below. Morgwn elaborates, “the shop is a central part of what we do. Because our concept is unique, it’s important to have a place for the curious to come and explore, chat with our staff about our ethos and understand the stories behind our products. It’s designed to be an apothecary for the mind, so it is furnished with tools and experiences to help you live wisely and well. The interior design is crisp and modern, with neutral tones to make our bright products pop. Birch trees form natural pillars and soften the lines of the space, and we always have fresh flowers. We leave lots of space to let our products shine.”

the school of life shop interior

Shop Interior

They offer classes, talks and therapy downstairs, which are designed to help you in each aspect of your life: work, love, self, home, community, meaning and culture. Morgwn tells me, “we’ve had over 70,000 students visiting us for classes and therapy. Our customers range from creative professionals to students from nearby universities to tourists who have popped over on the Eurostar and happened upon the shop. They tend to be thoughtful, inquisitive types. There’s a great sense of community at the School: it’s a great place to meet interesting people.”

The School of Life Collection

If you cannot visit their fantastic shop come classroom, don’t worry because you can always browse online. The comprehensive website accounts for around 60% of their sales. You’ll find an exciting selection of products you might want to buy for yourself or a friend.  Morgwn comments, “big ideas don’t have to be conveyed in boring ways, so we make our products and experiences witty and beautiful and fun as well as useful.”  To give you an idea of their product offering, Morgwn has selected five items for you to ‘think’ about.

the school of life career quesitons

100 Questions: A Toolkit for Careers – This kit contains carefully composed questions to help you start a conversation with yourself about yourself and your working life – £20

the school of life pencil set

Psychology of Colour Pencil Set – This is designed to teach us how a shade of colour can link us to a memory or feeling – £18

the school of life tote bag

Emotional Baggage – A glamourous tote navy blue bag which shows us to carry our emotional baggage well – £35

the school of life transitional object

Transitional Object – This object has been named Donald. It’s been designed by Donna Wilson and is a source of comfort for adults. It’s something reliable to hold on to when we need to let ourselves be dependent and insecure – £60

the school of life imperfection pot

Imperfection Pot – This has been inspired by the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi. It finds beauty in imperfect and overlooked places. It has deliberate flaws, which are part of its charm. This piece has been designed by Adam Buick, a ceramic artist based in west Wales – £50

Buy The School of Life Products

If you want to visit the London shop go to 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB. The opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 am until 6 pm. They have also opened Schools in Paris, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Melbourne, Istanbul and Belgrade. To find out more about the classes, shop and buy the products, go to The School of Life Shop. To give you an idea about product prices – stationery and cards £12-20, art and collectables £20-50, home and garden products £20-525, clothing and accessories £35-150, how-to guides £7.99 and toolkit for life – £60. They can ship the products worldwide. You can buy vouchers and tickets for the classes and events. They also offer the EQ Certificate Programme – a chance to spend a year with them studying life’s big questions.

Author: Homegirl London. Photography: TSOL. Thanks: Morgwn Rimel and David Gorrod.