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Shop Spotlight – Anecdotes Designs

I’ve know and worked with Steve and Barbara for about 3 years. They are such a fantastic couple and it’s always such a pleasure to see them when they pop up to London. Here is a Q&A to get to know more about them and their unique shop in Folkestone

Hi Barbara, ell us about Anecdotes design, the ethos behind the brand and about the work you and Steven do.

Anecdotes Design is about Made, not mass produced and the stories behind the products we sell. Our main products are the leather bags made by Steven Harkin and the Mid Century Modern furniture he contemporizes. We both have in common an eye for colour and taste for simple lines.

That’s also what we look for in the other products we sell to complement our own. Most are designed and made in Britain. Two exceptions: Petra Meiren jewellery – she is a really good friend of ours from Germany, also a fan of Steven Harkin bags – and Thierry Bataille Chopper Lights – a Belgian designer I found via Maison & Objet when we reopened our shop in April. Being Belgian, I wanted some nice design from my country.I called the shop Anecdotes because we like to engage with our customers and tell the stories of a product or designer. I’d love to tell those stories on our online shop too but haven’t had time to do that yet. It will happen…

Tell us about yours and Steven’s design and retail backgrounds

Steven Harkin dropped out of Art School in Australia at 20. He started making handbags when he was working in a power station in Sydney. A friend gave him a book about Leathercraft and he bought some leather and needles. After a few years he became “the Bag Man”, making one-off quirky and witty leather bags and hats. He also tried fashion clothes (leather was big in the eighties) and won a National Award for his collection. He then got a job at Canberra University of the Arts,and won an award which lead to 3 years in Italy (where we met) selling bags to the Italians, then a job as Senior Lecturer at London College of Fashion.

We launched the Steven Harkin leather bags brand in 2006 at fashion trade shows. At some point the bags were being sold in over 50 outlets through the UK and abroad.

I had never worked in design until I met Steve, my passion were languages and travel. I’ve lived in the Netherlands, in Madrid and in Italy (20 years). My experience in retail goes far back: my mother opened a Second Hand Clothes shop in Brussels in the Seventies. I used to help as a student. At 20 I went to Rome and worked in a very cool clothes shop on the famous Piazza di Spagna. I have worked as an interpreter at trade shows in Brussels and Paris, mainly with Italian fashion designers.

Do you enjoy living and working in Folkestone? Tell us a bit about your area

Living in Folkestone means we can go for a walk along the beach in the morning and/or after work. We live and work in the Creative Quarter, which is really stimulating. There is always an exhibition opening somewhere. We are surrounded by creative people – artists and businesses. We are part of a town that is being regenerated through the Arts. It’s really exciting, especially this month and the next one, with the third edition of the Folkestone Triennial. Folkestone is really the next big thing in the Arts. It’s like living in a permanent open air exhibition. The whole town is a contemporary art gallery. How cool is that!

What is your favourite design blog or magazine?

I like Livingetc

What are your plans for the future?

We are planning to get more involved in interior design locally, with a creative estate agent. It would be great to open a shop in London in a few years time. We’ll see