I hadn’t heard of Nkuku until a friend of mine started working there. I was then invited to a special sale night where I was able to get a proper feel for the kind of products that Nkuku sells. I was really surprised to find that such an amazing company is based right here in Devon, not too far from where I live. At the time the headquarters was at Dartington, but in December 2015 the company opened the new Nkuku Lifestyle Store and Café in Harbertonford, just outside Totnes. The team at Nkuku, headed up by founders Alex and Alistair Cooke, stumbled across a beautiful courtyard of stone barns that were originally used for farming and to house cattle. The buildings had actually been derelict for twenty years so needed some work, but it was evident that the barns had the potential to be the perfect space to house Nkuku’s collection of homewares, gifts and accessories. Nearly two years after finding the barns, the transformation of the Nkuku Lifestyle Store is complete and the result is an absolutely breath-taking 3000 square meter space that has been sympathetically restored retaining many of the original features. I apologise now that this post is very image heavy but I really wanted to share the beauty of this space with you as well as some of the products that can be seen in the lifestyle store.
Walking in through the massive, heavy entry door, you are greeted by a large, open reception area that is clad with corrugated metal sheets, hinting at the building’s agricultural past. Exposed brick and enormous steel joists add an industrial touch to the building and a carved wooden horse peeks into the main display space which is literally full to the rafters with beautifully handmade home and lifestyle products.
The products come from around the world and Nkuku works with independent businesses, social projects and co-operatives to source the stock. They also adhere to the standard globally recognised 10 Principles Of Fair Trade to ensure an ethical and sustainable business relationship.
Eco-friendly processes are also a big part of how Nkuku operates and many of the products are handmade from recycled materials and waste materials that result from other industries such as cotton from discarded t-shirts, leather, metals and glass as well as recycled saris. Sustainability is also a goal and Nkuku endeavours to keep air freight to a minimum and focuses on packaging.
So now you know a bit more about the brand, I’ll let you take a look around.
One of my favourite areas in the store is the mezzanine level which houses Nkuku’s new collection of sofas and arm chairs, which are handmade to order in the UK. The collection is totally swoonworthy and every single piece, especially the love seats, just made me want to curl up, snuggle down and take a nap. The mezzanine floor also showcases a collection of ottomans, lamps, soft furnishings and accessories.
There is also a separate modern barn just across from the store which is used to house a selection of beautiful, reclaimed, one off pieces of furniture and decorative items from sideboards, chests, and wardrobes, to fire pits, ornaments, old cinema seats and ornate tool boxes. Inside this building there is also a workshop where the resident carpenter is able to work.
So there you go, a wander around the new Nkuku Lifestyle Store. Unfortunately, the café was really busy when we visited (it was Mother’s Day) so we didn’t get a chance to sample the artisan, wood roasted coffee or the freshly made cakes. I guess that means I’ll just have to stop by again soon, right? What do you guys think? Would you like to take a leisurely look around this wonderful space?