On a recent trip to York with some visiting American friends, the top of my tourist list was not the Minster or Betty’s Tea Rooms, but The Imaginarium – a fantastical ‘lifestyle’ store which has to be seen to be believed. I had heard tales, but experiencing it in person is something very special.
The Imaginarium blends interior design and retail with the atmosphere of a Victorian curiosity shop – it is a magical experience. I ‘just popped in’ for a quick look, and came out half an hour later feeling as though I had just stepped through the looking glass into Wonderland.
The shop stocks items made by some of the most innovative and interesting designers and artists lovingly curated by Marcus Doyle and Warren Booth, owners of The Yorkshire Soap Company, conveniently located next door to The Imaginarium. That shop too is a fairytale world of scent and beauty, and I highly recommend you visit both.
Inside The Imaginarium you are greeted by quirky and imaginative displays, such as a wall protruding many hands, all holding beautiful handmade silk scarves, or these occasional tables showcasing an amazing array of initial notebooks.
The giant spider covered in crystals suspended over your head from the ceiling is probably the first indication that you need to take a closer look at the displays.
Then you realise the cabinet on which a number of beautiful objects are placed is in fact holding a mermaid corpse bride in all its macabre glory.
Flowers and woodland creatures abound, amidst lamps and wall hangings, candles and crockery.
Photographs cannot capture the feeling of ‘otherness’ that comes over you as you explore, and you will leave full of new ideas to expand your décor horizons into the weird and wonderful.
This place is going to be my first stop when Christmas shopping – I cannot wait to see their festive displays!