Should you ever find yourself stuck in a present-buying conundrum, in need of a gift for that special, eccentric friend or family member, this is a place to remember: Blackout Shop in Brighton, which even if you don’t live in Brighton you can still shop at on their recently launched online shop. Follow me…
It’s set at the end of a row of whitewashed Regency cottages next to this bohemian homewares emporium. You really can’t miss it for its colourful shopfront; a big hint at what’s inside – a carefully curated riot of colour and kitsch from around the world, all of it tamed within one of the dinkiest shops in the North Laine area of Brighton.
Let’s go in… mmmm, I think I can smell incense. Together with the low ceilings, ambient lighting, it feels like you’ve stepped inside a fortune teller’s gypsy caravan bursting with shiny trinkets or a giant treasure chest dripping with sparkly jewels.
And it doesn’t matter how many times I visit this place, no sooner am I through the door, excitement overcomes me. My eyes start darting around, from cupboard to shelf to floor to ceiling, taking in every little detail. Any worries are forgotten as I switch to kid-in-a-sweetshop mode. I have to resist the urge to run around and touch everything.
Everything you can imagine kitsch-wise is here – colourfully painted enamel plates, mugs, cups and bowls, beautifully weathered vintage tins from India, Mexican loteria cards, glittery decorated boxes of matches, pom poms, lanterns, hanging dolls and light up rabbits, colourful candles, vibrant scented soaps, key rings, notebooks, jewellery, not to mention cushions, bags, trays, clothes, socks… I could on and on!
Looking at it all, it’s absolutely impossible to believe that when it first opened in the early 1990s, it wasn’t so colourful and kitschy. “A couple called Anna and Christophe opened it in 1983 in St Tropez who relocated to Brighton in 1991,” says Sara, one of the current owners, who sent me a photo of their first opening day.
“The shop has developed from there,” she says, “always leaning towards kitsch, handmade stuff and natural fabrics, all of it sourced from around the world, which Anna and Christophe would do on their travels and we still do, too.”
“Jade and l took over five years ago and have since taken it to another level of colour and maximalism!” says Sara who has worked at Blackout Shop since 1994, before owning it, while Jade started in 2008. “It’s a bit of a passion project to say the least and always has been,” she says, “revolving around travelling the world to discover new things, where they’re made and why.”
Their fave things? “Everything!” says Jade. “We only buy what we love, but I guess if I have to choose, my special favourites are the antique African trade beads and Pakistani truck art!!”
At Christmas time, they also do a great line in kitschy decorations including this incredible Thai food truck complete with an actual person inside it making food (which I might have treated myself to last year…). Come on, I know you’re considering getting one too! So, what are you waiting for?
Go crazy at Blackout Shop at 53 Kensington Place, Brighton BN1 4EJ or online, here.