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Podarok 2.0

So. It is finally here. 2 years after our inception, Podarok is opening another store.

It has been a long, hard journey for us, with lots of pitfalls along the way, and we are so happy to say that is is because of these setbacks that we have ended up finding THE PERFECT store, instead of settling for one we were unsure about.

Andrey and Amy are the team behind searching for potential premises, and they have been all over London and Oxford searching for the shop that could be our bear cave. We have seen zombie style shopping centres, poky little holes, hidden coal cellars (scary!), streets that close at the weekend, and hipster art spaces.

Finally, after almost giving up, Andrey literally stumbled on our new shop, on the High St - We had not seen it advertised, and so we pounced! Months of legal bizzle and paperwork later and the shop is ours.

Here starts the next chapter of Podarok. As the company expands, we will be able to bring you even more beautiful things to covet, and we are not stopping here!

Our wonderful freshly promoted Store Manager Vincent will be running the Cambridge shop from now on, with Amy Managing Oxford and training new Minions.

Here is to a crazy Christmas, we will see you soon, and please BEAR with us while we get started!

September 17, 2014 by Amy Hawes

Beautiful Bags

Let's face it, in this day and age of needing at least five or six gadgets with you at all times, plus your wallet, purse, book, school work, university work, ANY work, having a great bag in which to keep everything safe and sound is at the top of many people's priority list! We here at Podarok believe that having a sturdy possession holder does not mean having to sacrifice a sense of fashion and style. Here are a few select brands that we stock, some of our most successful and most beautiful bags!

by-Lin

One of our most popular brands, Dutch company by-Lin specialise in creating unique and originally shaped leather bags for women who want something a little different to the norm. Inspired by the Amsterdam tulip, by-Lin's signature design and product is shaped just like the head of the famous flower, fastening and unfastening in the same manner as a blossoming bud. Other items in the range include coin purses and clutches themed like talas leaves and daun leaves, and the expert designers at the heart of the process really bring the best out of the organic patterns of nature.

Vida Vida

Looking for something a little more traditional and conventional? Vida Vida might just be the brand for you. They produce a wide range of different sized satchels and messenger bags with sturdy, long lasting metal buckles that ensure all of your valuables are kept safe and sound. Vida Vida as a company are very ethically aware, and only use leather that has become available as a bi-product of food manufacture rather than an animal being used solely for the purposes of fashion. The naturally sun tanned leather gives a feel of real luxury, resulting in a bag you will love forever!

Corticeira Viking

And for those who like their fashion and accessories to be even more ethically and environmentally considerate, joint Portuguese and Swedish venture company Corticeira Viking produce an entire range of bags made completely from cork. That's right, cork! Don't be fooled by the thought of the material, these bags are as sturdy and secure as they come and certainly stand out from the crowd in terms of originality and unusual materials! The selection covers all required areas from handbags to purses to briefcases and smaller messenger bags, why not treat yourself to more than one and own a complete cork set!

Scaramanga

Back to something a little more traditional looking, this leather satchels and messenger bags from Scaramanga are perfect for hoisting all your goods around in a rustic stylish fashion. The distressed leather of the bags evoke a warm, worn quality that is reassuring in a trusty shoulder companion. Available in plenty of difference shapes and sizes, particularly designed to accommodate several sizes of laptop, these sturdy bags are equipped for the modern age whilst at the same time looking like a piece of vintage fashion. Perfect!

August 24, 2014 by Amy Andrews

Green and Natural Products for Wimbledon Season!

For those of you whose sporting preferences a little more genteel and luxurious than the World Cup, the next fortnight marks one of the most historic and prestigious events in the British calendar, the Wimbledon tennis championships. Wimbledon is the height of the grass court season and the rich and famous flock to the grounds of SW19 to catch a glimpse of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Alongside the sport the fashion plays an important part too, and here at Podarok we have a number of products that pay tribute to nature and the aesthetic of the grass court season. Take a look!

Michael Michaud Jewellery

The glorious green of the grass season is the main image that comes to mind when thinking about the style of Wimbledon, and Michael Michaud's range of nature inspired jewellery is a perfect tribute to the variety and beauty of the natural world. Unfortunately no strawberry designs here, but the rest of nature is covered pretty well with creations including pea pods, raspberries, acorns, clover and sequoia. Make a statement as large as Novak Djokovic's serve with one of these stunning pieces for your own collection.

Collette Waudby Jewellery

Another collection of jewellery that accompanies that summery, natural feel of the Wimbledon courts is this range of sterling silver pieces by Birmingham based artist and designer Collette Waudby. Perhaps more suited to those who prefer a more subtle statement than what Michael Michaud has to offer, the delicate lines and simple yet stunning curve of the leaves that Collette so beautifully highlights in her jewellery are as stylish and elegant as Roger Federer's backhand.

Hannah Nunn Lighting

Fancy staying at home and watching from the comfort of your living room instead? Good idea, over the years we have seen that the Great British weather is not always kind to those who visit Wimbledon in person. Those familiar rainclouds can be ever so dark, and these delightful table lamps and candle covers by artist and designer Hannah Nunn will keep you bathed in a warm glow through even the roughest of rain delays. Adorned with various flowers and plants, Hannah's creations certainly keep up the theme of summer and nature.

 

June 25, 2014 by Amy Andrews

World Cup Fever! International Products

The wait is over. Whether you are a football fan or not, for five weeks every four years the entire country falls under a sporting spell. School children stay at home, office workers call in sick, all struck down with the same bizarre illness, a disease that comes around like clockwork, the inevitable World Cup fever! Here at Podarok we strive to bring you the best of British boutique produce, but we also love to showcase items from all across the globe. Here are a few products that represent some of the countries who will be facing off in search of the coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy this month!

ENGLAND - Penny Williams Clocks

We know better than to get too excited about England's chances of glory these days, but it still hurts just as much when that inevitable final penalty gets slotted limply wide of the post! Make sure you never miss a single kick off with one of these beautiful pendulum clocks by Birmingham based artist and designer Penny Williams. Penny's clocks are made from heat treated brass and copper, as enjoyable a way to use metal as the long suffering and long travelling England band! And if all the tension starts to become too much for you, the quirky designs of the clocks can always distract you from the on pitch action!

FRANCE - Origami Jewellery

France's recent World Cup history is a vision of mixed fortunes, from being crowned champions on their home turf in 1998 to crashing out in the group stages without winning a single game in South Africa in 2010. Something of much more reliable quality and satisfaction, however, is this collection of stunning origami themed jewellery from French designers Claire Naa and Arnaud Soulignac. Clearly inspired by the Orient, the French artists have been much more creative than their football team's midfield and come up with several wonderful designs including cranes, rabbits and even dinosaurs. (No reference to France's ageing defender Patrice Evra of course!)

NETHERLANDS - by-Lin Bags

Widely regarded as the best team never to have won the World Cup, the Netherlands will be looking to avenge their narrow defeat to Spain four years ago in the final of the tournament. Their rough and ready tactics turned the match in to a brutish spectacle in 2010, but one Dutch team that operate with nothing other than style and finesse are those over at by-Lin. Captained by Linde Van der Poel, by-Lin produce a range of amazing leather bags, with their signature design being the famous Amsterdam tulip. Each bag range is inspired by different species of foliage, and the Dutch will be hoping that their national side will be just as creative in their play as by-Lin are in their design process.

PORTUGAL - Corticeira Viking Bags

Portugal are lucky enough to have arguably the best player in the world right now, Cristiano Ronaldo, in their team. He's strong, sturdy and plays with a hell of a lot of style, and the very same could be said about this collection of Portuguese made cork bags and accessories by Corticeira Viking. Founded when little Cristiano was only ten years old, the company specialise in an eco-friendly practise of producing bags made from cork. Sure, they don't use as much hair gel as their footballing superstar compatriot, but the bags have been a huge hit in our Cambridge store and are likely to be more successful over the summer than the football team in humid Brazil!

RUSSIA - Podarok Russian Shawls 

Fresh from hosting February's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia continue their year of sport by heading to the hot climates of Brazil in hope of qualifying from their group including Belgium, Algeria and South Korea. Though without some of their more well known players from the past like Andrey Arshavin, they will be somewhat of an unknown quantity to worldwide TV viewers. Something a bit more familiar though, is the traditional Russian shawl, an instantly recognisable accessory from the largest country in the world. Founded in 1795 in Pavlovsky Posad, the Pavlo Posad Shawl Manufactory in Russia create traditional Russian shawls, the epitome of subtle elegance. Committed to creating high quality designs, many of the patterns in use have been passed down from generation to generation.

U.S.A. - Michael Michaud Jewellery

Perhaps better known for different sporting histories and pastimes, the United States have successfully managed to become part of the World Cup furniture over the last twenty years. They hosted the tournament in the 1994 and brought a refreshing sense of show business and style to the proceedings. Adding a further sense of style on behalf of the U.S.A. is New York based jewellery designer Michael Michaud, who creates magnificent pieces of nature inspired jewellery cast directly from actual leaves, branches and flowers, resulting in impossibly intricate creations. America might not have the best 'soccer' team in the world, but they sure do produce some exceptional jewellery!

June 11, 2014 by Amy Andrews

Pretty Products For The Kitchen

The kitchen is sometimes a room that is forgotten with regard to style and decor. The impact that a visually appealing kitchen area can have on one's house and one's attitude can be severely underestimated. Not here at Podarok! We think that adding a touch of style and fun to your cooking space can really make the difference. From crockery to cleaning aids, there is no reason that kitchen accessories have to be dull and mundane. Take a look at some of our favourite products from some really special brands, guaranteed to brighten up your kitchen!

Lush Designs

It's no secret that Lush Designs is one of our most popular and loved brands in store and online. Marie and Maria, the two ladies at the forefront of the creative process put their designs to a number of homeware products ranging from their acclaimed lampshades all the way down the chain to items of kitchenware perfect for this very article. Lush Designs' signature motif, the Fox and Cubs, is displayed wonderfully on an apron, their wild pig stands proudly on a coffee mug, ready to take the heat! A beautiful array of vividly coloured vegetables adorn a wonderfully quirky set of dinner napkins, and for a piece of fabric with a less elegant job, how about a wise old owl staring out at you on a trusty tea towel! The beauty of Lush Designs is that whilst their designs are varied and unique, they fit together perfectly to create a beautiful set of kitchen goodies!

Hudson & Middleton

Tea and coffee mugs are arguably the most regularly used items in a kitchen, and these fine bone china mugs from United Kingdom based company Hudson & Middleton are a wonderfully beautiful way to spend some time having a cuppa! This particular selection are all very bird centric, mixing classic looking illustration with amusing statements and puns. From dancing penguins, to flouncing flamingos and smug peacocks, each mug is bursting with quirky personality and a set of any number of these would make for a pleasing collection and certain talking points!

Magpie

Launched in 2011, Magpie are a relatively young company that have hit the ground running with a truly amazing range of kitchen accessories. Like so many of the products we love to share with you, a focus on nature is prevalent throughout their designs and products. Wonderful espresso sets with birds on the cups and nests on the saucers are so cute that you will end up making excuses to use them! When it comes to egg cups, you have the choice of having breakfast with a wide array of wildlife ranging from woodland animals to more birds, and keep your spices in order with a set of stunning tins. It is so hard to decide on a single set to choose, they are all so charming!

June 09, 2014 by Amy Andrews

Gifts For Women

Whether it's a birthday, Christmas, anniversary or no special occasion in particular, the task of picking out a gift for your female friend or loved one can be a stressful experience! Here at Podarok we pride ourselves on stocking a wide range of products for women that appeal to a plethora of style and fashion preferences. From jewellery, to clothing, to accessories and stunning homeware, here a few of our favourites!

by-Lin Bags

Dutch designer Linde Van der Poel is the creative mastermind behind this collection of absolutely stunning bags. by-Lin's signature design is the wonderful Amsterdam tulip, of which we have both the handbag and miniature coin purse varieties. Alongside the tulip bags, by-Lin also produce unusual and innovative clutch bags fashioned in the shapes of leaves from the maple and talas tree. Any one of these beautiful designs would make for a cherished gift, each one refreshingly unique and a definite talking point!

Podarok Russian Shawls

These amazingly intricate Russian shawls are one of our best kept secrets. These authentic, 100% wool 'platkis' are available in very few stores in the United Kingdom, and we are lucky enough to be able to stock a large and beautiful range of different patterns online and in store. The great thing about these shawls is their fashion versatility, with several options of wearing that will certainly suit anyone's preferences.

Michael Michaud Jewellery

Michael Michaud's range of nature inspired jewellery is really something to behold. The American designer utilises the simplistic beauty of, amongst others, the pea pod, raspberry and acorn to produce stunning pieces of statement jewellery that would make an ideal gift for a female loved one. If you are looking for something a little bit more original but classic in terms of high quality, then Michael Michaud is certainly the way to go.

Lush Designs Cushions

Moving on to some home ware, the lovely Marie and Maria over at Lush Designs of London pool their extensive creative talents together to produce an array of wonderful designs that are place on to, amongst other products, these quirky cushions. The perfect cushion for your sofa or armchair can really bring the room to life, and one of these stunning designs would make the perfect gift for somebody who prefers home decor over fashion or jewellery.

Hannah Nunn Lighting

Sometimes a lady likes a gift that is practical as well as completely beautiful, and for those such ladies we have a range of lighting by British designer Hannah Nunn. Hannah's stunning floral designs are turned in to both table lamps and candle covers and offer a warm, homely light to your lounge or bedroom. The perfect gift choice is your loved one likes to curl up in an armchair with a good book and fabulous lighting.

May 30, 2014 by Amy Andrews

Artist Feature: Lush Designs

Any frequent visitors to our Cambridge shop or online store will be familiar with the wonderful homeware created by Lush Designs of London. They provide some of the quirkiest and most colourful products we are lucky enough to stock for you. Let's meet the brilliant and creative duo behind these increasingly popular home goods.

Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings both studied printmaking and painting at Maidstone Art College, and this skilled training and nurturing of natural talent combined with backgrounds in theatre and community arts programmes blossomed in to the creation of Lush Designs. Utilising all of their creative flare and eye for detail, Marie and Maria have built a company that has become renowned for quirky, whimsical and colourful designs applied to a wide and varied range of accessories for the home. From lampshades to tea towels to cushions, the ladies have come up with a multitude of eccentric designs including their signature fox and cubs, cheeky monkeys and wise owls. A focus on nature and the natural world is evident in all of the Lush Designs creations, and the traditional animalistic theme combined with Marie and Maria's contemporary illustrative style make for memorable and statement making items to improve your home decor.

Though Lush Designs is fast climbing towards the top of the homeware ladder, the ladies at the heart of the brand make every effort to maintain the homely and personal message and tone that we here at Podarok look for in our chosen products. Many of the company's ranges are still made in house at their studio at Cockpit Arts in Deptford, London, and Marie and Maria's roots in community arts are evident in their twice yearly open studio events. 

We bet that you will not be able to decide on just one single accessory or design when you see everything that Lush Designs have to offer. We hope you have as much fun browsing and buying as we did!

May 28, 2014 by Amy Andrews

Gifts For Men

Some visitors to our website might assume that Podarok.co.uk is only for the female internet shoppers out there, not so! Sure, we love to show you beautiful jewellery and designer handbags, but we haven't forgotten the gentleman among us and stock many products that any man would be happy to have! Here are a few of our favourites.

Fox & Chave Ties

Fox & Chave are a United Kingdom based company founded in 1990 who specialise in luxury, 100% silk ties that combine classic elegance with fun and quirky designs and patterns. Some of our favourites include their tribute to the wonderful nostalgia of Penguin Books, an ode to the masterful wordsmith skills of William Shakespeare, a celebration of Da Vinci's 'Vitruvian Man' and gloriously geeky salute to the hundreds of shelves of Oxford's world famous Bodleian Library. Fox & Chave's commitment to the highest quality accessories mixed with a range of somewhat eccentric theme choices suit the Podarok vibe to the tee.

Mary Fellows Cufflinks

Mary Fellows is a British ceramicist based in Lewes, East Sussex who designs, hand makes and hand paints all of these wonderful cufflinks. Each pair contains either a humorous statement, funny pun or quirky illustration ranging from film references to specific gifts for fathers and uncles. We think these cufflinks are the perfect example of adding some personality to a formal outfit that can easily become mundane and unoriginal. A bit of contemporary fun made with love by a very talented artist.

Vida Vida Satchels

Married team Matt and Andreya Townsend set up Vida Vida in 2005, a company that specialises in high quality leather goods including messenger bags, satchels, wallets and belts. We think there is something really satisfying in the feeling of owning a top quality bag, and the selection we have on the site from Vida Vida certainly ticks all the boxes when it comes to durability, practicality and style. They may look vintage and old fashioned but in these modern times we know the importance of pockets and space for your laptop, so take a look and see which one you want!

Repeat Repeat Mugs

Do you ever get bored of those old fashioned, boring looking floral china mugs that seem to have been sitting in the cupboard for as long as you can remember? Hardly the most masculine cup from which to drink your tea or coffee! Why not add a little bit of humour to your drinks break with some mugs from Repeat Repeat, all adorned with fun colourful designs and even funnier dark humour. Our particular favourites include the cheeky visual comedy of the corgi mug and the dalmatian mug. Which one will you choose?

InHouse Clocks

Any busy and professional gentleman needs to keep his eye on the time, and what better way to do it than with one of these expertly crafted clocks by British company InHouse Clocks? We stock a wide range of sizes, styles and wood choices at Podarok.co.uk ranging from mantel, to alarm to full on wall clock. Each individual clock boasts an easy to read and clear face and is as sturdy as they come. A clock is a sometimes underestimated element of home decor, make sure you don't forget!

May 22, 2014 by Amy Andrews

Artist Focus: Michael Michaud

Something we like to do here at Podarok is put a face to the names of the many artists and designers we feature in store and online. One of our most popular collections is the range of nature inspired jewellery expertly created by American designer Michael Michaud. So, let's get to know him shall we?
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Michael Michaud's path to the very top of boutique designer jewellery very much centres around his relationship with the state of New York. After studying and becoming a master of moulds at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the 1970s, Michael continued to hone his skills by working for several different jewellery makers in New York. But it wasn't until 1991 that he found his true niche and calling. A combination of living in the picturesque Connecticut countryside and working in New York's vibrant flower district lead to a passionate appreciation of the beauty of nature, and the Michael Michaud range of botanical jewellery was born.

Beautiful pieces, I am sure you agree. But what is it that sets Michael Michaud creations apart from the rest in terms of quality and originality? The secret lies in the moulding process. Rather than using models, Michael casts his pieces directly from actual leaves, flowers and branches, with the plant burning away and leaving behind a beautifully intricate and life like mould, from which he can then embellish with luxurious items such as fresh water pearls and coloured garnet. The fashion and art worlds clearly agree with us on the standard of Michael's creations, as he has had featured collections all over the world in revered institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art and the Chateau de Versailles.

So much praise and acclaim, the best thing to do is to see for yourself. Podarok are proud to stock a large and varied selection of Michael Michaud jewellery. Browse the selection here, jewellery inspired by nature and equally as stunning.
May 19, 2014 by Amy Andrews

Seven Subtle Products For A Keen Film Fan

Something that the team here at Podarok have discovered as we search for great products is that many of them appear to pay subtle tribute to popular films and their characters. Whether they intentionally pay homage or not, a number of the designers featured in our store and on our website have created some perfect items that would suit a keen fan of film who does not necessarily want to display their love for cinema in the most obvious and outlandish ways. Here are a few of our favourites:

1. Lush Designs Brown Monkey Lampshade - (Where The Wild Things Are)

First a beloved children's book written by Maurice Sendak in 1963, Where The Wild Things Are was adapted for the big screen to critical acclaim in 2009. Both the source material illustrations and the aesthetic look of the film are quirky and whimsical with a hint of magic, and these vibes are perfectly captured and replicated in the designs of Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings of Lush Designs. Their range of lampshades, this cheeky brown monkey in particular, really evoke the curious and mischievous tone of Spike Jonze's film adaptation. 

2. Vida Vida Leather Satchel - (Wes Anderson)

Wes Anderson has been one of the most consistently impressive and innovative filmmakers in the past twenty years, and any lover of his work will know that his aesthetic style is almost instantly recognisable. From Moonrise Kingdom, to his latest triumph The Grand Budapest Hotel, to even his exceptional animated presentation of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson's whimsical, almost timeless yet undeniably fashionable sense of style is apparent throughout, and items such as this classic leather satchel from Vida Vida are certainly resemblant of the fashion within his motion pictures.

3. Mary Fellows Cufflinks - (Star Wars)

Granted, these quirky designer cufflinks by Mary Fellows may not be the most subtle of film references, but they are the smart option for a Star Wars enthusiast who just can not get away with bringing his light sabre to a wedding or formal party. The appeal of George Lucas' epic science fiction saga is evident in the generations that is has captivated, and with the news of three more instalments heading our way, now would be the perfect time to invest a small token of your appreciation for one of the greatest franchises ever committed to celluloid. (Except Phantom Menace, we must never talk of Phantom Menace.)

4. CARDINKY Tea-Rex Print - (Jurassic Park)

Do you still have nightmares over that cup of water beginning to ominously ripple? I do. Combine your love of Steven Spielberg's classic nineties adventure with your more matured, age acquired love for a good cup of tea with this amusing art print by Dannyboy over at CARDINKY. Just like Star Wars, Jurassic Park is due for another instalment in 2015, so now is a better time than ever to stake your claim as one of the original fans by purchasing this quirky tribute to one of cinema's greatest ever tiny armed villains.

5. Origami Jewellery Gold Crab Necklace - (The Little Mermaid)

Yes, Ariel had a lovely voice, Prince Eric had a lovely chin and Flounder had lovely stripes, but we all know that the real star of The Little Mermaid was Sebastian the crab. Regarded as the film that started a second golden age for the beloved animation studio, the 1989 film from Disney was the last to be completely hand drawn, and what better way to pay tribute to one of the greatest cartoons of all time than be wearing a stylish resemblance of its scene stealing Rastafarian sidekick, expertly crafted by Origami Jewellery.

Dun dun, dun dun, dun dun. A sound that will always send a shiver down one’s spine. Though Steven Spielberg’s 1975 oceanic masterpiece did little to help the Great White shark’s reputation, the film caught the imagination of the world and this simple yet stylish rotary candle holder from Pluto Produkter serves as an elegant nod to the film that made all of us afraid to go in the water. Whether you are a diehard Spielberg fan or a connoisseur of horror, let a shark put a smile on your face for once rather than make you hide behind a cushion!

7. Kate Lycett Bunting Lantern - (The Illusionist)

The Illusionist, or L'Illusionniste as it was originally titled, is a French/British animated feature released in 2010 that contained some of the most enjoyable and whimsical animation and story telling of the last five years. This same magical quality is replicated by British artist Kate Lycett in her stunning paper cut tea light lanterns, one would be forgiven for mistaking her creations for scenes from the film. The illustrations manage to be simplistic yet utterly intricate at the same time, much like the animated versions of London and Edinburgh that we see in The Illusionist. A delightful gift for a fan of French cinema or whimsical animation in general.

May 14, 2014 by Amy Andrews