L'Oréal Blackett stumbles on a hidden gem and buys into a 'lagom' lifestyle
We’ve been led to believe that there’s a far better way to live – complete with luxury soy candles and pretty hanging plants.
Scandinavians call optimum living ‘lagom’ - translating as ‘just the right amount’ - it's a mix of balance and practicality, exercised by not being wasteful and enjoying a more frugal existence. The Japanese, meanwhile, call this the ‘KonMari’ method – an efficient art of decluttering which became the subject of worldwide bestseller, Spark Joy.
Brand new Northern Quarter concept store Form aims to sell you this idealised lifestyle - minimalist, functional, elegant and devoid of clutter and tat - inside their stunning new store on Bradley Street (found off the beaten track, near to Texture on Lever Street). And it’s an easy sell.
Unassuming from the outside, Form sits beneath a breathtaking atrium glass ceiling where the light floods in like a greenhouse. It’s an architecturally striking Grade II listed building - one of the city centre’s only surviving examples of one-up one-down houses – and features exposed brick with an elegant winding metal staircase and a sense of being outside though inside.
Owners Elly and Harry moved to Manchester from London two years ago to pursue their dream of selling beautiful well-formed things, from printed crockery and potted hanging plants to soy candles, notebooks, jewellery and natural soap.
“It was hard to find the right place but when we saw this we just knew,” says Elly. “I make the hanging plants myself and choose products based on the quality, functionality, whether they’re handmade, things like that.”
Every product sold by Form is handmade by independent makers. Unlike mainstream stores with overwhelming amounts of products, they’ve put no emphasis on mass purchasing with a very streamlined collection of wares on offer.
They say: 'We believe in slow-living and taking a thoughtful approach to buying; choosing to buy fewer, well-considered products that have been built to last and take a pride of place in our hearts and home. Everything you see, we would genuinely love to have in our home - and in most cases do have - or would love to gift to others.'
Great and thoughtful products include natural skincare range Tuk’r made by Trove, Levenshulme’s cult neighbourhood café. Tuk’r uses the left over coffee granules to make all natural body scrubs and cleansers - it’s a wonderful idea, as are the HOBO soy candles designed in Lincolnshire by maker Rachel Clark, whose candles are said to be eco-friendly, sustainable and cleaner for the environment.
“We’re hoping to work with more Manchester makers,” says Elly. “We also plan on hosting makers workshops in the future.
Harry and Elly are clear perfectionists; the simply packaged products are lined up neatly and symmetrically, plus the space is immaculately clean and untouched by sticky fingers – it makes you wonder what their home is like.
If your lifestyle is more maximalist than minimalist, then Form’s penchant for simplicity may veer towards the clinical. Most of the products don’t tend to steer away from beige or green pantone colours. Perhaps a subtle injection of colour wouldn’t hurt Form’s overall aesthetic.
Nonetheless, the high street could learn from Form’s considerate approach to purchasing. Concept stores are on the rise in Manchester (just take a look at Fig and Sparrow and Porter + Cole, also in the Northern Quarter) and the signs are that shoppers now want in on a more curated life.
Form Lifestyle Store is now open on 6 Bradley Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester
You can also shop Form and its talented makers online.