Your essential​​ Christmas shopping destination – Coal Drops Yard

If you haven’t been to Kings Cross in a while you are in for quite a surprise. Just behind King Cross train station the shopping area that runs past Google HQ on to Granary Square has a new annexe designed sympathetically by architect Thomas Heatherwick, called Coal Drops Yard. With its canal side location, its Victorian architecture and beautiful new public squares as a backdrop, this area of regeneration is outstanding for cool shops and eateries. Built originally in 1850 to handle the eight million tonnes of coal delivered to London, the surviving structures, streets and rich ironwork of the original Victorian coal drops have been developed into a vibrant new shopping and entertainment neighbourhood. The area is a hotbed of design incubation with Central Saint Martins just next door at Granary Square, and Coal Drops Yard is championing design from international guest artists and local designers and makers. The lighting installation called Space Frames, that can be seen throughout Coal Drops Yard is the work of Eindhoven-based design studio Mieke Meijer. All of this makes the area your perfect one-stop shopping destination for last minute Christmas gift purchases. That and the 60+ retail spaces!

Coal Drops Yard, Christmas tree, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

A one-stop shopping guide to Cold Drops Yard

While not all the retail units have opened just yet (Aesop, Finisterre and Samsung for example) I’m going to share the ones that I found interesting and may even have made a purchase at already – for the purposes of research obviously (and definitely not for you, dear husband if you’re reading this!).

Making a bold entrance to Coal Drops Yard is Tom Dixon. An early adopter he moved his HQ to the area in April. Well before the official opening that happened in the last week of October. Of course, this means there is his fantastic showroom to browse and buy from, as well as the new Tom Dixon restaurant, the Coal Office. This week I ate at the Coal Office for the Amara Interior Awards Winners lunch and I’ll write a blog post soon all about it seperately. For those of us in the interiors business, the trade team of Tom Dixon is based here, as well as the Design Research Studio, the interiors branch of Tom Dixon.

Coal Drops Yard, Tom Dixon, Coal Office, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

As well as a Studio there is a shop that is part showroom, part workshop stacked to the arches with gorgeous interiors and accessories products. You can play with the configurator to choose your fabric, wood finishes and metal elements on furniture or try out the gorgeous Tom Dixon lighting range against dark backgrounds to see how they work in dark environments and at night. And then, so you don’t leave empty handed there is a wonderful array of Tom Dixon accessories like the proper copper coffee pot Brew Cafetiere. In the brands collaborative nature, Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart has opened Wild at the Coal Office, in the first arch of the Tom Dixon flagship shop filled with flowers and foliage

Coal Drops Yard, Tom Dixon, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Tom Dixon, Coal Office, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Tom Dixon, Coal Office, Nikki Tibbles Wild, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Caravane, Bertrand Fairerol flagship, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

The French store Caravane has moved in with its biggest UK store to date, showcasing its quintessential style, from the most tactile of textiles in fantastic prints to large furniture pieces usually only seen in their Paris stores. I wouldn’t be an interiors blogger if I didn’t actually let you know that I have visited this store 3 times already. It’s worth visiting to see their cushion wall alone. With colourful patterned counterpanes, hammered metal plates, linen sheets and some beautiful seagrass rugs there is plenty to love.

Coal Drops Yard, Caravane, Bertrand Fairerol flagship, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Hem pop up shop, neon, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

Swedish brand Hem, who produce affordable designer furniture have a three-month pop up in Coal Drops Yard where you can touch, coo and shop their contemporary homewares.  There are workshops and events happening in store and it’s worth taking a look inside for the wonderful pink cash desk with the tangerine orange wall behind it.

Another homewares and gift focus store that caught my attention was I You All. A nicely curated space filled with the kind of lifestyle products that you’d find in Cereal Magazine. I a fan of Japanese stationery brand Midori, which was shown alongside Scandinavian brand Hay and Normann Copenhagen.

Space Frames, Coal Drops Yard, studio Mieke Meijer, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, black wood bench seating, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

I’m a fan of MHL. By Margaret Howell for its utilitarian feel and its inspiration taken from vintage workwear. The mainline of Margaret Howell is now beyond my wallet but it’s sportier little sister while not cheap, is a more affordable access point to the brand. I was hoping the store would also stock the homewares line which includes the collaborations with ercol and Anglepoise, not yet I was told. I’m crossing my fingers.

Coal Drops Yard, MHL, Brick arches, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Heatherwick Studio, Kissing Rooftops, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

At the very centre of Coal Drops Yard is Heatherwick Studio’s landmark ‘kissing’ rooftops, which will be occupied by Samsung KX LDN in early 2019. But beneath the kissing roofline at ground level, Paul Smith, Cubitts, Wolf and Badger, Le Chocolat by Alain Ducasse and Tracey Neuls all create interesting shopping experiences. I was particularly taken with the fantastic display of Tracey Neuls where boots and shoes were suspended from the ceiling by ribbons in many hues of pink. And if anyone of note is reading this and has me on their Christmas list (Santa I’m talking about you!) I’d love some new glasses from Cubitts and maybe a pair of sunglasses too. If you ever need to convince someone that powder coated metal in strongly saturated pistachio is a good idea take them along to visit the Universal Works shop.  You might also be tempted to shop for the men in your life/family at this Great British label – I can personally vouch for the knitwear.  Also “downstairs” is Lavenham the British equestrian heritage brand with growing streetwear credentials, which has its first store at Coal Drops Yards. With a minimal plywood interior, the product practically pops off the shelves. It’s full of quilty pleasures – pop in you’ll understand what I mean.

Coal Drops Yard, Lavenham,British Heritage Brand, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Lavenham,British Heritage Brand, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Wolf and Badger, Peach Bike, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

Wolf and Badger, the independent small brand champion has recreated their online platform into a retail store that also doubles as a multifunctional space offering experiences to shoppers from workshops to a cafe. Just along the arches is East London perfumer Miller Harris, a real favourite of mine, I’m a sucker for their scented candles and room sprays. The shop is alive with their new Forage collection, you have to sniff the Lost in City perfume, displayed with brightly coloured foliage and pom-poms, which is a wonderful alternative to traditional Christmas decorating.

The independent spirit is strong at Cold Drops Yard which also includes pop-ups like Ally Capellino bags and small indy record store Honest Jon’s. The developer Argent even created a more “tucked away” space for these smaller pop-up/indy shops in the former Victorian horse-stalls.

Coal Drops Yard, Universal Works, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

Upstairs British concept store Outsiders Store has my husband a bit excited, the outdoor outfitter has a more contemporary escapist point of view – where probably no mountaineering actually happens. They also stock Finnish brand Karhu who produce colourful cross over sneakers with hiking-boot style laces and training shoe level comfort.  Then practically next door is British sports heritage brand Fred Perry making a brutalist store design statement in this former industrial hub. The glowing backlit polo shirt fixture was a particular surprise. I was wondering if I could make something smaller and more residential in size to display glass on….. I know, I know.

It’s upstairs that another of my favourite stores is tucked away beside the COS concept store (which by the way feels more like a gallery, than the COS you are used to). Bonds is a lifestyle store, coffee shop and event space with an Earl of East London candle making space. With its tasty coffee, gorgeous homewares and gifts I was in seventh heaven when I visited recently for a workshop with Vitra and Earl of East London to make my “own” scented candle. I thoroughly enjoyed testing and mixing a range of essential oils to blend my own scent before turning it into a soy-wax candle. IF you’re interested my Hello Peagreen candle featured Rosewood, black tea and wood smoke.

Coal Drops Yard, Form & Thread, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

It’s not all about shopping at Coal Drops Yard though, there are plenty of venues for eating and drinking too. The Soho gem Barrafina has opened a venue here, I haven’t tried it yet but I love the tapas in WC1 so I’m sure it’ll do very well indeed. Someone I know recently went to Casa Pastor and raved about the tostadas and the margaritas, which sound like a great post shopping plan to me, I’ll save that one for my next visit.

What I particularly like about the area is the quiet feeling of having stumbled upon a unique shopping gem. If you’re a fan of raw industrial then the feel of these former railway buildings will get your architecture juices flowing, as will the contemporary additions that Heatherwick Studio have introduced to the area. With places to sit and places to wander you could easily while away the hours here in no particular hurry. 

So if you’ve still got Christmas gifts left on your list, a trip to Coal Drops Yard could be your very best plan of attack.

Coal Drops Yard, Barrafina, Gasworks view, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Victorian Architecture, Ironwork, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

A New York Style High Line-style walkway over the arches is planted with grasses, wildflowers and railway sleepers and it’s a wonderful place to rest and view the canal.

Coal Drops Yard, Highline, grasses, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, High line, grasses, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen
Coal Drops Yard, Victorian Architecture, Brickwork, Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen

All photographs by Mary Middleton for Hello Peagreen. To see more one-stop shop ideas take a look here.

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7 Comments

  1. December 18, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    Still haven’t got round to visiting since it opened, but you’ve prompted me do so soon! Great re-use of our industrial heritage

  2. Donna Ford
    December 19, 2018 / 1:53 pm

    I love this area. I didn’t get to check out many shops. Next time! The architecture and history gives it a very special feel. And so well designed!

  3. December 19, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    I haven’t yet been but it looks like such a beautiful area! I will have to make a resolution in January to go and visit — it certainly looks as though it is designed nicely! Beautiful photographs too! Merry Christmas xx

  4. December 19, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    I was really impressed with the Coal Drop Yard on my first visit for the Amara Award Winner’s lunch. I will definitely be back to investigate it further. Especially as I come into London via St Pancras Station, I can’t believe such a wonderful space is so close by! Your photos are great by the way.

  5. December 19, 2018 / 10:05 pm

    Oooh this looks fab Mary!! I haven’t heard of this before so thank you for introducing me, it’s definitely on my list for mh next london trip x

  6. December 20, 2018 / 11:30 am

    What a fabulous place Mary – I didn’t know this existed. Thank you for the quick tour – I love the Tom Dixon Shop.

  7. December 30, 2018 / 9:36 pm

    I was so sad to miss the Amara lunch as I really wanted to visit this place. I’m a huge industrial fan so this looks right up my street. Must plan a trip in 2019.

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