Swoon Home Furnishings offers some much-needed originality to shoppers sick of the same old selections.
On your first excursion to Swoon Home Furnishings and Lifestyle Boutique, do not be surprised to find yourself swooning over the bounty of handmade, artisan-crafted pieces from all around the world which you find before you. If you do find yourself feeling faint, rest easy knowing that near the entrance is a bed, and that it is as lovely to look at as to lay upon. Merely walking through its door is an enchanting, visual assault on the senses. Swoon is no mere retail store; it is an experience.
Radika Eccles, the owner, said her fundamental, “idea in opening this space was to make people, well, swoon!” Having let loose several swoons myself, I do believe she succeeded.
Sitting across from Ah’Pizz, on small block of North Willow St., it may seem easy to miss the boutique amidst all the other shops and businesses squeezed in there. Still, even from a fair distance, among all the hustling and bustling which is Downtown Montclair, Swoon stands out like a mirage of some warm, vibrant oasis within a concrete desert, full of color and life. Yet Swoon is no mirage.
Upon entering this oasis, those colors quickly take shape, and soon the urge to simply stand there, gawking at all of the lovingly-crafted, locally and internationally-made pieces, becomes hard to resist. Slick shelves adorned with all numbers of artist’s handiwork greet you as you step inside: glass, ceramics, porcelains, metalwork and more, each so memorable and deftly-made that it feels like they should be enshrined in some sacred space. It really must be underscored how much one sojourn to Swoon truly feels like visiting a sacred place, in its own unique way.
Ultimately, it was that very same uniqueness which so rapidly captivated my heart upon my first visit. There is simply some built-in vibe in the boutique which captures this primal human craving: to possess something honestly original and human. Swoon helps satiate this hunger, in an age where so many feel a lack of meaning in their lives.
Having spent extended periods living in Brazil, South Africa and India, Eccles has had many opportunities in her life to admire the methods by which people from all around the world still hand-craft certain wares. Unfortunately, most of these are sold on the mass-market for exorbitant prices. In doing so, international merchants and corporations end up low-balling and ultimately cheating these families, who make inimitably beautiful work, out of the vast majority of profit.
For these reasons, she eventually opened her own furnishing line, “Rhadi Wholesale,” before partnering with wholesale company KOKO and its owner, Olga Vieira, six years ago. Originally focused on African imagery, much of Eccles’ interests today surround India. As the website shop shows, she offers original work from niches the world-over.
Eccles was also quite keen to emphasize her firm belief in Fair Trade. “I check out all the locations where items I sell are manufactured,” said Eccles. “I make sure everyone who make the items I sell are paid appropriately.” Swoon also offers a variety of indoor-outdoor rugs, all made from plastic and fully recyclable.
Perhaps the most impressive of Swoon‘s offerings is their line Kantha Quilts made in India, all hand-embroidered (sometimes by small groups of women) with a single line of thread running through the entire quilt. They are nothing short of stunning, and must be seen to believe.
Towards the back of the boutique, there are pillows unlike any you’ve ever seen. Screen-printed and then embroidered, the colors pop out so vividly as if you were visiting India yourself. Each pillow has its own unique design inspired by dozens of subjects and styles, as Eccles explained. “Mikros” (Micro-Organisms, My Favorite), “Match” (Matchboxes), “Ganesh” (of Hindu lore) are but a few.
In addition, the boutique stages events fairly often. According to Eccles, coming up next is a Culinary Tasting-Event, aptly dubbed the “Swoon-Over Series.” Valentine’s Day will have a “Red and Pink Sale,” where all items are 15 percent off. Early Spring will bring a workshop teaching attendees to create Matisse Cutouts – and come next Fall will be a “Mason Afrique” exhibit, featuring Artisan work out of Senegal, West Africa. For more info, see their Facebook page. Clearly there is much to look for at Swoon, and to look forward to as well.