Center City | 428 North 13th Street
The first thing you see in this high-design Japanese import store is a grand wall of unbelievably soft raw cotton towels in delicate stripes, color blocks and chambray polka dots. But continue looking; the shop’s museum-like setup at Morihata was built for browsing. Tables are strewn with sculptural brass bottle openers, notebooks made of sheets of paper shaved individually from wood, and tea canisters so elegant, you won’t dream of banishing them to cabinets.
Go here for: A shopping experience that will make you feel like you’re in the chicest shop in the coolest neighborhood in Tokyo.
Chestnut Hill | 8113 Germantown Avenue
Louise Taft’s six-month-old shop is mostly filled with objects and furniture she finds locally and refurbishes with her sister. Dig deeper into Curio Philadelphia and you’ll find items with far more worldly origins: slim, graceful twisted candles crafted by a 90-year-old woman in Guatemala; rustic painted figurines of saints (both found on Taft’s frequent Guatemalan jaunts); and quilts from India, discovered by Taft’s daughter, that are crafted from hand-blocked fabrics and vintage saris and are so vibrant and eclectic, they can become the focal point of an entire room.
Go here for: That global Anthropologie-like look, but with small-batch products that are actually authentic.
Old City | 41 South 3rd Street
French style is as elusive as it is revered. How to get a taste of it in Philly: Visit Jinous Kazemi’s boutique, Millésimé, ignore modern icons like Alessi and Vitra, and ask her to point out the pieces by the emerging accessories and home-goods designers she’s sleuthed out on her yearly European buying sprees. A sampling of her recent finds: oversized silk scarves splashed with painterly scenes, structured but downtown-hip leather bags, and a gossamer hanging lamp that seems to float in midair.
Go here for: Designers so new, even the French don’t know about them yet.
Bryn Mawr | 853 West Lancaster Avenue
Italian ceramics were in vogue stateside in the late 1940s; decades later, they became commercialized and unauthentic. But for the past 16 years, Susan Arizini has been going straight to the source—taking annual trips to Italy, tirelessly visiting up to 30 factories in Tuscany and Umbria to curate the best classic and more modern dishes, platters, vases and pitchers, then shuttling them back to Via Bellissima, her Main Line shop—where you can buy them and pretend you did all the legwork yourself.
Go here for: Handcrafted, handpainted dishware you definitely won’t find at KOP.
Omoi Zakka Shop
Rittenhouse | 1608 Pine Street
How much better would work be if you scribbled in an adorably patterned bamboo notebook, if your paper clips were shaped like elephants, if your thumbtacks looked like brightly colored candies? It’s a notion Omoi Zakka owner Elizabeth Sieber got from her time in Japan, where even the most mundane items have flair. Now her shop is filled with all manner of never- humdrum trinkets and treasures, sourced from Japan, Italy, Germany and Belgium.
Go here for: The best assortment of quirky-cool desk accessories around.