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On a hunt for the best in Latvian design

By Howard Jarvis. 04.09.2014

Design: Ars Tela
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Where to buy the best in Latvian design? Here’s a list of stores selling innovative products Made In Latvia.

Amoralle

The creator of the fashion label Amoralle, Inese Ozola, is one of Europe’s ascendant designers in sexy legwear, lingerie and nightwear. Her signature style is very feminine but with a natural confidence and has been complimented by Vogue Italy, Marie Claire Italy, Cosmopolitan Russia and other fashion followers. There are now 27 freestanding Amoralle stores and shop-in-shops, stretching from London to Dubai. Brivibas 71, Open Mon-Fri. 10.00-19.00, Sat. 11.00-17.00, Closed Sun. Also at Sky & More shopping mall, Duntes 14a, Mon-Sun. 10.00-21.00. http://store.amoralle.com

 

Ars Tela

Homespun Baltic linens are beautifully fashioned into high-class clothing, bedcovers, throws, tablecloths, travel kits, iPad bags, covers for books, photo albums – you name it – ready to buy or made to order. This small Latvian-German company recently moved to the Old Town. At the back of the shop experienced and apprentice weavers use traditional techniques to create the materials. Ars Tela makes materials for Armani, souvenirs for embassies and Latvian ministries to give away, and B2B purchases. Enjoy a coffee while you browse. Smilšu 18, www.arstela.lv

 

Buteljons

Virtually everything you can think of and more is made at Buteljons from recycled glass bottles, melted down and polished and twisted into various shapes. Candleholders, clocks, wine glasses, jars with cork lids and lots more are made on the spot or by other glass masters. Miera 10, Open Tue-Fri 11.00-19.00, Sat 12.00-16.00, closed Sun-Mon. www.buteljons.lv

 

Elīna Dobele / ZoFa

Elīna’s background as a groundbreaking architect informs her new path as Latvia’s premier designer of footwear for ladies and gents. “Pure forms, transformable constructions and their consequent interaction within a world in turmoil […] Laconic aesthetics are dissected through textural interplay,” as she puts it. But basically these are damn fine shoes. Check the ridged leather strips in the new collection, recalling both traditional and postmodern construction, where old meets new and feminine meets masculine. Antonijas 22, Open 11.00-19.00, Closed Sun. www.elinadobele.com

 

Istaba

The artiest of the artsy, this long-running hangout combines eclectic gallery downstairs and shabby-chic bar-café upstairs, and is always welcoming and non-attitude. The shop packs a lot of Latvia into a small space – naïve paintings, porcelain wine glasses, ceramic fridge magnets, unusual postcards, beeswax candles, icons, vases, CDs, creepy papier mâché animal masks, notebooks, books on local artists, and odd stuff made by prisoners. Barona 31a, Open daily 12.00-24.00, Fri-Sat 12.00-01.00. www.facebook.com/galerijaISTABA

 

Klase

This brightly illuminated fashion boutique showcases lots of Latvian fashion designers in one place. From the dark and alluring dresses and clothing by Eletto to the playful colors of Alexandr Pavlov, from the sexy legwear of Amoralle (also in this article) to inventive fashion accessories by Agnese Valiniece, there’s lots for ladies to browse here. Get your handbags furry, felt, leopard-skin-like or covered in Latvian folk symbols. Dzirnavu 83/85 (Bergs Bazaar), Open daily 10.00-19.00, closed Sun. www.modesklase.lv

 

Laima Chocolate Museum 

The Baltics’ biggest chocolate factory, Laima was founded in 1870. Discover the secrets of making chocolate and make some yourself at the chocolate workshop. Book in advance. Disabled access.

Miera 22, C-2, Tel. 6615 4777, Open daily 10.00-19.00, closed Mon. www.laima.lv/en/tours/laima-chocolate-museum

 

Lazy Francis

The classiest store in the Miera district, this trendy mini-boutique creates and sells handmade dresses and accessories for girls aged one to fifteen. Most are sent abroad to Dubai or to big customers demanding 500 units at a time. Only the highest quality European fabrics and materials are used – not even the zips are from China. The same dress can cost €100 here, €400 in Moscow or €750 in Abu Dhabi. Lazy Francis is launching an e-store soon. Miera 19, Open 10.00-19.00, Sat 11.00-16.00, closed Sun. www.lazyfrancis.com

 

Makonis

This wafer-thin restaurant and café has unusual features and objects adorning the interior, posing as a gallery space for novel design ideas. Run by an amiable bunch of chaps recently returned from working in London, Makonis always pours a great cup of Illy coffee, and if it’s not too busy the food is excellent too. A German chef works behind the scenes together with two young assistants. Choose from four tiny tables downstairs – some no bigger than a plank of wood – or larger spaces above. Palasta 7, Open Mon-Thu 09.00-21.00, Fri 09.00-23.00, Sat 10.00-23.00, Sun 10.00-16.00. www.facebook.com/MakonisCoffee

 

Narciss

Alise Trautmane is one of Latvia’s most talked-about fashion designers, and the dresses on display at her tiny but upmarket boutique in the Bergs Bazaars arcade are all about sophisticated femininity and “humble luxury”. Wary of avoiding sick narcissism, Narciss wants its bright, colorful, floral fashions to make women more self-confident, with clothes not out to shock but simply make women attractive. Materials include silk and cashmere and are only occasionally synthetic. If needed, dresses can be quickly tailored upstairs while you wait with a coffee. Marijas 13 (Bergs Bazaar), Open Mon-Fri 10.00-19.00, Sat 10.00-18.00, closed Sun. www.NARCISSfashion.com

 

Pienene

At its prime Old Town location, “dandelion” divides into two rooms – shop and café. Buy “amber fiber” Ambline textiles that are 80% linen, 20% amber melted and spun at high temperature. Also find ultra-soft 100% Latvian wool products, countless scarves, teddy bears made by blind artists, bowties and sunglasses made of wood, candles made with flowers, grow-your-own mushrooms, highly original belts, cufflinks and earrings, dandelion marmalade, and local rhubarb wine and cherry port. Take a break in the café with delicious meringues, cookies, honey-apricot cake, local herbal teas or a seabuckthorn smoothie. Kungu 7/9, Open daily 10.00-20.00. www.studijapienene.lv

 

Putti

There’s always something to see at this store in the Old Town selling jewelry designed in Latvia. For much of the summer they’re hosting an exhibition on amber, made by artists across a swathe of Europe once known as the amber road between here and Italy. But local artisans’ glittering creations are also on display, with silver and gold, precious and semi-precious stones, mammoth tusk, ebony and more. Mārstaļu 16, Open Mon-Fri 10.00-18.00, Sat 11.00–17.00, closed Sun. www.putti.lv

 

Riija

One of Riga’s most central and stylish stores showcasing high-quality Latvian products and souvenirs, Riija sells everything from quirky glassware to branded bed linen to felt slippers. Many of the wares are the work of talented solo artisans working in rural areas. Buy beautiful glazed bowls in reds and oranges, black ceramics, leather wallets, linen jackets and dresses, kids’ wooden or soft toys, almond cookies, and chocolates and truffles with flavors like almond-cinnamon, rhubarb-mint and blue plum. Terbatas street 6/8, Open Mon-Fri 10.00-19.00, Sat 10.00-17.00, closed Sun. www.riija.lv




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