Cow and Co, 15 Cleveland Square, Liverpool, L1 5BE – Visit Now
Benji Holroyd’s busy design studio – SB Studio – has helped shape Liverpool’s cooler bar and restaurant launches over the past couple of years (not to mention Finnish cruise ships and global blue chips), and his judicious eye for crisp design and liveable spaces isn’t something he stores in a glass jar by his bedside when he clocks off for the evening. Design is his passion, and it’s a passion he shares with partner Nicola Holroyd. But how best to instantly give their prospective clients their world view? How best to “sweat their assets and leverage their brand”? (We’re sure this is how design people speak.) Well, a lookbook and some framed prints of “stuff they did earlier” is one way. But it’s not the SB Studio way.
For them, the answer lay not in telling, but showing. Amassing a crisply curated selection of stuff they love, designed by others, and all eminently, essentially usable was the perfect introduction into their design-led world. It said “this is who we are” better than any client pitch: and revealed a pair who, should you accidentally cut through them with a stylish Victorinox, would have “design” written on every layer. Originally a popular website-only catalogue of gifts, homewares and limited edition artworks, Cow & Co has made the transition into the real world with ease: by a move into a refurbished Victorian shop, in a row of recently spruced-up facades just minutes from the chainstore central of Liverpool ONE.
Within, arranged like exhibits, Nicola’s hand-picked selection of goodies beg to be picked up, pored over and purchased. Beautiful ceramics (mugs and plates in mottled, hand-thrown styles), clever vases, copper accessories and a display of hard to find design, illustration and photo magazines all feature in the small stripped pine and steel shelves that greet you as you walk through the door. Everything, in short, that no amount of trips to John Lewis will furnish you with. And, talking of John Lewis, when was the last time they offered you a cuppa while you were browsing?
It’s this side of the shop – the food and drink – that has been expanded in recent months. Outside, wooden tables and chairs sit on a street that may be only a stone’s throw from Liverpool ONE but couldn’t feel more removed. Inside, blankets sit on the windowsill (for wrapping up on chilly days), while very good coffee, sandwiches and pastries are all on the menu. On our last visit, on a cold Thursday, the place was packed – which speaks volumes about how much Liverpudlians appreciate their independent shops and cafes. Buy the mags, or just sit, chat and flick through them – both work here in this sociable little shop.