Walking around big cities is my favorite thing to do. Cities are where I feel the happiest; the hustle, architecture, culture and the people. The best part of the city is that it’s constantly changing. There’s always something new the next time that I visit. A couple of weeks ago I visited Seattle with a friend; there’s something that Seattle has that Portland doesn’t. It’s busier, the buildings are taller, and it has a metropolitan feel. During my visit to Seattle I found this stunning store called Totokaelo. It’s located a few minutes east of the Public market. Totokaelo is a store that carries clothing and accessories for men and women as well as home goods.
As you walk in, the first thing you realize is how airy and minimal the store is. It’s such an open space that you can see the whole store all at once. I was most excited for how the space was decorated. Everything about this place was designed to create an experience. What you notice first is that it’s simple yet it’s functional architecture. I loved how tall the ceilings were, and having them painted white made them seem gigantic. Another cool part of the architecture is how they built the fixtures into the walls.
As you walk around you notice large shelves built into the walls filled with beautiful ceramics accompanied by flatware, candles and textiles. Then walking further into the store you see these beautiful steps with hundreds of women’s shoes; all different styles, shapes, sizes and colors. At a glance all these shoes are overwhelming. Right next to the shoes is women’s clothing with beautiful neutral pieces from brands like Acne Studios, Jil Sander and The Row.
In the middle of the room is a staircase which takes you down to their basement. The basement was their original space before they built up. As you walk down the wooden staircase you’re engulfed in a new world. The vibe is more intense and intimidating. The bright fluorescent lights, the lack of windows, and the depth of the space made the white room seem like it could go on forever. I felt like I was in a museum with everything lined up, stacked and placed in their own designated spot with most of the merchandise aligned perfectly on the right and left side of the room. As I looked around I couldn’t help but drool over the monochromatic pieces they carried; from black leather backpacks to crème colored sweaters. You can find pieces from a classic knit sweater to a modern asymmetrical shirt where you couldn’t tell which was the front and which was the back.. In the middle of the room sat a large area rug with a coffee table. On top of the coffee table are some publications, and other little accessories like belts and wallets. Looking straight ahead from the staircase you see another showcase of shoes, this time for men. The whole wall is like a bookshelf, displaying formal leather shoes by Comme Des Garcons to casual Adidas Stan Smith sneakers.
The best part of Totokaelo is what lies right behind the staircase - In the very back of the space is a tiny greenhouse filled with little trees. It was a nice balance to the rest of the store. The whole space was minimal and contemporary, almost futuristic, yet in this tiny corner was the only instance where you saw color from the lush green leaves. It was as if they were trying to bring in nature, something that was lacking in the sterile environment.
Stores like this and the experience I have within them have always been interesting to me. The design of their store was well thought out. They wanted a specific mood - it was playful and creative with the merchandise they were selling, but the interior made it seem sophisticated and intimidating. I loved how the decor and architecture was very clean and minimal as they mixed vintage and contemporary elements. It wasn’t just any store, I actually felt like I was transported into a museum, with everything too delicate to touch. I enjoyed the styling and the aesthetic of the space. While I wanted to purchase everything I saw in the store, I ended up leaving empty handed. Everything was of great quality and design and with that came a hefty price tag. This store is definitely catered to a certain demographic, but this was a place I enjoyed and it was a treat to my design eye. If you ever get the chance, visit this beautiful space in Seattle or their New York location!
MY TOTOKAELO WISH LIST
I'm pretty sure if I had the money I would have purchased everything in the store! But because I don't I put together a mini wish list. Everything I chose would work great as a winter outfit or great as separates. Each piece is a basic staple that would be perfect for the Portland lifestyle. Also, if you had no idea what you wanted to gift me for Valentine's Day...here are a few hints!