engage magazine issue 001 spring \'06 - Page 57

REAL LIFES 57 Regular Feature Just a selection of the beautiful art available at Girtannerhause Objet D’art in Mayfair She describes a situation when a customer asked for a large vase that could hold her kitchen utensils. The vase was made especially for her but a month later they [Girtannerhause] began to sell kitchen utensil holders. The ceramics in the shop are handmade and hand painted shaped from red clay, found in the north of Italy, with up to 180 designs to choose from. Denise said: “We believe a lot in functional art, meaning things that can be used. For example, paintings are downsized and framed so that you can use them as a tray.” But not all of the shop’s artefacts are imported from Italy. Denise also sells British artists’ work and meets frequently with British artists. “In the first year I only kept the Girtannerhause range. As a franchise you’re supposed to, but then I realised I could be flexible. I have some sculptures in the shop from a lady based in south London and some jewellery from other local artists as well. “I meet the artists here in the UK regularly. I look at their new work which they give me either as images on paper or through email so that I can then decide what objects I would like to have sent over to me to sell.” She described her bestseller, an insulated expresso coffee cup and saucer that sells for £59 as a typical example. A couple of the business challenges that Denise has faced is the high business rates due to her location in Mayfair and also the colour of her skin. “As a Black woman running a business in this part of town - I find customers are genuinely surprised to learn that this is my business and I am not in fact just the sales assistant.” The future for Girtannerhause certainly looks promising. The shop has been advertised as a gallery space for artists who want to exhibit their work - and is something that Denise feels will be able to help her achieve a better work-life balance. “The plan I have is to just keep going and push with the gallery idea because it will give me the ability to still keep the shop and not be here all the time,” Denise said. “My idea is to be more at home with the children but still have the business. I want to find the balance between the two and believe I can do it.” www.girtannerhause.co.uk Girtannerhause Objet D’art, 21 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London, W1J 7PN. Tel no: 020 7493 7774 SPRING ISSUE 2006 engage