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I Get A Kick Out of Mule
Elizabeth Powell was a clothing designer who yearned to create leather accessories. Being rather pragmatic, Powell took a job in a shoe-repair shop, where she learned all manner of cobbling essentials. Today, she's turning out handmade kidskin mules. Though the shapes are super-simple, what sets them apart are her whimsical cutouts and rich Renaissance colors (around $165).
AUTO/805 Washington Street/212-229-2292
BARK/369 Atlantic Avenue, near Hoyt Street, Brooklyn/718-625-8997
shì/233 Elizabeth Street/212-334-4330
Until recently recipes merely called for salt, the everyday supermarket kind, but now kosher or sea salt is likely to be specified. One-upping this trend is Sarut, an American importing company, with tiny crates of French sea-salt crystals tarted up with assorted dried spices and herbs. The poultry crystals are laced with bits of rosemary, thyme, sage, and marjoram; ones meant for seafood have fennel, thyme, marjoram, and sage; those for vegetables, parsley, garlic, tarragon, and chervil. And the seaweed crate, a must for Asia buffs, is replete with four varieties of edible algae ($18 for 11 ounces).
ABC CARPET & HOME/888 Broadway, at 19th Street/212-473-3000
In Italy, the Eletta is known as the perfect broom, but this appraisal shouldn't be chalked up to Italian hyperbole. The Elettais made of electrostatic plastic, so it clings to the floor and attracts dust (yet can be wiped clean with a dry sponge). It's also soft and flexible, which means it won't nick your prized end table. The lollipop colors make sweeping fun . . . well, almost ($8; replaceable head, $3).
THE TERENCE CONRAN SHOP/407 East 59th Street/212-755-9079.
The city has recently been invaded by the French -- not by new haute designer types but by little French general stores. The newest, Le Gamin, is an offshoot of Tam and Robert Arbor's popular East and West Village restaurants, and it's filled with all the serving pieces that their customers keep wanting to buy, like the carafes, the oversize café au lait cups, and the Pillivuyt sauceboats and fish platters. But the Arbors' tiny digs offer other temptations, too, the kind of stuff you'd drag home from a trip to Paris: Eiffel Tower candles, Côte Bastide lotions and potions, vintage bistro ashtrays, canned truffles. Most everything is from Paris, the Southwest, or Provence, and from French companies that have been around for over 100 years. (From $2 for a church candle to $20 for a wine glass to $90 for a canvas tote to $190 for a bistro chair.)
Photographs by Joe Scafuro.
LE GAMIN/114 West Houston Street/646-654-6685
First furniture, then fabrics, and now paints seemed a logical progression to interior designer turned shopkeeper Jennifer Mabley. Her new organic-milk-based matte-finished pigments are based on those from the eighteenth century, but more important, they match her silk-fabric collection. And Mabley, ever mindful of decorating disasters, offers four-ounce tester pots so customers can paint a three-foot-square swatch in their living room, bedroom, or dining room, thereby avoiding pesky and costly color mishaps (tester, $9; gallon, $55).
J. MABLEY FABRIC CO./39 N. Moore Street/212-966-5464