Hamptons tastemaker Tiina Laakkonen talks Picky Nicky through her favourite things
Six years after opening Tiina the Store in Amagansett in the Hamptons, Tiina Laakkonen is adding an extra 100 sq m of retail space. Completing just in time for the summer, the newly constructed clapperboard barn, with a raised seam zinc roof, sits out the back of her painted veranda-fronted shop housed in a building dating from the 1800s.
Most retailers faced with a 66 per cent increase in floor space would order more merchandise to sell. But not Laakkonen. Instead she is relishing the opportunity to give her expertly curated stock more space. Instead of maximising sales per sq m, like most number-focused businesses, Laakkonen has chosen to focus on display and improving the environment, allowing her to create a better experience for her clients. The product gets to breathe more, and Laakkonen gets to be all obsessive about the customer experience, how they enter and move around. There’s also a dedicated area where people can gather and sit during their visits.
Faye Toogood was commissioned to design bespoke display elements, which are mixed with vintage furniture from Finland. The design of the new build and interior has been overseen by Laakkonen and her husband Jon Rosen, together with local architect Blaze Makoid. The pair, who are very picky about lighting, collaborated with lighting designer Heather Libonati, whose work for the Shulamit Nazarian gallery in LA they first spotted in Wallpaper. And – just so you get quite how picky they are – Rosen, who has a background in photography post-production, set up a testing centre in the basement of their home to try out all the options with products. So you will never look better than in one of Laakkonen’s new fitting rooms.
What makes Tiina the Store so unique, and earns Laakkonen the top tastemaker award in the picked-by-Nicky list, is that, rather than focusing on what she sees as ubiquitous ‘fast luxury’, a ‘tired concept’ that she rejects outright, she looks instead to makers rather than brands, and for objects and pieces she believes have real value, integrity and longevity. I see her in Paris during fashion week but not at the shows or big brand showrooms – she’s not interested in all that marketing and gloss. Instead, she uses her curiosity, honed over years as a stylist and fashion editor, to search out ‘beautifully crafted pieces made by real people who combine contemporary design with traditional artisanal skill’. She has the guts, taste and experience to do that exceptionally well. I call this ordering off menu, and sometimes it’s the only way to do it.
A few of Tiina’s favourite things
Cashmere knits by LA-based brand The Elder Statesman
Clothing by Tokyo label Arts & Science
Tailoring by Bergfabel from South Tyrol
Denis Colomb’s soft cashmere homewares, woven in Nepal
Shirtdresses and tunics by Indian brand Péro
Traditional shibori-dyed knitwear by Suzusan from Arimatsu, Japan
Lena Rewell’s colourful mohair blankets, handwoven in Finland
Sandals by Álvaro, crafted in Florence
Isaac Reina’s leather goods, made in Paris
Scarves by Scottish brand Begg & Co
Workwear by London-based brand Toogood
Jewellery by New York-based designer Maria Beaulieu