The country that gave the world beautifully crafted functional modernism is still very much at the fore. An excellent introduction to Danish design can be found at Illums Bolighus (00 45 33 14 19 14; illumsbolighus.dk), a sprawling temple to Danish and international home-furnishing design. Normann (00 45 35 55 33 59; normann-copenhagen.com) is another not to miss, selling the work of many up-and-coming designers. Those with deep pockets in search of original pieces should head for Dansk Mobelkunst (00 45 33 32 3837; dmk.dk).
Home to the annual Salone de Mobile each April, trendsetting Milan is rapidly becoming to furniture lovers what it has always been to fashionistas. There are design showrooms dotted throughout the city, but the Via Durini is a good place to start, lined with the likes of the slick Cassina (00 39 02 760 207 45; cassina.it) and the nearby Baleri (00 39 02 760 239 54; balieri-italia.com) on via F Cavvallotti, 8. Dovetusai (00 39 02 599 024 32; dovetusai.com), set up by Luigi Rotta and Fabio Cocchi, is another standout store selling its own products and the work of other designers.
An antiques-hunter's dream, Brussels' daily flea market at Place du Jeu de Ball is a must – but get there as soon after its 6am opening time as you can. Brussels is also home to Emery & Cie (00 32 2 513 5892; emeryetcie.com), a favoured address among designerati figures like Ilse Crawford. A shabby-chic and fabulous 17th-century building provides the ideal backdrop to display Agnes Emery's idiosyncratic range of exquisite tiles, fabrics, furniture, rugs, lighting and metalwork in an inspiring palette, most of which are handmade in Morocco and India.
Whether you're after a chair or simply a set of interesting glasses, you are unlikely to leave empty handed from Lafayette Maison (00 33 1 42 82 34 56; galerieslafayette. com), an offshoot of the sprawling department store dedicated to all things for the interior. There is a creaky and distinctly Dickensian feel to Astier de Villatte (00 33 1 42 60 74 13; astierdevillatte), but its location on the rue Saint-Honoré goes some way to explaining its popularity among those in the know. This quirky shop sells highly covetable all-white ceramics based on 17th and 18th century shapes, sure to cause some table-envy back home.
Sweden's illustrious and innovative design heritage extends beyond the ubiquitous four-letter behemoth. Design House Stockholm (00 46 8 509 08 113; designhousestockholm.com) was established to put the spotlight on emerging Swedish design talent and with successes like Harri Koskinen's Block Light, it has established itself as one of the city's best lifestyle stores. Design Torget (00 46 8 21 91 50; designtorget.se) has several outlets in a city chock-full of an ever-changing array of products from some of Sweden's newest designers.
The Netherlands is currently home to some of the wittiest and talented designers around. Droog Design 7b (00 31 20 523 5059; droog.com) is one of the most innovative, giving debuts to works that have gone on to be phenomenally successful, like Rudy Grauman's 85 Bulb chandelier. Shop from its collection and other cherry-picked items at its headquarters in a 17th-century building in the heart of Amsterdam. Don't miss the newly opened Moooi Gallery, Westerstaraat 187 (00 31 20 528 7760; moooi-gallery.com), either, where you can pick up the likes of Marcel Wanders' limited collection of blue Delft vases, as well as viewing temporary exhibitions and installations.
At the turn of the 20th century, Barcelona was at the heart of the modern art scene and it still offers countless addresses dedicated to design. Since it opened its doors in 1934, Vinçon (00 34 93 215 6050; vincon.com) has pioneered both Spanish and International designers at its flagship store on the Passeig de Gràcia. Now with several shops in one dedicated to all things house-related, the next-door Sala Vinçon also acts as an exhibition space for temporary shows of graphic and industrial design.
London offers endless possibilities for the design shopper. Established & Sons (020-7608 0990; establishedandsons. com) was set up to promote and champion the talent of UK designers and manufacturers like Alexander Taylor and Jasper Morrison, but also collaborates with international designers for its interiors collections. David Mellor (see feature, page 12) is still one of the most influential British design companies, and its cutlery designs have become much lusted-after. Visit the Sloane Square shop (020-7730 4259; davidmellordesign.com), which has been going since the 1960s for beautiful but functional tableware, glasses and kitchen utensils.
The Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was one of international modernism's most influential figures and his trailblazing spirit still lives on in the capital, Helsinki. Its self-styled design district (designdistrict.fi) is a good place to start, crammed full of galleries, furniture shops and boutiques. As well as emerging talent, among its streets you can also find the flagship stores of Finnish design heavyweights like Marimekko (00 358 9 622 2317; marimekko.com) and the acclaimed Iittala (00 358 9 204 393501; iitala.com). Artek (00 358 9 613 25277; artek.fi), which was founded in 1935 to distribute Alvar Aalto's furniture, is another worthwhile stop.
L'Ile sur Le Sorgue
There can be few more picturesque places to hunt for antiques than the French town of L'Ile sur Le Sorgue, 30km outside the Provencal city of Avignon. Set on an island surrounded by the waters of the river Sorgue, its annual antiques fair that takes place over the Easter weekend is the biggest draw and attracts hundreds of dealers, as well as thousands of interested buyers from all over the world. But even if you miss the fair, there are markets almost every Sunday and numerous antique shops lining its pretty streets.Reuse content