I am a little bit obsessed with shopping and the history of shops and a lot obsessed with books. So finding an old book about a shop rings my bell. Big time.
I remember visiting the Illum department store in Copenhagen when I was there a few years ago. I didn’t remember I had a book about the place until I returned home. Illum – The Quality Store is one of those fading acidic cardboard books that always seem to be in the 50p – £1 boxes in bookshops. At least in the bookshops I go in. These uncategorised books always seem to be a bit watermarked and curling, dog-eared and faded. But – as Emily to Bagpuss – I love them even more for their ragged appearance.
The modern day Illum I visited was a very glam shop indeed. Really interesting interior design. Great open layout, interesting stock, sharp branding. In fact, one of the nicest department stores I have been in. And I have been in a lot.
The Illum of the past, as pictured in this book, looked equally glam. But in a different way. Intended for the potential stockist rather than potential shopper, this little book modestly claims: ‘If you want to sell to Denmark – sell to Illum.’
The book has very nice illustrations of the various departments in the shop. The hosiery department pictured here looks spacious and well stocked. What wouldn’t I give to be shopping in there?
As illustrations go, these are good ones. Someone (not credited) had a really light touch with pen and ink. And few washes of colour printed on top perks up the whole thing. The characterisation is spot on too. It makes me think the illustrator spent some time in the shop. Sketching women shopping, being sold to. Sketching the merchandise, the display cases. Sketching socks.