Sydney shopping Dinosaur Designs Blue range bangles

Unique Sydney shopping | Retail therapy | Sydney mementos

Brainy and cheeky. Witty and inventive. Always smoking hot.

Whether the mission is memento, marking a milestone, last-minute gift or an “I deserve it” pick-me-up, these unique Sydney shops won’t let you down.

Iconic Paddington store Opus reopened it doors recently after a relocation a few doors up Oxford Street and a $5 million refurb. It’s still painted green, although the 2015 version is more of a broad bean green, which the Dulux colour charts call Molly Robbins.

It’s a happy place to shop – colourful, fresh, friendly – and full of what owner Chris Tourgelis calls “happy toys”.

Tourgelis, 43, whose father, Tass, opened the bohemian gift and homewares store in the hippie-hippie-shake year of 1968, has always focused on the customers’ experience of shopping, more than simply the products. He likes activity, music, and merchandise with magnetism. When he buys stock, he says,  “I’ve got to feel it, it has to talk to me. If it doesn’t have its own personality, I don’t bother.”

Opus Paddington Sydney shop cookbooks interior books ornaments bohemia

Paddington’s revamped gift shop emporium, Opus, pops with colour.

Indeed, walk in and you feel the sun has just burst through dark clouds. It’s a voyage around primary colours, a destination famous for cards and paraphernalia that pops – things you don’t know you want until you see them.

Impressive and more-ish are the goods in the children’s corner – quality toys, books, blankets and games: things that are less mainstream and more under-the-radar cool.

There are must-have homewares and ornaments, and cooking and entertaining accoutrements from Alessi, MOMA, Oria Kiely, Jonathan Adler, Kate Spade, and limited edition prints from artists of the moment such as Prudence Caroline, Rowena Martinich and Lisa Lapointe.

Opus Paddington Sydney shopping reopening quirky homewares

Boutique skin care potions, limited edition prints, rugs, jugs. and quirky found objects at Opus.

There’s a curated section of lifestyle books, rugs from Cadry’s and Bayliss, candles, boutique skin care ranges (like New Zealand’s Triumph and Disaster), one-off pieces of furniture and quirky ornaments like the handmade tin spitfire table centrepiece for $865.

Opus remains the go-to place for cards for all occasions.

354 Oxford Street, Paddington. Open  Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm (Thursday to 7.30); Sunday 11am to 5pm. (02) 9360 4803;

Afterwards eat at: La Scala in Jersey Road, above the Light Brigade hotel, where if you are lucky you might coincide with a midweek special of truffled gnocchi or prawn and crab linguine with a glass of wine for $30.

Other Sydney shops to get lost in….

Dinosaur Designs 

There’s no better memento of Australia than a punchy resin artwork from homeware wizard Louise Olsen, daughter of the legendary Australian painter John Olsen, and her husband Stephen Ormandy.

Whether a vase, jug, platter, uniquely shaped bowl, salad servers, side tables or bangles, statement neckpieces and rings, the colours, marbling, swirls and tactile heft of each and every Dinosaur Designs piece is thrilling and evokes the Oz aesthetic. Olsen’s signature silver is stirling, too.

Dinosaur Designs Blue salad bowl and servers Sydney shopping Australiana

Possibly the most perfect Australian memento? A Dinosaur Designs salad bowl and servers. Here, from the 2015 Blue range.

The range launched globally earlier this year was called, simply, Blue, an exploration of tonalities and hues, from early morning skies to warm, dusky, twilight to inky night blues (see the bangles of our opener). Accents of brass and gold complement the palette, and blue agates were re-introduced as a highlight in both the homewares and jewellery ranges. Says Louise Olsen, “This collection is very much about colour and how each is mixed by hand to find that unexpected shade of blue or that unexpected shade of ivory which we mix together to create oceanic swirls.”

The Excess All Areas shelves reflect a long love affair with Dinosaur Designs resin – there are salad bowls in marbled cream, and stripey hot orange and navy; tiny dishes for salt in myriad colours with matching spoons; turquoise cream jugs; cream platters with dalmation-like markings; black salad servers; tall dusky red specimen vases; and wide flat tortoiseshell dishes that look like polished wood. You can never have enough.


Shop 77, The Strand Arcade, Sydney; (02) 9223 2953; 339 Oxford Street Paddington, (02) 9361 3776. There are boutiques in Melbourne, Brisbane, New York, and a new one at the Ham Yard Hotel in London.

Afterwards eat at: Pendolino, where it’s hard to go past the four cheese ravioli.


Macleay on Manning

Run by Jill and Rod Ordish, who are as idiosyncratic as their shop, this is where want triumphs over need. Another Missoni towel, picnic rug or bathrobe? Go on, you know you want it! There’s Paul Smith this and Paul Smith that; Fornasetti in all its in-your-face glory; Limoges porcelain in exquisite gelato shades; crystal and silver statement jewellery; Lubin, Robert Piguet, and Hermes perfumes; Tom Dixon and Voluspa candles; one-off soft toys and clothing for babies; unique homewares.

Macleay on Manning is renowned for its window display: there’s always a cluster of admirers in front of it.

Shop 1, 85 Macleay Street, Potts Point. Open Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm; Saturday, 9.30am to 6pm; Sunday, 10.30am to 4pm. (02) 9331 4100.

Afterwards eat at: Bourke Street Bakery, where the big choice is between a ginger creme brûlée tart and a lamb and harissa sausage roll.


Becker Minty

Becker Minty keeps an eye out for artisanal Australian gems: Kerry Armstrong artwork, Julie Balla photography, Susie Stenmark jewellery, AVGVS (pronounced “August” without the t) leather totes and clutches, Aurelio Costarella threads (a friend was so taken by a full-length Costarella cream silk Grecian sheath she bought it as her wedding dress), along with Danish silver, elegant estate jewellery, cufflinks, candles the size of buckets, unusual boxes and luscious storage ideas.


Becker Minty Sydney shopping great finds homewares eclectica

Becker Minty boasts an eclectic mix of homewares, art, fashion and jewellery.

Shop 7, Ikon building, 81 Macleay Street (enter via Manning Street). Open Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 6pm; Sunday ,10.30am to 5pm. (02) 8356 9999.

Afterwards eat at: Zinc, where retro breakfasts include corned beef hash, savoury mince with a fried egg, and smoked trout kedgeree.


Potts Point Bookstore

No book store makes you want to scoop up armloads of books like Potts Point Bookstore. The compact size makes browsing fruitful rather than daunting. Stock up on new hardbacks, literary best-sellers, biographies, memoirs, glamorous recipe books, city guides and inspirational travel books, art, fashion and glorious garden tomes, a fantastic array of children’s books, and cards (New Yorker cartoon cards a speciality). Staff know their stuff, as well as the difference between help and hover. Nice gift-wrapping, too.

14 Macleay Street, Potts Point. Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 7pm; Sunday, 10am to 5pm; public holidays, 10am to 4pm. (02) 9331 6642.

Afterwards eat at: Yellow, where the coconut spelt porridge with quince and honey is whatever meal you want it to be.



If you are a man about town with an event to dress for, this luxurious emporium is the bomb. Harrolds has everything from classic tailoring to shirts, sneakers and cool-for-cats ensembles from the likes of Brioni, Maison Martin Margiela, Tom Ford, Kenzo, Thom Browne, Balmain…..There’s Harrolds Women, too.

Westfield, Level 4, 188 Pitt Street, CBD. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6.30pm (Thursdays till 9pm); Sunday, 10am to 6pm. (Stores also in Melbourne, at 101 Collins Street and Crown Melbourne.) (02) 9232 8399.

Afterwards eat at: The Ladurée tea-room, where you can plump it up with French macarons.

Blue Spinach

Housed in a vibrant blue terrace on the corner of Liverpool and Waratah Streets in East Sydney, this is shrine to pre-loved prestige labels, here on consignment. Jane and Mark Thompson know their luxury goods and only accept the real and the immaculate.

Blue Spinach Sydney shopping designer threads vintage luxe on consignment

Blue Spinach for red-hot wow factor: designer threads on consignment. Photo Jane Thompson

Go in, go hard. Gucci clutch, Dior tote, Bulgari sunglasses, Haider Ackermann tuxedo, Balenciaga coat, Louis Vuitton wallet, Marni earrings, Jimmy Choo stilettos, you name it. Most ‘as new’. Blue Spinach is the lucky dip for dilettantes.

348 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm (Thursdays till 7); Sunday, 11am to 4pm. (02) 9331 3904.  

Afterwards eat at: Bills, where people holding Sydney guides still queue for the ricotta hotcakes, banana and honeycomb butter or sweetcorn fritters with bacon and avocado salsa.

What’s your favourite shop? Why does it resonate?




Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab.

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