The Land of Milk & Honey

On The Town | Annabelle Silva | November 2011

As you turn off Mariahilferstraße onto Zollergasse, the graffiti-style sign pops into sight, garish against the spray-painted forest that covers the traditional Austrian façade.  This spectacle made me chuckle, and I ventured inside. The laid-back reggae music and the heat of the summer unexpectedly created a sudden illusion of the Caribbean – a holiday mood, and license to live a little.

Far from being a mere novelty shop, Milk & Honey redefines the concept of specialty retailing with products as unique as they are durable and useful.  In a city of coffee houses, antique shops and clothing stores, this is a visual playground of the wondrous and the witty, a small paradise for the imagination.

Opened in the early 2000s by George Hoffman and Hannes Raditz, Milk & Honey captivates the curious, seducing people of all ages with a humorous array of flamboyant trinkets and wacky gadgetry. The range of products includes footwear, clothes, kitchenware, gardening tools, jewellery, office items, wallets, cigarette cases; the diversity is seemingly endless.

I decided to test if "novelty" equaled low quality, and started with some funky clogs, which turned out to be Alegria Shoes, the U.S. brand known for fusing an orthopaedic structure with unconventional designs. These comfortable shoes are created to tone leg muscles and are offered in metallic finishes and shades of leather. There’s even a pair that look as though they’ve been doodled on.

Onward to the kitchenware. Aha! The French brand Pylones is famous for its skillful combination of vibrant styles with practicality – a customer favourite. Who wouldn’t love a housewarming gift in the form of a stylish statuette, whose long, metallic dress is a practical stainless steel dicer? Or a fluorescent-green crocodile whose head happens to be the blade of the cake knife?

And that bright paperweight shaped like a bird, magnetized so that paper clips resemble its feathers would add a bit of cheer to any workspace. What look like fairytale figurines turn out to be a gardening shovel and rake. For kids (or the young at heart) there is a bendable desk lamp in psychedelic tones. For Italo-urban gents, a chromed Vespa keychain with movable wheels and handlebar. And for those trying to retrench, what better way than by filling a charming blue piggy bank, the size of your hand, or for more savings, one in beige, the size of a mountaineer’s backpack.

After choosing that unique item, you may want to relax over some crunchy Vietnamese spring rolls at the nearby SAPA Experience, or kick back with a kleiner Brauner at the neighbouring Europa, Lager.

Milk & Honey is the place to find the perfect non-traditional gift that no one would buy for herself but would love having and showing off. It is also the place to rediscover the child inside, and take home part of the fun.

These may be things you never knew existed, but once found, you wonder where they’ve been. Genius design meets high quality at every turn. Happy shopping!

Milk & Honey

17., Zollergasse 16, (01) 923 93 99

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