Colombo shopping guide: Paradise Road
One of my top 5 places in the Essential Colombo Shopping Guide is the flagship store of Paradise Road in the Viharamahadevi Park North shopping district. It’s more than just another Colombo shop. Paradise Road is a Sri Lankan destination frequented by locals and tourists alike – a testimony to the originality of the store’s concept.
It’s founder and doyen of Sri Lankan design, Shanth Fernando, had succeeded in producing a haven of Sri Lankan textiles and ceramics which took elements of Sri Lankan motif or craft and creatively reinvented it with a pared back minimalism of blacks, whites, beiges and greys. It’s almost as if Mr Fernando took his cue from the great Geoffrey Bawa himself, who preferred graphic black and white accented interior design. And it seems to be no coincidence that Geoffrey Bawa’s former offices are now The Gallery Café, one of Colombo’s foremost restaurants (see Colombo 3 South shopping district), also owned by The Paradise Road family who have decorated it in their trademark style.
Mr Fernando’s idea that strong colours should be relatively absent from interiors to allow for the colours and textures of objects and artwork to shine through is still revolutionary in a country otherwise emblazoned with hues of saffron oranges, padparadscha pinks and peacock blues.
In this store you will find their signature black and beige patterned batik textiles, bold black and white or blue and white patterned ceramics, hand-made leather bound journals, hand painted door stoppers depicting Sri Lankan characters, elegantly gift-packed Sri Lankan teas, chutneys and spices, linen tea towels through to ceramics stamped with a vintage-style black elephant (another signature motif), candles and candle-holders, monochromatic Sinhala-alphabet printed canvas bags and cushion covers, platters and glassware to name just a very few. This is also not to mention the contemporary design garden-ware sculpted in concrete (and sometimes granite). Pretty much any homewares or lifestyle product that you could imagine is available here in a uniquely Paradise Road style.
The store itself is set in a colonial mansion having two levels and multiple rooms, designed for you to spend time discovering its wares as if you were exploring the nooks and crannies of Aladdin’s cave. And the best part is that they will expertly pack your goods using bubble-wrap – a bonus for tourists who need to hit the road.
I dare you to leave Paradise Road without making a purchase.