Mark Bibby Jackson reviews London Shopfronts with illustrations by Joel Holland and words by Rosie Hewitson, as well as a foreword by Asma Khan published by Prestel.

London Shopfronts

I was brought up learning the key to travelling around London was to look up. Ignore the shopfronts was the message – the beauty of London’s architecture lies in its upper stories.

London Shopfronts challenges that golden rule, celebrating the beauty of the many shops dotted around the UK capital from ground up.

The book is a natural progression from Joel Holland’s previous work NYC Shopfronts, which evolved during lockdown when the illustrator was barred from visiting many of his favourite places.

Now, working with Time Out journalist Rosie Hewitson, he has replicated the successful formula across the Pond.

London Shopfronts
Bethnal Green Men’s Working Club © Joel Holland, 2023

London Shopfronts features over 200 drawings and descriptions capturing the essence of many of London’s most famous shopfronts, such as Hamleys and Fortnum & Mason, as well as less well-known gems including the Peckhamplex cinema.

The book spans the full range of the capital’s streetscape from tattoo parlours to florists and bookshops, as well as restaurants including Darjeeling Express, whose creator Asma Khan has written a foreword to the book.

This is a beautiful creation, which doubles up as both an intriguing addition to any coffee table as well as an inspiration to explore London anew.

Divided into five geographical sections – Central, North, South, East and West – each with an illustrated map to guide you to your chosen shopfront, this is an easy book to navigate. There is even an index at the back to shortcut you to a specific place.

This is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who is fascinated with the wonderful eclecticism of the London streetscape or someone new to London. It certainly has introduced many a possibility to this London old hand. Also, by opting for an illustrative rather than photographic approach it has presented London in a new light.

London Shopfronts is a very welcome addition to the many books written about the many fascinating places to visit in London.

About Joel Holland

Joel Holland - photo by Maxwell Schiano
Joel Holland – photo by Maxwell Schiano

Joel is based in New York. His illustrations have featured in The Guardian, The New York Times and across the world.

Rosie Hewitson

Rosie is Time Out London’s Events Editor and has written for The Guardian, The Independent, VICE, British Vogue, and Metro.

London Shopfronts

London ShopfrontsWith illustrations by Joel Holland and words by Rosie Hewitson, London Shopfronts is published by Prestel. It costs £19.99.

Main image: The Old curiosity Shop Square