Reading Time: 3 min
Dubbed ‘The Modern Wunderkammer’, Eastern Biological has brought a new kind of curiosity shop to Hackney Road.
485 Hackney Road
There’s a wonderful influx of indoor foliage in East London right now, whether it adorns the coffee shops of Bethnal Green Road, or bursts from the doors and windows of the many plant shops of the borough, it’s clear that there’s a lust for all things nature in the midst of rainy grey London.
Enter Eastern Biological, a store that bucks this trend in a celebration of all things natural history: imagine the inside of David Attenborough’s mind, but somehow greener. The first of its kind, the concept shop was born from its founder’s desire to see the kind of natural history gift-shops you see in museums as a self-sufficient institution.
Dubbed the modern ‘wunderkammer’ - a German term to describe a Victorian era cabinet of curiosities - there is definitely an ‘all things weird and wonderful’ vibe to Eastern Biological; a downstairs dedicated to space, dozens of creatures decorating the shelves and, until very recently, a real-life chameleon living in its green walls.
“Imagine the inside of David Attenborough’s mind, except somehow greener.”
We’re the only people in the store when we visit and take refuge from the rain in a real-life rain-forest, a space inspired by the famous Galapagos Islands that Charles Darwin write his iconic work ‘On The Origin of Species’. Much like Darwin probably felt when he researched for his work in the 1830s, there’s an intimate feeling of being watching, except for the customer, it takes the form of the hundreds of painted eyes watching your every move from the prints, paper, books, toys, badges and anything else the modern wunderkammer contains.
Downstairs tells the story that unfolds on the edge of the island, the so-called ‘Blue Zone’ serves as a portrayal of everything sea-life and beyond, extending its reach into the cosmos with astronomical curios aplenty.
There’s a humble respect for independent creatives, writers and businesses, a mantra that’s typical of the area (and one we’re very happy to practise ourselves), with a sign asking to avert cameras from its bookshelf to protect the custom of the independant shop and keep the carefully curated collection a secret until discovered by the next intrepid Hackney-based explorer.
Born from a series of successful pop-ups, Eastern Biological went from strength to strength when the doors of its brick and mortar store opened two years ago. And with plans to expand into events in the future, we can’t wait for the green fingers of Eastern Biological to spread their roots deeper into the East London community, now that they’re here for good.
Words + Images : Hannah Crosbie