A lot of shops offer handmade goods, but it’s a pretty rare thing for the artists’ studio to be located right in the shop along with the merchandise. Like an open-kitchen restaurant whose culinary goings-on are visible to the patrons as they eat, Noon Design Shop lets you see where and how the items you’re browsing are made and interact with the artists who make them.
On a sunny morning, co-owner Nora Alexander gleefully tells me about Noon’s newest location in Pawtuxet Village. It’s located on a central triangle where Narragansett Parkway and Post Road come together just before the bridge over the Pawtuxet River, giving it an excellent vantage point of the pleasant scenery. Nora is the jewelry designer, and owns the store with her best friend Maie Webb, who does the graphic designs for the paper goods, prints and stationery as well as the candles, perfumes and gift packaging. The two met at RISD and moved to San Diego after graduating, opening the first Noon location there in 2009. They then each opened stores in their respective hometowns, Nora three years ago in downtown Providence and Maie in Bay Head, New Jersey, a year after that. They needed to switch buildings and found this charming Pawtuxet Village location, which opened in early April, right down the street from where Nora grew up.
Everything in the store – from the merchandise for sale to the signs and packaging – is either made by Nora, Maie or other American designers and artists they work with. There are products that are locally made but not by the Noon designers, like chic tea towels made in East Providence and honey and lip balm from Rhode Island. The perfumes are made in the Jersey shop and the body products are made in the San Diego shop. Noon and its products have a really cute, earthy feel. It’s full of deliciously aromatic soaps, scrubs, candles and body products, and glassware, tea towels and stationery with delightful seashell and sea creature motifs. Nora’s jewelry takes a lot of its inspiration from nature as well – her jewelry mostly features colorful gemstone stud earrings and pendant necklaces. The vibe is definitely simple, timeless and elegant. And you can feel great about it because everything’s natural, handmade and you know exactly where it comes from.
Nora talks about how much she loves having her studio right on the retail floor. The previous Providence location was two floors, with Nora’s studio upstairs and the retail on the ground floor. She longed to be able to interact more easily with the customers. “That was something that I was kind of missing from the Providence shop, because no one could go upstairs. I’d come down and I’d help people but a lot of the things we do are custom,” she explains, so having her artists’ studio so removed from the customers made the process of custom orders a little more difficult. Nora explains that within the established style realm of Noon you can order your own custom merchandise, mostly for custom bridal jewelry orders. “People want to be able to see what’s going on, like, ‘Can I get that in a different shade of blue?’ or ‘Can we make the ear wire shorter?’ And we can do that.”
You can check out all the fun kinds of things Noon has for sale by visiting their website or following them on Instagram, but there really is no replacement for popping in person, especially when you have the opportunity to see where your jewelry is made and even watch it happen.
Noon Design Shop
18 Post Road, Warwick