One of those impossibly tiny shops specializing in a little bit of this and that, Top Hat, on the Lower East Side, stands out because each of its choices is surprising and delightful.
Top Hat is the public face of Nina Allen's wholesale company Sweet Bella, which is the exclusive U.S. distributor for a far-ranging group of finds, such as the original Japanese rice paper tape, brushes made by Berlin's Institute for the Blind, pushpins and paperclips by Milan's Mondial Lus, and Japanese balloon lamps.
Above: A sign made from scrap wood marks the shop at 245 Broome Street, between Orchard and Ludlow.
Above: In the window: minimalist rocking horses of ash and stainless steel by Germany company Sirch.
Above: Gold and nickel-plated stainless steel scissors from Germany; $65 to $100.
Above: Polish wobble dolls, $55 (large) and $24 (small), on a vintage wallpaper table. Under the table is an Indian powder-coated metal trunk. The cotton map blanket is Austrian; $180. The children's walking toy hanging on the wall is made from real horseshoes.
Above: A notebook by French designer Patricia Dore scattered with erasers from the Czech Republic.
Above: Kaweco of Nuremberg, Germany, has been making pens since 1833. This example, a design that dates to the 1930s, rests on notebooks from South Korea and an Italian plaid-wool iPad case. The rice paper tape is by Kamoi Kakoshi.
Above: Top Hat recently debuted furniture by Irish designers Aodh, including a rocker ($775 plus additional charge for upholstery) with a seat of vegetable-dyed Irish tweed. It rests on a reversible indoor/outdoor plastic rug, $210, from Brita Sweden, produced using Swedish weaving traditions. The pink-and-white wool throw, $335, is by Danish designers Scholten & Baijings.