As London’s Chelsea Design Week comes to a close this weekend, I am opening my stylist’s notebook (a closely guarded document – mined with more tripwires than the vaults at ‘The River House’ – aka MI6!) to share some of the beautiful designs showcased for 2016.
Chelsea Design Centre
116 showrooms, 600 brands – this is a world-class show of what London – powerhouse capital of design has to share for 2016. Chelsea Design Centre at the end of Lots Road in Fulham is the showcase for the best in British and European decorative wallpaper, fabric and furniture design. With the exception of a few mid-priced ranges, this is interior design at its most luxurious.
To compare the Chelsea Design Centre to a shopping centre would do it a bit of an injustice but in architectural terms there are a few physical similarities, lots of walkways, a few cafes but seriously, that is where it ends… There is floor after floor of exquisite lighting, fabric, furniture and wallpaper showrooms.
This haute couture ball gown in the main hall was made by paper cut artist Zoe Bradley to promote the show. It did the trick as it has been instagrammed many times over.
In pursuit of the latest and greatest, I have walked up and down the different levels of both North and South domes, poked my nose into showroom after showroom, sighed at floor length metres of beautiful fabrics, dreamt of features to style, schemes to design, taken notes and far too many photos.
People travel far and wide to come to the show which is open to press and trade for the first few days and then the public for the rest of the week. In fact, if I am honest, I love ‘people watching’ as much as the show. Interior decorators/designers are a well turned out bunch – as well you might expect.
Oh and just as an aside, there seems to be a showroom version of ‘war of the roses’ going on as to who has the best floral display. Each one more gorgeous than the last!
As with any art form such as ballet, opera, music and sport – I am in awe of the skill and years of devotion that have taken place, often since that person was a child.
I was taken round the Pierre Frey showroom by one such person who I have known since we were at school. While I was messing around in the pottery room (high above the clouds in a water tower) my friend Helen clapped eyes on a traditional wooden loom. Aged 14, Helen knew what she wanted to do. How many people do at that age, and then actually fulfil their ambition?
Helen is now Pierre Frey’s showroom Manager and was the only person in the school art department to take up weaving and work out how this ancient piece of machinery actually worked. After leaving The Central School of Art, Helen moved to Bradford to design Hield Brothers’ first furnishing collection, she went on to design countless woven collections for Warner Fabrics as well as heading up Marketing and Design for textile firm Parry Murray.
Clearly, I am proud of my friend but the ‘back offices’ of Chelsea Design Centre showrooms are full of very talented people who really know their stuff. The various companies hold so much decorative history too. Companies such as Le Manach (18th Century) at Pierre Frey or Watts of Westminster (19th Century) both go way back and have archives to prove it.
Here are a few highlights of things I spotted:
Five key looks from Chelsea Design Centre 2016:
1. Art Deco moodboard
Metallics and Art Deco inspired collections are at several showrooms including G P and J Baker, Cole and Son, JAB Anstoetz and Pierre Frey. The blue colourways in Pierre Frey’s ‘Charleston’ collection are a fresh take on Art Deco designs.
2. Coral crush moodboard
Coral is a softer colour than red and not so obvious as pink. I love the summery Coral seafern inspired wallpapers from Cole and Son’s new Curio collection and the embroidered fabrics from G P & J Baker’s Langdale collection which are traditional without being stuffy. Davidson’s mirror and buttoned chairs show how you can accent a room with colour by way of accessories and furniture.
3. Bone china lighting
Original BTC’s ‘Cranton’ range of dramatic pendent lights is made from overlapping hexagonal bone china shapes. One lamp is called ‘Oval’ and the other is called ‘Hexagonal’. These designs make an exciting addition to BTC’s existing ‘Pembridge’ circular range.
4. Mirror fashion
Right now, the fashion for mirrors is round and preferably as large as possible. However, this elliptical shaped mirror by Porada takes that a stage further and is one I couldn’t take my eyes off. The surround is made from Canaletta Walnut and I reckon this mirror would sit comfortably in many different decorating schemes.
5. Desert moodboard
Pierre Frey’s ‘Maya’ collection is a South American travel inspired range of coordinating bright coloured wall coverings and fabrics. Included in the collection are weaves and prints in hot pinks, limes, blues, corals and mustard yellows. The cactus design wall covering (bottom left) is printed with a painted watercolour effect which is incredibly realistic.
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