HIGHLIGHTS OF LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL – FOCUS/17
It’s undeniable that the month of September is a generous provider. Now, I’m not only talking about the shiny, new looks and cutting-edge trends on offer (more on this here), or the fact that the school bell has called time on the summer holidays. No – moreover than that – London Design Festival is in full swing this week and it has certainly kept me busy with its fabulous offerings!
Coffee on-the-go and trusted flats for endurance are essentials during the London Design Festival…
Following the enormous fash-pack influx for London Fashion Week, the city maintains a magnetic pull with its current showcase of interior trailblazers, design industry leaders and exciting events aplenty for London Design Festival (LDF).
I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of shows and attractions across town – one of the reasons that I’ve been a little quiet on the blog-front. This busy schedule has given me added enthusiasm for the new season (along with less enthused eye-bags) and I want to share my highlights with you. I’m kicking off today with my overview of Focus/17 at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour.
Gorgeous flowers by Tony Marklew set the tone for Focus/17 at DCCH
FOCUS/17 – 360 DEGREE DESIGN VISION
I attended the trade preview days (17th – 19th September) of Focus/17 and left feeling truly inspired.
The theme this year – 360 Degree Design Vision – encouraged the opportunity for participants to connect with the innovators and makers behind leading brands and industry front-runners. I really felt the Design Centre to be a hub of excitement and creative exchange – where visitors from all aspects of the design world were encouraged to ask questions and connect with the concepts and processes behind the beauty on show.
Coffee and catalogues (or in this case, the event programme) for Focus/17 at DCCH
Focus/17 (running this year between 17th – 22nd September) unites the design world at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour (DCCH). This fabulous venue is somewhere I frequent regularly as a designer and it was fantastic to visit during such a special time in the creative calendar.
During the event, showrooms were a hive of activity, with collaborations and inspiration rife. Designers and skilled artisans took visitors behind the scenes; sharing their latest innovations, ideas and processes. Participants were invited to delve to the very core of the brands and offered new insights and feedback themselves, in the spirit of ‘360 degree design vision’. The overarching enthusiasm for sharing ideas and good practice really made the event extra special.
Chelsea has built a reputation as London’s interior design epicentre. It also is the location of the impressive Design Centre, which is home to 600+ leading international brands, offering a dynamic collective unseen anywhere else in the world. A real go-to destination for industry professionals, it is also open to retail visitors who want to step beyond the high-street, gather inspiration and shop higher-end. Focus/17 DCCH
A dynamic and immersive six-day event, global creative talent was showcased in an elegant, sophisticated setting at Focus/17. I thoroughly enjoyed and engaged with the breadth of activities and workshops on offer – from inspiring talks with international speakers, glamorous showroom receptions and tours to awe inspiring demonstrations by skilled artisans and industry leader insights.
I cannot simply begin to cover everything in this post alone but I do intend to scratch the surface and share my personal highlights of the event. As always, I will discuss emerging need-to-know trends alongside cutting-edge processes and rich, cultural influences that I took away with me.
This striking and sculptural floral display by Tony Marklew makes a beautiful statement in the central atrium at DCCH for Focus/17
FOCUS/17 – BACK TO THE FUTURE TALK
One of my favourite aspects of the entire event was the ‘Back to the Future’ talk, hosted by textile gurus Evitavonni and moderated by Sophia Salaman of The World of Interiors.
A snippet from the Event Programme at Focus/17
FOCUS/17 – BACK TO THE FUTURE TALK: THE PANEL
The focus of the talk was to explore ‘how the past informs the way we decorate today’. This is something of extreme personal interest to me and I was really thrilled to attend. I strive to make strong historic design references in all my schemes (from Art Deco to Hollywood Regency) and in my championing of a Classic Contemporary aesthetic.
The panel consisted of leading interior designers; Sophie Paterson, Laura Hammett, Fleur Rossdale and Marie Soliman of Lawson Robb. Essentially, an oh-so-fabulous ‘Loose Women’ of the design world.
The ‘Back to the Future’ panel, discussing historical design references at Focus/17
The discussion covered how contemporary design makes strong reference to the past and it explored how each designer interprets historic references in their work. This is an extremely relevant topic – we’re currently seeing both a Mid-Century Modern and ’70s resurgence (take a look in your local Habitat). For Mid-Century Modern (1950’s/60’s) think the compact, ‘mod’ shapes and the streamlined silhouette of mass-produced furniture combined with punchy bold prints a-la Orla Kiely.
Tin House by Henning Stummel – Here, the kitchen showcases classic ’70s orange hues with streamlined, modern cabinetry. (Image source: dezeen.com)
Equally, the 70’s is also seeing a fashionable revival in terms of colour palette (rust, burnt orange, burgundy, ochre, berry, olive and brown) but also in regards to texture. Texture is big, HUGE for A/W 2017/18. Mix sumptuous velvets, chenille, corduroy or suede with tactile Mongolian fur and feathers, then throw in some house plants and gold for good measure! (More on this in a post to follow).
The ’70s is back across both fashion and interiors. Note the palette showcased at Alberta Ferretti’s Resort Collection 2018. (Image source: Vogue.com)
FOCUS/17 – BACK TO THE FUTURE TALK: PANEL PREFERENCES
Alongside a discussion about the future of design and working on Grade II listed buildings, the panel talked about their historical design preferences. Sophie Paterson and Laura Hammett shared their mutual love of Art Deco detailing and Georgian architecture. I have to say girls, I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m obsessed with the simplified, yet decorative shapes of Art Deco furniture, the architectural motifs and geometric forms, striking glass finishes and attention to detail.
This stunning Belgravia Townhouse bathroom, by designer Laura Hammett, makes reference to Art Deco in the lines and finishes. (Image source: laurahammett.com)
The glamour of the era still astounds me – was there really a time before everyone wore jeans?! Equally, the symmetry and elegance of Georgian architecture has always spoken to me. Harmony and balance are things I always strive to achieve in my schemes, regardless of ceiling height or the absence of perfectly proportioned spaces.
The talk was incredibly inspiring and illuminating – set within a gorgeous array of textiles in the Evitavonni showroom. With a side of delicious canapes (don’t mind if I do), sparkling drinks and design-chat (my favourite kind), the event was extremely well-attended by industry professionals.
I was pleasantly surprised by the panel’s willingness to converse with the audience after the talk. And by converse, I really mean pose for selfies with adoring fans and answer pressing questions about wall panelling and colour schemes. Shame my selfies with Sophie and Laura are just too tragic (me – not them) to make it to the public domain…
FOCUS/17 – FOCUS ON FINISH
Some of the gorgeous textural samples showcasing the bespoke finishes available at Julian Chichester.
The Julian Chichester showroom was next on my agenda.
Here, I received a presentation on how their skilled artisans use both traditional and cutting-edge techniques to create unusual and bespoke finishes for their furniture. The beautiful vellum-covered pieces were my personal favourite and, although vellum is fine parchment made originally from the skin of a calf (think Magna Carta), I spent much of my visit stroking beautifully coloured samples. A fantastic experience – even for a longstanding vegetarian! I also learnt about creating folded brass and market-leading faux-shagreen finishes.
What the presentation highlighted to me more than anything is how every bespoke piece is entirely unique. That the make is all part of the story of the item – imperfections and all. I love imperfections in a hand-crafted item because they really highlight the humanity of the process.
More gorgeous, tactile samples at Julian Chichester
FOCUS/17 – NEW COLLECTION REVEAL
I’m a big fan of the brand, Porta Romana, who are largely known for their exquisite lighting but also producers of gorgeous, luxury furniture.
Their showroom had been styled (including some striking new window displays) by Martin Brudnizki and &Object’s Nicholas Jeanes for Focus/17, giving it a slick, art gallery look and feel. They showcased some gorgeous hero-pieces and a new collaborative collection with Brudnizki.
This capsule collection, which is formed of five lamps, combines deliciously hued ceramic bases with plain and printed pleated shades. The ecletctic mix of textures and finishes is what really appeals to me in this carefully curated edit, achieving both a classic and contemporary aesthetic.
Gorgeous pieces from the new capsule collection &Objects at Porta Romana
FOCUS/17 – LIZZO LEGEND LAUNCH
Lizzo’s new wallpaper collection, Legend, ticks all my boxes. It’s a fine art triumph (something I’ve championed as a key trend for A/W 2017/18).
Viewing their large scale papered wall, I almost felt as I did when experiencing Monet’s Waterlilies for the first time, on the curved walls at the Musee Orangerie in Paris. Lizzo have collaborated with abstract painter Elena Carozzi for this tantalising series and the outcome is fascinating. This was a showroom event worth visiting and I loved chatting art-history and painting references with the staff!
I’m always keen on painterly marks, layered forms and a rich yet subtle palette. The Legend collection exceeds all expectations
FOCUS/17 – LAUNCH/ LUNCH PARTY
Focus/17 know how to party. (Image source: https://twitter.com/DesignCentreCH via Twitter)
I wasn’t able to attend the official DCCH launch party but it’s fair to say, I had extreme FOMO.
Industry insiders and leaders; mingling, nibbling on canapes, sipping fizz whilst glammed-up and listening to live music; totally my scene. In my pyjamas, from the information on my Insta-feed, this party appeared the perfect setting for the creative collective. A stunning spectacle! Perhaps this portion of the event will have a mention in my review next year…
I did, however, pay a visit to Tom’s Kitchen at the Tatler Restaurant, which is always a stop on my list. Adorned in simply beautiful floral displays, the restaurant looked even more gorgeous than ever. (They make a great ‘Chelsea Gardens’ cocktail too)!
I hope you enjoyed my Focus/17 highlights! It really was an enriching and enlightening experience, with the 360 Degree Design Vision theme highlighting that we should never stop learning or pushing boundaries.
Did you pay a visit to the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour? I would love to hear about your London Design Festival top-picks so please get in touch. Leave a comment below or catch me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook.
Girl signing off,
AMARA INTERIOR BLOG AWARDS
*I have some exciting news to share!*
I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who voted for me in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. GIRL ABOUT HOUSE has reached the FINAL and I couldn’t be more delighted! As a very new blogger, I am so fortunate to have received the support I did and really appreciate those who went out of their way to vote, encourage and spread the word. Thank you!
Final results to be announced on 25th October at Amara Interior Blog Awards event, held at the Design Museum. London
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