LONDON DESIGN WEEK: CELEBRATING INDIVIDUALITY AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION
LONDON DESIGN WEEK 2018
What a welcome to the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour! The beautiful, fresh spring blooms flanking the carpeted staircase into the main entrance set the celebratory tone. Floral arrangements by master florist, Rob Van Helden
This week, The Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour was my stomping ground and early morning coffee my fuel. Sporting my trusted snakeskin boots and a slick of punchy lipstick confidence, I was excited for everything that London Design Week had on offer.
This year’s theme – ‘The Rise of Individuality and Creative Expression’ was to be explored and interpreted across over 100 free events in and around the world-renowned Design Centre. Including prestigious ‘meet-the-designer’ talks and presentations, highly skilled artisan demonstrations and interactive showroom sessions, this was set to be a more jam-packed and unmissable event than ever.
Monochromatic mood in snakeskin, stripes and a little bit of Gucci! This, evidently, was not in-tune with the London Design Week ’18 soft pastel look and feel which was a shame after so artfully coordinating with the Focus ’17 branding last September. Individuality and creative expression is the name of the game though, right?!
Design Week offers creative junkies the ultimate high. And this is not a single hit – the quality and scope of activities is artfully sustained throughout the entirety of the event. Upon arrival, guests receive an event programme – a substantial guide which covers the full extent of opportunities available, ensuring nothing is missed.
THE DESIGN CENTRE
With each Design Week, the iconic Design Centre is skillfully dressed and styled to reflect the event’s chosen look and feel. Spaces from the entrance hall to custom eateries are given a gorgeous thematic re-brand. This year, the concept felt decidedly fresh with shades of soft pastel complemented by pretty blossom and blooms by skilled florist, Rob Van Helden. Spring had certainly sprung in Chelsea.
Time for a quick glass of champagne?
Within the stylish FT How to Spend It Restaurant, Rob Van Helden‘s expressive creations combined muted coloured glassware with elegant textural arrangements. This was the place to enjoy a stylish tipple whilst networking or reflecting on all the creative insight available.
Tiffany blue upholstered velvet curved benches gave the space gravitas and were combined with metallic bistro-style tables for delicious contrast. Finished with sweet little pink and lilac rose clusters and an interplay of different textures, this restaurant was an inspiring and creative hive.
The FT How to Spend It restaurant, luxuriated in soft pastels, chic metallics and tactile finishes was the perfect place to break for a bite. I enjoyed catching up with the lovely Medina King of MK Kids Interiors here – networking with like-minded people was another highlight of London Design Week ’18
There was a strong selection of alternative eateries and refreshment stops.
Perky Blenders‘ pop up station offered a delicious complementary coffee (love the name too) whilst the Refuel and Revive cafe combined fresh deli sandwiches with really fun decor. Lilac painted woodwork worked beautifully alongside Sanderson‘s ‘Wysteria Falls’ walls and draped fabric ceiling. Skillfully offset by vibrant green astroturf flooring, the lines between cafe and art installation were decidedly blurred.
Refuel and Revive – the whimsy of wisteria
CANVAS OF CREATIVITY
Commissioned especially for London Design Week 2018, the aerial installation entitled ‘Canvas of Creativity’ is a celebration of creative freedom and expression.
Conceived by stylist, designer and curator Arabella McNie, the enormous paintbrushes which are realised in a range of fabrics, trims and paints, duck and dive through the architecture of the central dome. Fluidity of form gives this piece visual presence at any level of the building and every vista offers a fresh perspective.
I love the fact that the concept of this installation offered wide collaborative opportunity. Arabella McNie‘s design incorporates a number of fabric houses, whilst the paint is Style Library. Varied patterns and palettes create a wonderful interplay across the design
WHY ‘INDIVIDUALITY AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION’?
With many showrooms choosing to launch their latest collections during London Design Week, newness was everywhere. I loved the fresh colourways of these sumptuous patterned textiles at James Hare
This theme felt incredibly relevant and fitting for our time.
Image-sharing social platforms such as Instagram, Houzz and Pinterest have unlocked the once secretive world of interiors. We are only ever a few taps away from creating a moodboard. A screenshot from generating an instant shopping list to achieve our desired look. Whilst this is a positive step, plagiarism is rife and individuality and creative expression can be compromised. The idea of recreating that Pinterest-perfect space can actually be quite binding and not conducive to original, individual thought.
Ultimately, that’s what makes this event such a calendar highlight for me. The Design Centre actively promotes personal interpretation and supports individuality and new ideas. This London Design week was a self-proclaimed celebration of creative expression and achievement. ‘A moment of pause, to take a snapshot of the wealth of talent to be found (here)’.
My highlights are still quite extensive as it was so difficult to edit my experience into a few bullet points. Buckle up!
THE TALKS: CONVERSATIONS IN DESIGN
Private members’ lounge for industry professionals, the Design Club is located at the heart of Design Centre. It’s the perfect backdrop for creative discussion and was where many of the talks took place
You can always rely on the Design Centre to secure the highest calibre of keynoter. Inspirational personalities, not only recognized for their design prowess but incredibly fluid, engaging speakers, graced the Design Club stage and various showrooms. The ‘Conversations in Design’ series brings together these big-hitters with first-class journalistic names to offer insightful and engaging creative discussion.
Wallcovering and fabric connoisseurs, Osborne and Little’s Sir Peter Osborne’s discussion with Homes and Gardens editor-in-chief Deborah Barker launched this series. They covered the iconic British company’s evolution and how a passion for art and design shaped the global brand.
Sir Osborne’s talk coincided with his company’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate, a larger than life sculptural fabric cake, measuring six feet tall, was commissioned for their Chelsea showroom. With five decadent layers of decorative velvet from Osborne & Little’s new Palazzo collection, it was iced with their stunning new Torcello velvet and topped with colourful Medici Satin iced gems. The cake sits on a 6ft paper doily made from wallpaper. Completed with an equally large, decorative cake slice, this artistic sculptural gateau is the epitome of creativity.
Happy 50th Birthday O&L! Image source: Osborne and Little!
INVENT AND REPEAT
The World of Interiors’ Sophia Salaman hosted an expert panel discussion entitled ‘ Invent and Repeat: Creativity’s Constantly Changing’ within the stunning Evitavonni showroom. In conversation with an absolute dream-team of designers, the topic of creative inspiration and vision was explored. The panel also considered style identity and how to maintain this in an ever-changing climate.
Left to right: Sophia Salaman with Evitavonni’s Kate Erwich, Amelia Carter , Taylor Howes Designs‘ Jane Landino, Roselind Wilson and Rachel Winham. (See Amelia’s tropical paradise scheme for Holiday House here– alongside others’ gorgeous designs)
BATHROOMS WITH WOW FACTOR
Making living lovely – Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead of 2LG Studio
Jordan and Russel of 2LG Studio are huge advocates of individuality and creative expression (they are also really very lovely)! Their extensive portfolio showcases schemes flavoured with personality, design integrity and plenty of soul. In discussion with Claudia Baillie, they explored how to inject personality and style into the bathroom – a room people often struggle with. Championing colour, they are also huge supporters of independent designers and quality craftsmanship. You won’t find any imitation schemes from this design duo.
KIT KEMP: REDEFINING HOTEL INTERIORS
The Croc Bowling Alley at London’s iconic Ham Yard Hotel – designed by Kit Kemp of Firmdale Hotels. Image source: Firmdale Hotels
I was beyond excited to attend the ‘Kit Kemp: Redefining Hotel Interiors’ conversation!
Pairing internationally acclaimed Design Director Kit Kemp MBE (of the iconic Firmdale hotels) with Times Luxx’s lovely Lisa Grainger was extremely inspired. This was a fluid and honest discussion about pushing boundaries in hotel design. Kit Kemp’s view was that hotels should feel ‘a living space rather than a stuffy institution’.
Her approach to interior design doesn’t feel newly curated or overly ‘staged’ rather, she creates interesting, personalised and extremely creative spaces. Her designs promote conversation and leave a lasting impression. Showcasing and commissioning art and more traditional craft from around the world was highlighted as central to Kit’s approach – and her success. She is not only a beacon of individuality and creative expression but a valuable patron of the arts and so was entirely befitting the show’s theme.
What better way to celebrate the best in creative collaborations and conceptual vision than through showroom window displays? This is the thought behind ‘Legends’ – a fresh initiative for London Design Week 2018.
At every turn, striking decorative installations burst out from behind the glazing of over 40 showrooms. Whoever devised this marriage of international taste-maker talent with iconic brand experienced that ‘eureka’ moment. Every window offered a totally unique angle, largely thanks to the varied backgrounds of the creators who had been plucked from the worlds of design and decoration, art, fashion and architecture. The collaborative windows celebrated a wonderfully wide spectrum of creative consciousness – perfectly aligned with the event’s theme.
AESME x PORTA ROMANA
Window collaborations ranged from floral to fashion-inspired, culinary driven to architectural.
Aesme – the incredibly chic flower studio – designed Porta Romana’s windows which had a distinctly botanical look and feel. Featuring some iconic pieces from the brands’ lighting and furniture collection, the colours and styling felt very much like spring!
AMY COOK x DE LE CUONA
From concept to completion. I’m always so interested in the design process and it was great to gain an insight into Amy’s vision. This really was about individuality and creative expression
De Le Cuona‘s installation – which won ‘Best Legends Window’ – was designed by Amy Cook and had a distinctly ‘arty’ flavour. This concept was right on the money for me, with clear nods to Degas and Monet and more subtle reference to De Chirico (over-sized wooden artist manikin, anyone)?! A Cotswolds-based dressmaker and designer, Amy Cook’s art and textile flair really came through in the outcome. I loved that it was rooted in the past but playfully toyed with new ideas and materials.
HILL HOUSE INTERIORS x BELLA FIGURA
The fabulously layered and highly textural Hill House Interiors x Bella Figura window collaboration felt incredibly luxe. Hand-blown glass and polished nickel were beautifully complemented by shagreen finishes and accents of greenery.
LOEWE x MORRIS & CO.
Luxury accessories brand Loewe partnered with Style Library’s Morris & Co to create the ultimate ‘William Morris-meets-punk’ montage. (I say ‘the ultimate’ – are there many other ‘William Morris-meets-punk’ montages about)? Punchy orange-hued mohawks juxtaposed against decorative Arts and Crafts fabrics and wallcoverings created the ultimate style mash-up.
Other interesting collaborations of note were: Gesa Hansen x Villeroy & Boch; Nina Campbell x Oomph Home; Maddux Creative x Tim Page Carpets; Rachel Willson x Nobilis and The National Gallery x Andrew Martin x Savoir Beds. These can be viewed on the Design Centre’s Instagram stories here.
Bespoke hand-blocked wallcoverings at Watts of Westminster. For more beautiful wallpapers, read my blog post here
Listening to creatives talk about their work is always a pleasure. Insights into their concepts and creative psyche is extremely enlightening. Similarly, I’m always intrigued by the outcome of collaboration – the interweaving of ideas can be truly fascinating. However, there is nothing like seeing a skilled artisan in action or being offered an insight into the design process.
WATTS OF WESTMINSTER
Watts of Westminster‘s showroom is more like a design studio. Here, a printing woodblock sits amongst a selection of decorative trims
The Watts of Westminster showroom offers a sense of creative journey the moment that you walk through the door. Workable woodblock propped on an antique chest, the carving marks and ink residue a reminder of how they painstakingly produce their bespoke wall-coverings.
The journey-of-make is integral to this heritage brand, who have stuck loyally by their traditional techniques and processes. Each wall-covering, produced to specification, is entirely individualised and unique. This brand is a true ambassador of individuality and creative expression.
JASON D’SOUZA – MEET THE MAKER
Jason D’Souza draws inspiration from his knowledge of traditional textile design and techniques with an innovative twist
Tassels and tie-backs artfully crafted live in the studio – what’s not to love about that?! It’s always fascinating to experience delicate, artisan techniques first hand and the sessions at Jason D’Souza’s showroom offered the opportunity to observe the process and get involved.
ARTISANS OF DEVIZES – TILE PAINTING WORKSHOP
Artisans of Devizes – Aruba Pattern Tile
Encouraging participants to channel their personal creativity and expression, tile painting workshops were held at stone expert and tile-makers Artisans of Devizes. An ‘access all areas’ opportunity, the idea was that pattern, colour and design experienced during Design Week 2018 could be channeled in the maker’s outcome.
BUILD A TAP WITH PERRIN AND ROWE
The Perrin and Rowe showroom is new to the Design Centre, having recently opened in 2018. Image source: dcch.co.uk
Perrin and Rowe engaged participants in an interactive tap-building workshop. The luxury kitchen and bathroom specialists wanted to highlight the fine craftsmanship that goes into their products through an immersive and creative learning experience. They also ran a competition, encouraging visitors to select samples, design a mood-board and share it on social media using the hashtag #LDWwithperrinandrowe
SHOWROOM: ACCESS ALL AREAS
Visitors to London Design Week 2018 were encouraged to experience and interact with the Design Centre’s fabulous showrooms. Many brand participants used the opportunity to showcase their spring collections – sharing fresh new product lines, colourways and collaborations.
MARTYN LAWRENCE BULLARD x COLE & SON
I was so excited to experience the outcome of this high-calibre pairing
Cole & Son‘s showroom had been masterfully transformed into a Moroccan riad, courtesy of their brand new collaborative collection with flamboyant interior designer-to-the-stars, Martyn Lawrence Bullard. I loved the rich and exotic cultural references where decorative geometry meets textural diversity in a sumptuous palette.
‘Bazaar’ wallcovering by Cole & Son x Martyn Lawrence Bullard
TIM PAGE CARPETS
Alongside their collaborative window display with Maddux Creative, Tim Page Carpets showcased some new pieces for London Design Week. This fearless Ikat offering, combining highly saturated hues, reaffirmed that individuality and creative expression should be celebrated!
Some other showrooms that I enjoyed visiting were:
Phillip Jeffries who had launched their world cultures and craft-inspired ‘Kinship’ collection;
Lacaze London – where creative director Kay Chattun shared inspiration behind the brand’s new ‘In Pursuit of Atlantis’ range;
Lizzo – the new Gentry and Mythology wallcoverings were truly inspired;
Savoir Beds – Blurring the line between design and art, (do we sense a recurrent theme here?) Judith Mather from The National Gallery and Andrew Martin International’s David Harris talked about the role of art in design. I absolutely love the Harlech Savoir No. 2 Slim Base bed featuring Claude Monet’s Water-Lilies from the Savoir Beds x Andrew Martin x National Gallery collaboration!
LONDON DESIGN WEEK: INDIVIDUALITY AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION
Image source: dcch.co.uk
Bigger, bolder and more impressive than ever, I left Chelsea feeling inspired and creatively reinvigorated. As a designer, I am always aware of the importance of remaining fresh. Stale ideas are no good to anyone, especially when there is always room to grow.
Experiences like Design Week 2018 offer the opportunity to immerse in design – to learn, push boundaries and celebrate individuality and creative expression. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed Focus ’17, the Design Centre’s annual autumnal extravaganza (read all about it here), this year’s event felt more daring – more electric – than ever before.
Girl signing off,
London Design Week 2018 was held at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour between 4th – 9th March, 10am-6pm