Over the autumn months I have been exploring design shows, many associated with London Design Festival, the place to go for anyone seeking inspiration and keeping tabs on the latest creations and trends, both from established and emerging designers. I am always excited to visit these shows, catch up with new collections from my favourite companies and discover new craftspeople. The shows are a useful way to get a feel for which direction the current wave of design is heading, and you can decide whether to be carried along with it or swim against it if it’s not for you. This is the important bit to remember when wandering around gazing at everything on display because it’s easy to be seduced and swept away by all the eye candy. You have to be able to digest all that you have seen and pick out what is truly for you - to plough your own creative furrow and find ideas and creators that complement, challenge, add friction and inevitably enhance your own style.
I approach design shows with my feet firmly on the ground because they can be both inspiring and intimidating. I like to observe the people that attend because they are often as interesting as the displays themselves, providing a clue as to what kind of show it is. I was happy to see a wide variety of personalities, smart, casual, groomed and decorated. My partner and I, although originally from London, often feel a tad rebellious in our country bumpkin attire, mixing alongside the stiletto brigade, our practical Converse jostling for position alongside other practical shoes while we admire the commitment and stamina displayed by the wearers of those seven-inch heels.
We absorbed a wide range of styles in furniture, lighting, textiles, hardware and decorative homewares. The stands varied from professional sales staff to the artists themselves. The personal approach when a maker shows you their work is such a unique experience - witnessing the pride and dedication required during the making process, the attention to detail within a range of materials such as wood, glass, metal and fabric, as well as fixtures, fittings and finishes, and the years of research and experimentation that go into producing an item before it hits the shops. At design show Decorex, this was all backed up by live, interactive demonstration spaces, revealing the processes involved in, for example, upholstering, creating wallpaper and intricate metalworking.
So, what is the overall feeling of design this year? On first impression I am happy to say, lots of colour. As you will be aware I am a strong advocate for the use of colour inside and out. Chosen well, it can be a fantastic mood enhancer; we just have to be brave enough to use it! So often we draw inspiration from nature and this is reflected in the new paint colours this year by the emergence of autumnal tones of deep reds, yellows and purple ochres. Dulux recently announced the ‘Colour of 2019’ to be Spiced Honey, and Little Greene have a new colour card devoted to various shades of green, in collaboration with the National Trust. Adding Farrow and Ball’s new contributions including ever popular pinks means there is fun to be had in the home preparing for a cosy winter ahead.
Other exhibits on show were textured, exotic varieties of wood, used for furniture, with varied techniques of coloured and metal inlay finishes, as well as bright lacquered pieces - the Art Deco influence still dominating a lot of high-end design; clean lines combined with curves were breathtaking. It was also great to see alternative takes on the standard crystal chandelier with Hellooow exhibiting Fairtrade clay bead versions, and Cold Harbour Lights showcasing theatrical feathered beauties. Rothschild and Bickers had a beautifully tactile collection of bespoke, hand-blown glass lighting and Original BTC caught my eye with their exquisite bone china pendants in a range of delicate styles. House of Hackney were showcasing their latest and ever-vibrant collection of fabric, wallpaper and home accessories following a recent collaboration with French brand Zuber. I joined them for a moodboard workshop to learn more about their approach to combining colour, pattern and texture with no holds barred! So - the overall theme? Colour domination. I have decided to dive right in, fun times ahead.
Published in the November 2018 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk