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London Design Week 2016 – Review Part 1

Introduction and Trends by Anthony Rayworth

Last week, I was very fortunate to attend two exhibitions forming part of London Design Week (LDW16).

The first of these was Focus, held throughout Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, with 120 showrooms presenting new collections, seminars, exhibitions and demonstrations from over 600 brands supplying high-end interior designers throughout the UK and beyond.

Full exhibitor list available here:

LDW16 review - Design Centre Chelsea Harbour

Left to right: The distinctive domes of Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, the entrance dome and the Centre Dome all dressed up for the Focus opening party. Images: Accessed: 27/09/16

The second exhibition was Decorex International, held in a beautifully light and airy marquee in the grounds of Syon Park and presenting over 400 exhibitors plus a full programme of seminars and mentoring sessions from leading figures from the international interior design community. In total, I visited 520 showrooms presenting over 1000 brands in two days… Phew!

Full exhibitor list available here:

LDW16 review - Decorex marquee

Left to right: Syon Park, Inside the Decorex Marquee. Images: Syon Park: Inside the Decorex marquee: Accessed: 27/09/16

It would be impossible to produce a detailed review of the entire content of both shows. I have, however, produced a series of five blogs to be released throughout October. Each blog will concentrate on a specific area of interior design. The blogs are a personal view of some of the highlights I encountered during the visit.

But first, a word or two about trends:


Trend 1: Artisan

Both venues evidenced a return to the artisan. Or rather a fresh and vital reinterpretation of the artisan approach evidenced in the work of such companies as Cox London and Tom Faulkner. Long may this Trend continue and well done to Decorex for including the Future Heritage section showcasing some of the most innovative and beautiful work of contemporary craftspeople.

LDW16 review - Cox London Showroom

The Cox London showroom. Image: Accessed: 27/09/16

LDW16 review - Tom Faulkner

Tom Faulkner: Left to right:Odessa sideboard in Sycamore with polished bronze inlay, Grace side table in bronze, steel or marble, Phoenix dining table in polished bronze and glass

Images: Accessed: 27/09/16

Future Heritage is a collection expertly curated by design and applied arts critic, Corinne Julius. Exclusively for 2016, this select group of makers presented new work and processes that can be commissioned by interior designers and architects for use in their projects, such as lighting, flooring, and sound absorbent, fire resistant textiles. All of the designer/maker practices were chosen for their innovation and mastery across a range of craft skills from ceramics to electronics and had created new work especially for Decorex.

LDW16 review - trends

Left to right: Future Heritage curator Corinne Julius, Ceramics by Tamsin van Essen. Decorex Accessed 27/09/16

LDW16 review - glass trend

Glass by Ashraf Hanna. Decorex Accessed 27/09/16

LDW16 - decor trends

Left to right: Lighting by Hideki Yoshimoto,  ‘Handmade Hi-tech bowls by Silo Studio.. Decorex Accessed 27/09/16

Trend 2: Colour

There was no evidence of a single colour being in evidence but there was a lot of chartreuse, strong blue – whether sky, royal or indigo, burgundy and a plethora of tertiaries. The most noticeable aspect.

However, was the use of colour rather than the hue itself. All colours were shown and used in new ways. Where there was a nod to the historic, art deco or mid-century, it was with a fresh eye but mainly the use of colour was both innovative and arresting. Armani Casa presented some very refined accessories in the most daring colour combinations at Chelsea Harbour, whilst the Bluebell Gray and the Timorous Beasties stands at Decorex were a pure celebration of subversive colour and pattern.

LDW16 review - colour trend

Left to right: Bluebell Gray wallcovering, Winchester and Kaleido Block wall panels by Timorous Beasties. Image: Accessed: 27/09/16

LDW16 review - Armani Casa colour trend

Armani Casa at Chelsea Harbour. Image: Author’s own.

Trend 3: History and Provenance

Whilst this trend has been with us for some time now, it shows no sign of abating. In fact, I think that it has now transcended its ‘Trend’ status and become an essential requirement for manufacturers with integrity.

In an age where many think it is easy to be an interior designer, simply because they can order something from the internet; history, integrity, ethics and provenance are becoming a mark of distinction for artisans, manufacturers and suppliers.

Many designers now introduce custom pieces into their clients’ interiors as a matter of course. It is an irrevocable statement of quality, craftsmanship, culture and knowledge, in short – the new definition of luxury. As writer, producer and brand development strategist Lindsey Saletta says:

“We know too much for the old definition of unattainable luxury to apply. As a group, we have lower incomes and high expectations. Perhaps this is why our priorities have shifted. Perhaps this is why luxury in the sense of beauty, art, quality and knowledge, has become so precious to us. New luxury is not inaccessible, but it does take intention. Beauty must be sought out; one must make the conscious choice to discover quality and to enjoy it. Luxury in the traditional American sense (increasingly bigger cars, televisions and houses) no longer seems a viable option.

LDW16 review - Provenance trend

LDW16 review - showroom trend

In-showroom exhibitions by Porta Romana of the process of hand gilding and finishing as applied to their lighting elements and a demonstration of hand-painting fabric for curtains and soft furnishings. DCCH Accessed: 27/09/16

During October, I will present weekly blogs focusing on different aspects of the shows: Part 2: Furniture, Part 3: Lighting, Part 4: Textiles and Part 5: Accessories.

I look forward to sharing these wonderful products with you over the coming weeks.

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  1. […] October and November, I will present blogs focusing on different aspects of the shows: Part 1: Review, Part 3: Lighting, Part 4: Textiles and Part 5: […]

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