Five unmissable shows: London Design Festival 2012

Uncover the very latest in interior design before it hits the shops. At the core of the 10th London Design Festival are five “trade” shows spread across the capital — which also have days for the public.
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Floral Collection by Byron & Byron
Here is your chance to uncover the very latest in interior design — even before it hits the shops. At the core of the 10th London Design Festival (September 14-23; are five “trade” shows spread across the capital — which also have days for the public.

Aimed mainly at retailers, architects and interior designers, these shows are about design at its very source. Talk directly with the experts — designers, manufacturers, techno-buffs — and maybe order on the spot. The whole design world comes to these great London shows and now you can, too. We even have special ticket prices for readers.

1. Decorex International 2012

September 23-26 (trade) with a public afternoon on September 25 from 1pm to 7pm. Tickets £30 (includes catalogue and glass of champagne), at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3 (enter from Royal Hospital Road or Chelsea Embankment); 0844 557 2306;

Decorex is the decor show big daddy — celebrating its 35th year, with 315 exhibitors and unashamed luxury. Go to goggle, starting at the entrance by Dame Vivienne Westwood. From trad to cutting edge, with boutique-style upholstery, finely crafted solid timbers, superb rugs, fine fabrics, crystal lamps, exotic handles and finials (like the Floral Collection by Byron & Byron, pictured) and wall coverings in paper, plaster and woven wood, and much more — with a bevy of Royal Warrant holders.

* Readers’ offer: quote DEC34 on phone or website, and buy one ticket for £24.

Kirath Gundoo wallpapers

2. 100% Design

September 19-21 (trade days) then public day is September 22. Tickets £15. Earls Court 2, Warwick Road, SW5. Visit

With new organisers (Media 10) 100% Design also has an enthusiastic new director, William Knight. The theme is “future living”, spotlighting new design, manufacturing techniques and materials, with 220 exhibitors in clearly divided sections for interiors, office, eco-design and build, kitchens and bathrooms.

Big design names add gravitas, while emerging brands such as Kirath Ghundoo wallpapers (pictured; flaunt their talent.

* Readers’ offer: register on website, quote code comp300 and buy two tickets for the price of one.

Castallani weaves collection at Designers Guild

3. Focus 12

September 23-25 (trade) with a public day on September 26. Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road, SW10, and three showrooms in King’s Road (020 7225 9166; Admission free.

Chelsea Harbour’s Design Centre — all glass, light and fresh flowers — is über-glam, as is the international throng of top decorators agog to see latest lines at the 95 showrooms offering lavish seasonal displays. Fabrics and papers are their forte — explore Harlequin, Zoffany, Cole & Son, Colefax and Fowler, GP&J Baker, Mulberry Home, and Sanderson.

Also furniture from Chaplins, Fendi Casa, Amani Casa, and Fox Linton; plus top names in lighting — 500 international décor brands in all. This pictured chair is upholstered in Morriset in azure (back, £83 a metre) and Castallani in Ink (seat, £95 a metre) from the Castallani weaves collection at Designers Guild.

The Royal Mail sorting office

4. Designjunction

September 19-23 with public entry throughout. The Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, WC1 (07544 465 092; Free.

Here is the new kid on the block in only its second year and now in a conveniently central venue, at the old Sixties Royal Mail sorting office (pictured) at the lower end of Oxford Street.

“We’re filling an erstwhile eerie industrial space with top design, including more than 100 furniture and lighting brands,” says London’s new design godmother, founder/director Deborah Spencer, who, with enterprise and elan, has evolved this show and opened it free to allcomers.

Here the big brands (such as Cappellini, Cassina and Poltrona Frau) shelter smaller designer labels. But arguably, it’s the add-ons that will pull in the punters — the pop-up design shops and bars/cafés, the free films and talks in a specially built theatre, and the “flash factories” with goods made before your very eyes.

Rui Vasco and his woven Ageve chair

5. Tent London and Super Brands

September 20-23 at Old Truman Brewery, E1 (; Tickets £8 in advance, £10 on the door. Public entry throughout.

Over six years, charismatic director Jimmy MacDonald has grown Tent London into a multifaceted design event with 200 brands. Meet London’s most adventurous young designers with products to buy/take away.

We like designer Rui Vasco and his woven Ageve chair (pictured, £925;, on show at Tent, but why not try making your own chair at the foam party, one of Tent’s many light-hearted installations. Talks/seminars add a more serious note, too.

Sister show Super Brands ups the ante — exhibitors include Ligne Roset, Moroso, Diesel for Foscarini, and Allermuir. Factor in the fun Brick Lane location and it’s a great day out.

* Readers’ offer: book before September 14 on the show website and get two tickets for £10. Quote ESTL241.

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