Overflowing with new colours, patterns, shapes and materials for spring, London Design Week opens at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour on Sunday. This is the real décor deal, unique among international trade shows.
First, each of the 98 showrooms packing the three glass domes by the Thames are on their home territory, not crammed on to bleak exhibition stands. So they have room to flaunt their wares, with staff on hand, and often there's a free drink thrown in. Second, for its final three days (Wednesday to Friday, March 20-22), the public is welcome. There's no charge, and even free transport via a fleet of Range Rovers from Sloane Square.
This is the biggest year yet for the harbour. Claire German, now in her third year as managing director, is masterminding the event. There are collection launches, curated tours, informal workshops, book signings and "design conversations" with top names from around the globe. Check it all out at www.dcch.co.uk or call 020 7225 9166 for a programme.
For fabrics, tropical is topical, with zingy turquoise, limes and pinks. Dip-dyes are easy to live with and big, soft geometrics create an architectural look. Watch out in particular for swathes of sheers — so good for hiding the bad views from some London windows.
Master fabric designer Cole & Son is launching a new collection starring Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988), a Milanese maestro of surreal pattern on many products. New arrivals at the harbour include Création Baumann from Switzerland, with some of the most technically advanced fabrics in the world.
Super-sophisticated Black Edition by Romo, a Nottingham-based firm, offers huge florals, stunning abstracts, printed lace, dip-dyes, velvet and damask, in a portfolio with panache.
HRW Antiques shows with aplomb how to mix old and new, with 18th- and 19th-century English and continental furniture and objet d'arts. Visit its show, Mirror Mirror on the Wall.
Also new is Nicholas Haslam for lighting, furniture, fabrics and accessories, and Samuel & Sons Passementerie for trimmings from New York.
Talks and workshops
There are talks and workshops, too. Don't miss the lecture on Great Houses of London (Wednesday March 20), and celebrate the Best of British with afternoon tea at Victoria Baths at 3pm each day.
A separate wing at the harbour (Design Centre East) has 17 showrooms over three floors. Explore them on a treasure trail with a clutch of glam prizes.
Join us for our Homes & Property masterclass
A morning masterclass hosted by Homes & Property is on Friday, March 22 from 10am to 12.30pm, in association with the much-respected KLC School of Design. Topics include detoxing your home — tutor Julia Begbie reveals how to clear out the clutter and improve storage, and adds designer tricks with lighting.
Plus, tutor Pete Bonney explores an updated decorative palette that can add colour, pattern and texture to a London home, complete with all those vital finishing touches.
Special price for Homes & Property readers is £15, down from £20. Advance booking is recommended on 020 7352 1900, or visit dcch.co.uk.
* Free return courtesy transport to Chelsea Harbour every 15 minutes from Sloane Square Hotel (across from the Tube station), calling at Osborne & Little and Designers Guild on King's Road and Kingcome Sofas in Fulham Road.