Design Centre Chelsea Harbour has just celebrated London Design Week, with a global audience who came to London to visit Europe's biggest interior design centre and soak up the latest trends, because, as the centre's new managing director, Claire German, says: "Nothing beats Britain for design diversity. The place oozed optimism. You could see it in the strong colours, assertive patterns and confident personal styles."
Here, plucked from it all, are five new looks for interiors this spring.
Next month, the South Bank salutes the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. Design gets that Fifties feeling, with retro papers and fabrics. Stylised patterns exude post-war positivity, in bold pillar-box red, acid green and lemon yellow, with lavish dollops of grey, white and black.
Where to find it? Sanderson does it best, working from its original archive. And Pierre Frey has Marilyn lookalikes on a charming toile. Miami at Designers Guild does a Hollywood take on this Fifties look.
How to do it: "British Fifties is a great look for small London homes," says Claire Hart, designer for Sanderson. "It was radical at the time, and it still has that thrill. This is pattern democracy — the designs were for everybody." Consider furniture by Ercol and Pinch, or track down vintage. Hunt the junk — watch out in particular for Midwinter and Poole Pottery.
Carefully detailed building-based designs add soul to bland rooms with no period features of their own. This pattern portfolio has all the depth of architecture, history and art.
Where to find it? The Intaglio collection at Zoffany heads up this trend. Their Palladio pattern is named after the great Renaissance architect. Or there's Itaglio for a touch of the temples: floor-to-ceiling columns that cleverly adjust to a room's height. More architecture can be found at Osborne & Little, Christian Lacroix at Designers Guild, Pierre Frey and new brand Lizzo.
How to do it: Try placing these faux pillars among trompe l'oeil flowers or leaves. "These designs fit well in London homes, in a city with its wealth of classical buildings," says Liz Cann, Zoffany design director. "This is a gracious, formal look. Let rich curtains sweep the floor and add metallic touches."
SHOOTS AND LEAVES
Branches, twigs, leaves and even whole trees are pushing towards the light in the prettiest of spring patterns. Bring the outside into the city indoors.
Where to find it? Find framed images of 18th-century wooded landscapes on pure linen or sheers at Osborne & Little. Topiary is in Sofienberg fabrics and wallpaper at Designers Guild, based on careful drawings at a stately home. And a glorious pile-up of Richmond Park leaves forms a stunning Zoffany design.
How to do it: "Think green colourways for a light, fresh feel. Trees are an everyday sight and so uplifting," says Tricia Guild. Add plenty of white — woodwork, china, linens. For an edgier effect, go for "unnatural" shades, such as black with grey and cream (monochromes are big this season) or even crimson.
ALL THINGS GEOMETRIC
Small-scale geometrics are back in fashion. Look out for chain-like links, trellis formations, spots and squares in low-key colours. It's all very neat and easy to use.
Where to find it? Neisha Crosland at Turnell & Gigon is inspired by Moorish abstracts, and trellis patterns are at Kravet, Thibaut and — enlivened with a looping snake — at Robert Allen.
How to do it: "Forget that feature wall. You can do out a whole room with these small, low-key patterns," says Crosland, one of the capital's most admired pattern pundits. "Think of them as a backdrop and then start layering."
THE RICH MIX
The sheer mass of materials at London Design Week makes decorating a pure delight. New furniture, lighting, trimmings and even taps and baths have fabulous finishes such as pewter, bronze, chrome, crystal and stone. Fibres and colours are ever more inventive.
Where to find it? There is a real slate wallpaper at Altfield, laser-cut from the quarry and linked by a web backing. The Silk Gallery adds chain links to natural glory, and Brian Yates puts sparkly Mica on to walls. Meanwhile, Samuel & Sons at Rubelli/Donghia uses glass, shells, buttons, leather and wood for OTT tiebacks and trimmings.
How to do it: "Try mixing satins and silks with textured linens and chenilles," says Sue Hardie, design manager at Osborne & Little. "Don't mix too many different materials in the same room. Choose a theme and stick to it, and have plenty of contrasts. Highlight textures with clever downlights." Job done.