London Design Festival's must-see shows:Focus, Decorex, LuxuryMade and Chelsea Design Quarter

Decorex will kickstart London Design Festival 2016 on September 18, with Focus, LuxuryMade and events in the Chelsea Design District launching soon after. Take a tour of the must-see installations, creative design hubs and exhibitions taking place across the capital...

Many of the big autumn decor-fests are “trade” events for professional designers, architects and retailers, but there is some access for all. 

You can visit Focus at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour for free on the event’s last two days - Thursday 22 and Friday 23 September.

The look at Chelsea Harbour - as channelled by about 120 international brands - is elegant and understated in a subtle colour palette of neutrals and faded pastels. 

Surfaces are richly textured, while furniture is pared-down and sculptural. There is a big emphasis on materials. Some are touchy-feely - woven cane and raffia, crushed velvets and the swish of silk. Others bring a harder drama to the mix - marbles with the vein of ages, patinated copper, the dull gold of brass, chunks of rock crystal, exotic veneers. 

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King's Road, SW3: Matthew Williamson fabrics £51 to £170 a metre at Osborne & Little

Call by the “design hub” which links the older centre dome to the new showrooms in the now-buzzing Design Centre East. Here “drop in” free workshops include tips from experts on collecting art and creating a colour scheme. And you can meet award-winning Stewart Carey, whose elegant hand-thrown ceramics are so highly covetable. Or sip a glass of champagne before you join an afternoon tour: find the full programme at

Nearby opposite each other on the King’s Road are two of London’s best known decor brands, offering a contrasting take on pattern and colour for over 40 years. This season Osborne & Little (founded in 1968) are melding fashion with fantasy in another glorious collection by fashion’s Matthew Williamson. His is a very personal take on India - watch out for the tigers. 

Across the road, Tricia Guild (who set up shop in 1970) London’s first lady of florals, delivers huge new-look blooms in the painterly palette that is her forte. 

Blue is the hue everywhere  this autumn -  “denim drift” has been tagged Dulux colour of the year. Guild has dressed her store in a wash of moody indigo, tracking the story of this ancient dye through textiles, fashion and one-off ceramics. Visit more showrooms in the surrounding area with holding shows for the London Design Festival, which opens on Saturday (

Decorex, Syon Park: De la Terre à la Lune wallpaper —“From the Earth to the Moon” — is on show with Design-Nation

Decorex, now in its 39th year, is an elite interiors edit of luxury labels, with exhibition stands that tell their stories in fascinating detail - explore how things are made and feel the materials. Soak up oodles of expert advice, and maybe discuss a commission. The public day at Decorex is Tuesday 20 September. Tickets cost £30. Visit

A clutch of newer brands add a noticeably sharper edge - see the Design-Nation stand in particular ( Pattern is rampant - archives have been plundered. 

Flowerbeds, the sky, lakes and fields are digitally-subverted using drawing and photography into riotous romps of colour enhanced with fine detail (watch out for Timorous Beasties, Elli Popp, and Boho & Co). Smart craft uses high tech in a compelling display of “future heritage”. 

A new design show opens at Olympia next week, called LuxuryMade. With 40 brands displaying craftsmanship rather than bling, it is timely, for luxury is the buzz word for London homes this autumn. Visit

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