With 116 showrooms in three light-filled glass domes, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour is an international year-round go-to source for interior design and decoration. It also hosts London Design Week, Europe’s flagship show for interior designers.
This year’s show opens on Sunday (March 13) until Tuesday (March 15) for the trade, but from next Wednesday (March 16) until Friday (March 18), the doors are thown open to the public with free entry from 10am to 6pm.
It is the perfect opportunity for you to take a crash course in all that the Design Centre has to offer, including fabulous window displays, showroom tours, talks by design luminaries and authors, engrossing demos of craft skills, and exclusive workshops.
The hottest new trends in interiors
The hottest new trends in interiors
Hail pale: pastel fabrics in the Aymara collection by Villa Nova, left, at prices from £32.50 to £65 a metre. Call 01623 756699 or visit villanova.co.uk
Fine embroidered braids, above, including Ikat at £42 per metre, Crackle Braid £36 per metre and Zig Zag pattern, all from Zoffany (zoffany.com)
Fresh for spring: cushions in pretty new fabrics by Manuel Canovas (at Colefax and Fowler), from £59 a metre. Background is Tuscany fabric at £85 a metre. Visit manuelcanovas.com
Ravishing florals: Jean Paul Gaultier's Botanique fabric, right, is 100 per cent cotton satin, 140cm wide, in a choice of four colourways, at £98 a metre from Lelièvre. Call 020 7352 4798 or go to lelievre.eu
Double take: US brand Larsen has this new Howard fabric in a striking lozenge design in a viscose/cotton/linen mix, at £98 a metre, 133cm wide. Visit larsenfabrics.com
Natural high: Acer pattern on Rushes laminated base cloth creates wallcovering from the Akaishi collection, £90 per metre; chair covered in Birodo velvet in Flame, £78 per metre (zoffany.com)
Perfect balance: London Design Week features lighting and furniture as well as wallpapers and fabrics. Seen left is the Christie fingertouch "rise and fall pendant" with a fluted bone china shade — £399 at originalbtc.com (020 7351 2130)
Visitors can quiz the experts, pick up loads of samples and enjoy a glass of champagne before the daily Harbour tours at 2.30pm. Philippa Craddock is doing the flowers that will fill the domes — Vogue called her “queen of London florists” — and she will share her skills on Wednesday at 10.30am.
To check out the full programme, visit dcch.co.uk or call 020 7225 9166.
At the Harbour are 600 top décor labels mainly clustered over four floors of the three-domed “mother ship”, but increasingly spreading into a satellite called Design Centre East that sits to one side. This is connected to the main drag by a walkway on the second floor, lined with must-see mood boards of the latest trends for instant inspiration. There’s also a wide covered passage to Design Centre East on the ground floor, with informal design workshops with tips from experts.
The Harbour is not just for fabrics and wallcoverings — there are also tables, chairs, cabinets, lampshades, handles and curtain poles, rugs and masses more. Find the braids, trims, hardware and special finishes that set a home apart. “Artisan” is in, and brands flaunt impressive craft skills from Britain and abroad, including tassel making, gilding, leather stitching and tooling, hand block printing and marquetry.
This year the Design Centre has brought in 32 new brands from around the world, including kitchens by Christopher Peacock, who did Bill and Hillary Clinton’s kitchen at Chappaqua in New York.
No computer screen can replicate the experience of seeing, touching and feeling the wares at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. Paper-backed wallcoverings are stunning — check out Altfield, for example, which does even stone and metal on a roll.
Any fabric at American Schumacher can be paper-backed, and a new archive collection called Classics revives a century of pattern successes, including vintage Art Deco.
The Akaishi collection by Zoffany is outstanding, its Jacquard weaves subtly overprinted with broad-brush artwork including skyscapes, maple leaves or rushes. The fabrics are then made room-ready with paper backs. The effect is harmonious and calm.
Fresh spring pastels feature the prettiest of pinks and blues anchored with lots of russet and copper. “March is no time for grey or beige,” says Paolo Moschino whose chic showroom/shop trades as Nicholas Haslam.
Watch out for turquoise, emerald, pink and lime with lots of tropical palm motifs. Here, as ever, Manuel Canovas at Colefax and Fowler tops the bill.
Detail is of the essence. Find charming embroidered kingfishers in the Fauvisimo collection at Harlequin, where the name says it all, or tiny sequined ladybirds in ravishing florals by Jean Paul Gaultier at Lelièvre. The designer has eschewed his habitual punk and stripes for le style Anglais and all things floral, in a collection of prints called Botanique.
Furniture scout Simon Chaplin searches international fairs for his Design Centre showroom and Hatch End shop. See romantic, fabric-pleated lighting-cum-sculpture from Israel’s Aqua Creations; a lavishly proportioned sofa with an adjustable back from Italian maker Edra, and a “pixelated” sideboard by Spanish designer Cristian Zuzunaga.
Flamboyant UK designer Christopher Guy has the largest showroom on the third floor of the South Dome. He employs 2,000 people in his workshop in Java, with wood carving at the heart of his work. Finally, for a statement over the dining table, Original BTC Lighting has a delicate new rise-and-fall fluted porcelain pendant lamp — gorgeous.