Trend watch: London Design Festival 2012

Barbara Chandler is set to banish the beige and glitter her home with colour after spotting the latest trends at this year's design shows
Designers Guild
You can't beat colour queen Tricia Guild ( who pushes colour to its limits with digital details on splashy prints in zany hues

This year’s London Design Festival reaches its climax with blockbuster design shows: 100% Design at Earls Court, Tent London in the East End, DesignJunction in New Oxford Street and Designersblock at the Southbank Centre.

These finish on Sunday September 23, when Decorex starts, with a glamorous launch of upmarket interior design in a marquee at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. Running at the same time is the annual Focus launch of new designs at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour and on the King’s Road, with its 90-plus showrooms for fabrics, wallcoverings, furniture, lighting and more.

Nina Tolstrup
Chair by Nina Tolstrup at Tent London

Crazy colours

This autumn, London sports a new colour confidence, gatecrashing from fashion into homes. Jasper Conran celebrates the Conran Shop’s 25th birthday ( with a riotously red extravaganza, splashing specially commissioned artefacts throughout the store.

Meanwhile, at the Tent London design show, in Brick Lane (opening tomorrow), trend pundit Global Color pushes green as the way to go with seminars, installations and trend trails.

Fall for the pretty painterly effects for wallcoverings at Decorex (opens Sunday, public day Tuesday) and Focus (public day next Wednesday). Here colours mix and merge like brushstrokes, swirling over walls, hanging in swathes for drapes, or stretching over a cushion or chair. Don’t miss Impasto fabrics/papers by Harlequin (, where designer Rebecca Cox paints everything by hand. She was inspired by the Impressionists and their thick layers of paint. New Arabella trimmings complete the look.

But you can’t beat colour queen Tricia Guild ( on the King’s Road, Chelsea, pushing colour to its limits with digital details on splashy prints in zany hues. By contrast, consider the contemplative mood of her serene, dip-dyed wall, in a choice of graded hues.

At Focus, Ulf Moritz ( adds fabric ruffles, glittering granules and glass beads to metallic stripes and flowers.

Incunabular Sideboard by Invisible City
Incunabular Sideboard by Invisible City at Tent London

Times past

Raiders of the lost arts are re-inventing archives, source books and old crafts with gay abandon — authenticity is not an issue. Patterns are tweaked, zoomed up or down, and re-coloured for a fresh, modern look that also pulls in the past.

Ubiquitous mid-century modern and retro from the latter half of the last century have an enthusiastic young fan base (orange and brown, anyone?). Accordingly, Irish designer Orla Kiely ( is as ever relentlessly retro with a vast new Fifties-style collection.

At Design Junction there is furniture, lighting, ceramics and textiles in dark woods and muddy tones. And Liberty launches the Jubilee collection drawn from its archives, awash with ravishing art nouveau. Old crafts are rescued and reworked with hand-made woodwork, weaves and stitches — see Melanie Porter’s crocheted shades at Tent (

Sao Paulo sofa
Sao Paulo Sofa by (£2,620) at Tent London

New angles

There are angles, roundels, hexagons and cubes as designers do their maths and add colour for modern furnishing abstracts. At Tent, Sonya Winner has gone full circle with rugs made from interlocking rings, while shelves, doors and drawers in bright colours turn cabinets into contemporary art (;

Papers and fabrics borrow geometry from earlier artefacts — for example, backgammon boards for wallpaper at Minimoderns (Tent), while Florentine zigzags are on fabrics at Focus and Decorex.

Fantasy island

Elsewhere there is an escapist mood. Immerse yourself in wrap-around pattern enhanced by the powerful detail of digital printing. Butterflies, birds, forest creatures and even fairies trip the light fantastic.

Huge murals have tropical birds and flowers painstakingly collaged, coloured and digitally scanned. See Kristjana S Williams at Tent ( Patterns tell stories, such as Daniel Heath’s ( silk-screened papers inspired by circus feats and taxidermy (also at Tent).

Verner Panton heart cone chair
Verner Panton heart cone chair, £2,236, with Benedetta Mori Ubaldini clouds, £170 for two, The Conran Shop

Heavy Metal

Metal is the material du jour, with Bronze, the Royal Academy’s big autumn show just opened. Using this familiar metal, along with copper, steel, brass and even aluminium, designers meld computer drawings with old-style welds, bends, rivets and polishing. Starting at the top, see crumpled and folded sculptural seats/tables in Crush! by London design duo Frederikson Stallard (

Here metal meets art. Julian Mayor ( is at Tent. His virtual computer renderings are painstakingly turned into real-life, super-shiny steel and copper chairs. Design superstar Tom Dixon ( works metal like no other. See Eclectic, his new range of small pieces at The Dock in West London now. The copper “brogue” doorstop is a new touch of whimsy.

More metal magic can be seen on wallcoverings, ceramic tiles and even fabrics, bringing light and glamour to small homes.

Information at

* (for Focus at Chelsea Harbour)

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