Stockholm, Miami, Milan, Paris, New York – at any one time there’s a must-see design fair going on somewhere in the world.
Thankfully, each September it’s London’s turn, and the movers and shakers of the international design scene flock to our shores for brilliant, vibrant, ground-breaking products, pop-ups, ideas and inspiration at the London Design Festival.
Among the showcases, talks and events by designers for designers, there’s much to please you and me – not least Lee Broom’s hotly anticipated 10th anniversary all-black installation of his capsule collection in his Shoreditch shop. Fairs and shows promise to introduce us to new names and fresh ideas, as well as, simply, beautiful things.
You can’t get to everything (LDF takes place right across the capital), but you will pack a lot in by heading west. Decorex (decorex.com) is always an exciting on-the-pulse showcase of interior design, and is an inspirational day out that’s not just for the pros. Inside, look out for Future Heritage, a curated collection of 11 upcoming designer-makers, along with Design Sense, which explores sight, sound, smell and touch.
“People come to London to see creativity, designers who are thinking beyond product, challenging what design can be, how it can be used”
Focus/17 at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour (dcch.co.uk) presents the new collections from the big hitters to the trade, but is also free to all from 20-22 September. If you can get there during the week (Design Centre is never open at the weekend) it’s the place to buy luxury, from beautiful fabrics and wallcoverings, tiles, rugs and carpets to blow-the-budget furniture, bathrooms and kitchens. With 120 showrooms and 600 brands, you’re bound to come away with something.
Of the design districts up west (Brompton, Pimlico and Chelsea), Brompton is the most experimental (see bromptondesigndistrict.com for a walking map). Launched in 2006, it offers a unique blend of high-end showrooms strutting their stuff (Boffi, Cassina, Molteni, Skandium etc) complemented by a cutting-edge programme of exhibitions, talks and events curated by Jane Withers.
“People come to London to see creativity, designers who are thinking beyond product, challenging what design can be, how it can be used,” Withers says. “In London, it’s about the thinking that’s shaping design”, which is borne out in Brompton’s 2017 theme, Other Stories, focusing on designers and practictioners who are stretching imagination beyond product.
On Cromwell Place, three adjoining four-storey townhouses make a pop-up venue of exciting new work. Withers says she is especially looking forward to the Details of Design photographic show (where custom-made detailing on well-known Modernist buildings is spotlighted); the way the various “design and social impact” projects come together as a cluster; Faye Toogood’s collaborative show of “swapped” objects; and Peter Pilotto’s installation of fashion and form taking over a whole house.
Start with breakfast at the buzzy pop-up Brompton Café by Today Bread, where all the furniture is for sale, then get out your small change for The Poundshop Cart (thepoundshop.org) selling new makers’ work (jewellery, stationary, homeware, gifts) for £1, £3 or £5.
Brompton has close ties with its neighbour the Royal College of Art, giving it an authentic groundswell of new talent all year round, but you’re also mere steps away from design behemoth the V&A (vam.ac.uk) and its large-scale installations and programme of events.
London Design Festival, 16-24 September (londondesignfestival.com)
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