London Design Week 2017 At The Design Centre - Unlocking The Secrets Of Design's DNA


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I'm delighted to say that this post was chosen as the winning blog post for London Design Week's 2017 Blog Award. The award is for the best post covering the event, and 'unlocking the DNA of design'. Thank you Design Centre Chelsea!

It was my first ever visit to London's highly revered Design Week at the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour this week. I'm an absolute interiors fanatic, but when it comes to design, I'm happy to admit that it is not my complete field of expertise. I have my favourite designers in the interiors world, and dip into design when it really catches my attention, but I would never claim to be a 'design expert'. I was therefore really excited to visit Design Week and be in the centre of so much creative innovation.

The large street lamps outside Chelsea Harbour have this beautiful stamp on them.

The large street lamps outside Chelsea Harbour have this beautiful stamp on them.

Design Week 2017 features 120 global, influential, interior exhibitors. It also hosts more than 100 events over the space of a week. This years event runs from the 12th - 17th March, so get down there by the end of the week if you want to see the event itself in person. It's completely FREE to visit, which I think is great. Cutting edge design can often be seen as something inaccessible to everyone, so well done London Design Week for making design inclusive to everyone with an interest in interiors.

The outside entrance to London Design Week 2017 was awash with beautiful pink faux blossom.

The outside entrance to London Design Week 2017 was awash with beautiful pink faux blossom.

The theme of this years event is the 'Science of Design', focusing on design developments "where ideas are shared and the future is shaped". London Design Week 2017 asks us to think about the DNA of great design, and if we as visitors can unlock its secrets. With this in mind, I submerged myself in London Design Week's offerings, and think about the code of great design.

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These illustrations are by Louise Collis as part of the Anthozoa Collection by Harlequin.

These illustrations are by Louise Collis as part of the Anthozoa Collection by Harlequin.

Being a compulsive decorator, my first stop was to fabric and wallcovering designers Harlequin. Part of their Design Week display was this mood board for their Anthozoa Collection, featuring illustrations by the collections designer Louise Collis. These beautiful illustrations depict sea life - tropical fish, coral and shells. 

Upon exiting Harlequin, the bright spring day drew my attention up to the top of one of the Design Centre's glass-topped domes, to the underwater display that I've photographed below. The top of the designs display had tiny reflective spinning circles that caught the sunlight when they twisted and turned. It reminded me of swimming underwater somewhere tropical, where you look up and see the sun shimmering on the top of the water above. I was beginning to make a connection between design and nature, and perhaps the scientific study of nature. Oceanology, perhaps?

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Science and nature can seem like very polarized opposites in some areas, science-based medicine verses homeopathic being one example. The development of science and technology can also be seen to be the cause of natures destruction, from fracking, to pollution from cars and factories. In other areas science and nature go hand in hand, as with Biology, Geology, Zoology and Oceanology.

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'Leopard Walk' (top) and 'Singita' from Cole & Son's Ardmore Collection.

'Leopard Walk' (top) and 'Singita' from Cole & Son's Ardmore Collection.

Zoology was something very present in Cole & Son's showroom, which was covered in their new wallpaper collection with Ardmore Ceramic Art (which you can find out more about here). Leopards, monkeys and zebras adorned the walls in vivid patterns, often accompanied with safari prints.

Outside in the Design Centre 'Salazar The Siberian Tiger', by Larry Walshe Floral Design, kept visitors on their toes with his hunting gaze. He had been "crafted, flocked and painted by skilled artisans as an exploration of anthrozoology and ethnobiology" (no, me neither, I had to Google both these terms. Basically, Anthrozoology the study of human interaction with animals. Ethnobiology is the scientific study of the way living things are treated or used by different human cultures).

'Salazar The Siberian Tiger', by Larry Walshe Floral Design

'Salazar The Siberian Tiger', by Larry Walshe Floral Design

This got me thinking while looking at different leathers by Holly Hunt in Fox Linton. The materials that remain popular within interiors, and never seem to go off-trend, are always based in nature. From the leather of our chairs and sofas, to the wood of our tables, and the continued popularity of natural stones (especially marble, which is again everywhere in interiors for 2017). In great design, is nature almost always the starting point for us to develop design upon? Is the science of great design intertwined with nature, like the helix shape of DNA? Does nature act like a recipe book providing all the proteins for the make up of great design?

Holly Hunt leathers in Fox Linton.

Holly Hunt leathers in Fox Linton.

The pattern of marble can be seen here in this lampshade by Porta Romana.

The pattern of marble can be seen here in this lampshade by Porta Romana.

This is certainly true at Savoir Beds, who use the finest natural materials to provide intrinsic comfort and luxury within their products. At Design Week they were showcasing their collaboration with Tengri, a British fashion brand and noble yarn specialist. Their Savoir No1 Khangai bed is made with premium yak fibres, hand-combed in Mongolia. Completely ethical, Tengri help fund and preserve the nomadic way of life, while providing a fibre to Savoir beds that is softer than cashmere.

One of the beds on display at Savoir Beds.

One of the beds on display at Savoir Beds.

A cross-section to show the materials that make up a Savoir Bed.

A cross-section to show the materials that make up a Savoir Bed.

Curled horse hair at Savoir Beds.

Curled horse hair at Savoir Beds.

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Some samples of the Tengri yak fibres at Savoir Beds.

Some samples of the Tengri yak fibres at Savoir Beds.

It is definitely fair to say that interior design is completely influenced by the natural landscape. Think how many times you have brought a paint colour, or described the colour of a fabric as 'forest green' or 'sky blue'. Pantone's colour of the year, Greenery, was widely visible at Design Week 2017. Colony's window was a riot of green with palm print wallpaper and an accompanying green sofa, as was Whistler Leather's swampy green sofa mixed in with botanical wallpaper and houseplants.

Neon Green artwork in the Design Centre East.

Neon Green artwork in the Design Centre East.

Faux green botanicals and vibrant faux orchids were used as a backdrop to Altfield's textiles.

Faux green botanicals and vibrant faux orchids were used as a backdrop to Altfield's textiles.

At Via Arkadia, a light box displayed detailed photographs of the make up of natural elements. There was the intrinsic pattern and spine of a leaf. There were photos of a cross-section of the layers that create stones and fossils. These photographs are attributed to the design of patterns and motifs featured in the showroom, and how their design had been influenced on the basis of Geology.

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The photographs on the Via Arkadia light box (top), and above, the design of the tiles featured in the showroom.

The photographs on the Via Arkadia light box (top), and above, the design of the tiles featured in the showroom.

Perhaps the best example of science + nature within great design was this giant Newton's cradle structure (complete with on-trend large terrariums), that could be found inside the Design Centre.

Perhaps the best example of science + nature within great design was this giant Newton's cradle structure (complete with on-trend large terrariums), that could be found inside the Design Centre.

I was lucky enough to visit Design Week when floral alchemist Larry Walshe gave his floral workshop on taking your dining table "from bleak to chic" with flowers. Larry is the official florist for London Design Week 2017, and for me there is nothing more powerful in nature, that carries over into great design, than flowers. With the huge variety of vivid colours, shapes and patterns, floral is a consistent feature in interiors. Different types of floral trends come and go, one year it's all shabby chic hydrangeas, for 2017 it's botanical greenery, but it is always there. For me, flowers are the ultimate inspiration, and make up a huge part of great designs DNA. When it comes to the design of a room, a simple pot of flowers is one of the simplest things you can do to transform the space - which is what great design is all about!

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Floral alchemist Larry Walshe in action.

Floral alchemist Larry Walshe in action.

Have you visited London Design Week 2017? What did you think? Did you unlock the DNA of design? Let me know in the comments section below!