Thursday, August 16, 2012 4:25 AM EDT
While I have many fond childhood memories of England (I’m of British descent, and qualify for dual citizenship), I hadn’t visited in decades before going back last September, as part of the inaugural Blogtour London trip put on by Modenus. Who says blogging doesn’t have a few perks? We attended many an event put on for London Design Week. The undisputed highlight was Decorex, a trade-only design show, similar to our Interior Design Show or the New York International Gift Fair but targeted at design professionals — and it’s ohhhhh so much better.
Silky Velvet Ikat/Southwestern Sofa by Andrew Martin. The Southwestern craze of the ’80s remains one of my biggest nightmares but this sofa is gorgeous.
One thing that made Decorex ohhhhh so much better is the fact that nothing else compared to it. To be entirely honest, most of the other events we attended were the wrong kind of familiar. “Oh, look, another molded piece of plywood that doubles as some sort of furniture!” Yep, total Go-to-OCAD-Student-Art-Fair-And-You-Will-See-The-Exact-Same-Thing kind of stuff.
That actually raises a great point. While I was growing up, my Grandma went back to England at least twice a year and always brought me back clothes or toys that were way ahead of trends in North America. Foolishly, I was still expecting to see the same last fall; boy, was I wrong. Fashions were literally what I was seeing on the street here in Toronto and there was more “Abandoned Belgian Farmhouse” and “Salvaged Junk Sold for Too Much Money” in the design stores. (Like I said: pretty much exactly what I was seeing in Toronto.) I was shocked at first but then realized — after thinking about it for two seconds — the cause: the web, AKA the great equalizer. Blogging, Pinterest and the like have made the world that much smaller. Sure there are small regional differences, but they’re mostly subtle; the bigger picture is truly worldwide.
So, sorry to say, I was pretty unimpressed with what we saw in the first few Design Shows we visited. Entirely not my style and while I can appreciate the thought and effort that went in to many of the pieces, I found it all to be a bit mushy peas/beans on toast. But then we arrived at Decorex. This was what I was waiting for. This was the showstopper.
Look, North Americans: Those ugly light switches don’t need to be in our homes! We have choice, people — we have choice!
What made Decorex so wonderful? First off, pretty much every booth has an open bar (I’m not exaggerating). I mean, shut the front door: I had the best mojito ever at the Clarke and Clarke booth, and this was considerably before noon. Ah those Brits sure love to drink! To be honest, beyond that, I don’t remember much more about that booth. Ha!
This table is a fingerprint warrior’s biggest nightmare. I love it. It’s also about $30,000 Canadian, before you go and get all excited.
Trend-wise at Decorex, it was fantastic to see the reverence for luxury and opulence. Sure there was some shabby chic and industrial steampunking but, more often than not, I was taken by an appreciation for quality materials and vivid use of colour, texture and drama. It was really everywhere.
I love this mosaic tile. I need it for my bathroom. Anyone wanna give me about 50 sq ft of it? Anyone??
I sincerely hope that this is a trend that North America soon embraces. The beige/greige/brown/grey/exposed bulb hanging on a wire/unfinished rough wood paired with wire metal thing has just become sooooo contrived and overdone.
That’s a lavender island. It’s a bit of a blurry photo because to my left was a huge sign that said “No photography.” Silly Canadians… couldn’t read the, um, British signage.
Bring on the floral chintz, rich silks and velvets, bold patterns paired with quiet neutrals, large scale lighting and polished brass. That’s what I’m talking about!!!
Nicky Haslam himself. He was fabulously fun. The bed he designed, not to everyone’s taste — but he definitely isn’t safe or dull!
How much did I love Decorex? The Thibaut Tanzania wallpaper pictured at the top of this post, I first saw there. It’s now in my office. Here’s hoping I’ll get back to England again soon — not in another few decades! Or, here’s hoping North America catches up!
What do you think of the British designs?