There is a lot of European influence in the AERIN Collection, from the marbleized patterns of Italy to the rich Parisian history in the decorative arts range. So I always look to London Design Festival to see what’s current in European design. This year’s event was full of inspiration. Here’s what stood out:
Interior designers flock to this luxury tent to glimpse the latest trends in decor. Set up on the grounds of Syon House, home to the Duke of Northumberland, this year’s theme championed handmade design. To point, House & Garden’s VIP lounge was styled by The New Craftsmen, an atelier of British craftmakers with a cult following. At DeGournay’s booth, whose wallpapers I love, an artisan meticulously hand-painted a pair of panels on site. I’ve long been a fan and have its chinoiserie on the walls of my dressing room.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The V&A’s celebration of decorative arts makes it the heart of the fair. Highlights this year included special commissions by Faye Toogood, Barnaby Bradford, and Swarovski, as well as a retrospective on midcentury designer Robin Day. I have a soft spot for Lobmeyr, storied makers of Viennese blown glass—its collaboration with Austrian duo mischer’traxler was a showstopper. The installation, called “Curiosity Cloud,” featured dainty, hand-made insects fluttering wildly inside 250 crystal globes.
Irving & Morrison
On the grounds of an old Gas Works plant near Chelsea Harbour, designers Carolina Irving and Penny Morrison have turned a shipping container into a fascinating bazaar. Both women design interiors and fabrics, with Irving also serving as Creative Director of Oscar de la Renta Home, so the selection is well honed, including stacks of ikat fabric lampshades, hand-painted ceramics, throw pillows, Indian dhurries, and more.
The rooms in this iconic neo-classical building (film set of “The Duchess”) were brimming with thoroughly modern design. Pattern pioneers Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham created a highly Instagrammed Memphis-style black-and-white room, while Faye Toogood’s “Drawing Room” took the color scheme in a softer direction with chalky trompe l’oeil. Perhaps the best display came from Powered by Tweets, an exhibition where tweeted words were projected onto the wall in real time—a way of watching language being born as terms like “selfie” and “crowdfund” make their way into the dictionary.
Brompton Design District
A lovely neighborhood between South Kensington and Chelsea, Brompton Cross is a great spot to stop for lunch and tap into the pulse of the city. As the Design Festival’s original District, it continues to host a pop-up programme during the event. There’s a mix of high-end fashion boutiques alongside smaller French and English brands with a host of cafes and interiors shops. Everyone is talking about Alex Eagle’s new namesake boutique there, while Mint’s “Twisting Traditions” exhibition captured its signature mix of cutting edge design and handcrafted furniture. The area is a great representation of what’s hot in London.