Sunday, October 2

Musings from London: the English hit the "Sweet Spot" of design - top picks at Decorex

Journals of the 
English Aesthetic
while visiting Decorex -- annual interior design show
at the swanky 
 Royal Hospital Chelsea in London
as you may know from last week's post,
I just returned from 7 days in London on a sponsored tour via to report on the
London Design Festival,
which is spread out at various events, symposiums and expos throughout the sprawling city
 I saw all these wares at either
Tent London,

Richard brendon's delicious Tea Cups

Along with all the other fun and inspiring experiences while in London, we got to spend time with a talented group of English bloggers. 
Here's two who offer up informative blogs: 
  Celebrity blogger Andrew Dunning's take on Decorex.  Andrew was hand picked by the exhibit to write about the happenings surrounding London Design Festival. 
And, check out spunky Brit blogger Hannah Coleman of DreamWalls who generously profiled us on her site!

Abigail Borg wallpapers seen at Tent London

the English love a layered design
but modern English
is pared down and edited, edited, edited

we acted like locals and took the Tube to the regal former Chelsea Hospital
and the annual world-famous Decorex show. 
Here's the skinny...

we arrived to a live green wall
It's official I'm an anglophile. 
 I love the positively elegant accent. 
I have long loved the English cottage look and the sophisticated, yet comfortable feel of the 
champagne bar over at London's Decorex interior design show is the epitome of this style. 
 It hit the
 "sweet spot"
 for me
between warmth, elegance, country, yet modern and urban all rolled together into one look.
 Check out the flowers loosely and magnificently arrange by

Tom Flowers

 the fabric-covered walls in the champagne lounge is by 
Tissue d' Helene
(see source information below)

 the space was designed  by interior design firm

 I like how they covered this chair with a simple, repeat pattern fabric (from Rapture & Wright:  see details below), yet trimmed
it with the unexpected simple raffia trim
the mirror topped bar, the modern overhead fixture with strategically placed Baccarat crystal champagne flutes and LOVE sign all in the center of this busy design center provided a warm, cozy yet sophisticated place to stop and have a rest, nibble and toast!
The English have a handle on this design aesthetic: 
the perfect combination of high end, old-world elegance
mixed with fresh, modern touches. 
A medley of the much-loved simple Georgian influences, an undying love for the garden and an affinity for well made quality products. 
I like how the English like to mix it up, and pare it down.
When stirred up in a quintessentially English manner of combining low end,
almost gritty details with high-end elegant pieces the finished product is
elegance with ease. 

In my opinion, this is hard to discern and there are many that have gotten this look wrong.  I personally was never a huge fan of the uberly popular Shabby Chic that made it's way through the US with a vengeance.  it somehow had tried to capture the English manner, but came across as more shabby and less chic and just too contrived. What I love about English style is how it feels authentic and curated over time -- concepts I write about often on Nest.  It may be items you've picked up along the years of travel, some family heirlooms, a tad bit of flea market finds and new modern designs brought in as well --
all put together in a way that, well, works! 
the sweet spot 
I'm also not a fan of overly formal and uncomfortable homes where you feel unwelcome and intimidated.  Yes the furniture may be beautiful but how it's all put together makes one feel put off and not encouraged to sit down and enjoy the space. Somehow the English manage to add beautiful high-style with period antiques as well as state of the art cutting edge modern designs and yet they put it all together in a way that is inviting. 
Often an English home feels comfortable first
and later you notice all the layers of beauty.

It's the English sweet spot I'm after here and having just returned from  a week-long jaunt through the Festival I have a few favorite finds to share and help you attain this look.  It was hard to narrow it down because Decorex was chock-filled with stylish and well made wares.  I was positively floored by all the design inspirations and sources I scoured on the floor. 
Here are some favorites.


The English Home

I came across this fabric company at
The English Home
and checked out their appliqued fabric
which for the first time can be purchased online by the metre. 
These distinctive patterns are dramatic and range from baroque velvets to linens and jutes.  I love that we now have access to these designs. The English Home makes high-end furniture  but has paired up with UK's Brian Yates to offer these fabrics.

I am crazy over Rapture & Wright's fresh two color linens in very new, fresh and modern designs.  It's hand-printed and also offers custom designed work as well..  These fabrics are offered in the NYC D&D building at Jerry Pair showroom
Raptures and Wright fabrics

quite different but equally alluring is fabric from

This company represents a group of fabric lines that have an old-world quality.  In the past they were represented in NYC in the John Rosselli showroom, but currently don't have a home in a NYC.  They are a wonderful combination of French and English country and are great quality -- I hope to see them back available in the States again soon.
We popped over to Chelsea Harbour Design Centre --
here I am
 admiring this Kelly Green fabric
I came upon the Italian showroom, Dedar and was floored by the dramatic black walls of the space and how they splendidly showcased the fabric line. 
There was a beautiful display of a new fabric line from Hermes
(yes Hermes and we were all smitten). 
Dedar has paired with Hermes to create these unique fabrics fashioned after their ties and scarves. 

Dedar fabrics can be found in the Jerry Pair showroom of the D&D building in New York City.  I was not able to photograph the Hermes fabrics and I was sworn to secrecy but expect Hermes fabrics to be available in the US soon.  Take a look at Dedar's new collection debuting this week.  It is a tactile experience to take in Dedar fabrics because the quality is exquisite and the color choices are plentiful.

this woven leather fabric is extraordinary


Who knew that felt could be so lovely and woven in such an artist manner? 

Over at cutting edge show, Tent London
I met this talented young lady Penelope Jordan
and she does a fantastic job of weaving felt into beautiful art sculptures (see left) and photographing some of her works in frames.

garden accessories

Bronzino containers are for both garden and home.  I spoke with owner and designer Kenneth Topp and he was a perfect English gentleman.  Quite high end in metalworking craftsmanship these containers are lovely, and almost too pretty to put dirt inside...take a look at these gorgeous works of art


traditional furniture with a distinctly modern interpretation, Julian Chichester's furniture hits the sweet spot.  Some pieces are offered in the US at George Smith, but many are still only available in the UK.

I am not the only one noticing Julian's designs, check out this month's issue of House & Garden magazine, where they wrote a full feature editorial on his modern, fresh take on traditional furnishings.

October 2011 issue House & Garden magazine
describes Julian's long history of bringing traditional furnishings to the market but by first injecting his own unique modern take on these pieces. 

Columbia Road Flower Mart, London
there's so much more,
but if I keep rambling I'd be guilty of printing a book
not a blog. 
Until next week,
when I'll bring you views from Columbia Road Flower Market
 plus my favorite bath company in London!
Part III: musings from London Design Festival


Anonymous said...

Hi Tamara, thanks for this sliver of sunshine. I love it all: the tea cups, the English roses and all the great tips and links to these London finds. I'll check back again soon and don't worry I'm saving all in my little black book. Barbara Wheeler

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

A great post and I love the fabrics shown by Tissues d'Helene!! Thank you! ox

carriesdesignmusings said...

Loved seeing Blogtour thru your eyes and I admire that English aesthetic on this side of the pond. FYI... you look great in kelly green

Anonymous said...

I am hoping to go to London during design week next year. You make it look like a worthwile trip across the pond for us decorators. I can see the sources are slightly different as well, but mostly it looks like a great time. Got to get organizing this trip with my group of designer freinds - thanks and keep up the good work. Stacy Hutchinson

Anonymous said...

I love that fabric and it does look like it's vintage from teh 40s. I have a vintage clothing store and would love to add some of that fabric to the mix with my older versions, maybe make some pillows. thank you for the source.