Annamaria Papayova is the winner of Focus/17’s Blogging Award, given to the blogger who best captures the spirit and themes of the event. The concept of ‘360 Degrees of Design’ was at the heart of Annamaria’s perceptive post (read it here); she covered it all, from Tony Marklew’s floral displays to Access All Areas showroom happenings and innovative new launches. The award was judged by Jenny Gibbs, principal of KLC School of Design, interior designer Samantha Todhunter and Grant Pierrus from design blog Interior Style Hunter. The judges felt that, besides Annamaria’s infectiously enthusiastic response to the show, she also kept a strong and distinctive voice throughout; they also praised her photography and strong visual sense.
Tony Marklew’s romantic, sensual way with floristry is being felt all over Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour at Focus/17. Dominating the Centre Dome is the DesignScope, featuring tumbling tiers of hops studded with pink and purple hydrangeas. Elsewhere, a single type of flower arranged abundantly proves that simplicity speaks volumes: a new variety of purple hydrangea – never available commercially until now – fills the Centre Dome; in the new Third Floor Food Market, pretty ruffled lisianthus look fresh in green vases; while a line of bowls of pink roses topped the central bar at Tom’s Kitchen at the Tatler Restaurant.
“Every space has its own vibe,” says Tony. “We used a more direct interpretation of the brief, and the main colours of pink and purple, in the main areas, and then it was just a case of [the Design Centre] trusting me with everywhere else.” Like all creative people, he says he looks everywhere for inspiration: “It might be a building, or the detail of a light fitting, or something in a fashion magazine. So many people do amazing work, but it’s your interpretation of it that turns it in to something new.”
Focus/17’s daily Discovery Tours offer the chance to take in the latest showrooms and get a more personal, curated take on the new collections, all accompanied by knowledgeable concierge Maggie Eccles and a glass of fizz. Six showrooms are visited during the hour-long sessions, including Design Centre East newcomers Villeroy & Boch, Siberian Floors and Lacaze London, and the new Design Space on the Third Floor of the South Dome, which houses Altfield, Jim Thompson and Wired Custom Lighting among others. There’s no better way to get the inside track.
The South Dome Deli is a new meeting and eating point at Focus/17. This all-day-dining destination features a counter packed with mouthwatering salad plates that look as good as they taste, including broad bean, puy lentil, tomato and goat’s cheese, and quinoa and roasted vegetables, plus healthy sushi and sashimi. The decor has a similar lightness of touch, with serene pale green paint from Zoffany at Style Library; the wallcoverings are ‘Grasseffects’ from Brian Yates and ‘Marquee Stripe’ by Cole & Son.
Ground Floor, South Dome
The instantly recognisable textiles of Italian brand Missoni have been translated into vinyl wallcoverings, newly available at Brian Yates. Alongside the famous Missoni zig-zags, the collection includes a subtle mini chevron and plenty of florals, including ‘Anemones’ (pictured, top); some cleverly mimic an embroidered finish. The Brian Yates showroom launched the collection with a collaged moodboard that took up a whole wall; visitors were invited to inspect the detail on the wallcoverings via a series of hanging magnifying glasses – a playful touch that reflects the irreverent patterns themselves.
An invigorating – and complimentary – cup of coffee from Vagabond Coffee Roasters is an essential part of a visit to Focus/17. Vagabond sources speciality coffees from around the world, roasting small batches of green beans at its north London HQ: it is made, and served, with love and passion. The company also shared its vast knowledge with a ‘coffee cupping’ tasting session, part of Focus/17’s Sensory Series Workshops. Similar to wine tasting, coffee comes in an amazing variety of flavours and characteristics – a world that can be unlocked with the help of the experts.
Second Floor, Centre Dome
The concept of Focus/17’s Sensory Salon is a simple one: to create a calming, regenerative space by stimulating five senses. Artist DD Regalo, represented by ArteMea Advisory, is painting the walls with a meditative piece inspired by life’s journey. The undulating ribbon of bright colour “is more than just that cliche of life’s ups and downs,” he says. “It’s more like the travelling of a path, trying to find meaning.” The initial inspiration was the visual timelines used to illustrate a well-known person’s biography, with the important dates marked off with vertical lines: here, those marks have their echo as long drips of acrylic paint that run down the walls. “I put the life in the line,” says DD Regalo.
While the mural, full of colour and texture, is taking shape across the week – giving plenty of reason for a repeat visit – the other senses are well-catered for too. Fine tea from Jing Tea, suppliers to many Michelin-starred restaurants, refreshes and revives visitors; Jo Malone London provided the scent and Bose speakers emit soothing sounds, enhancing the meditative ambience of the space. As for the sense of touch, that comes down to the rugs and fabric supplied by the Design Centre’s own showrooms: ‘Ikko’ (132430) fabric, rose quartz, by Anthology at Style Library and ‘Takenawa I’ and ‘Vigil 1’ rugs from Tai Ping.
Third Floor, Design Centre East