While design directions may come and go, the power of creative thinking is the one constant that will always endure in design. At Arte, technology meets artistry with the launch of Spectra (pictured). Using an innovative technique called thermoforming, a pattern is pressed into material that remains visible after it cools. The result? A 3D effect that is soft and supple, has the look of suede as well as acoustic properties. Perfect for walls, it can be used on ceilings and partitions. Recognising that sound-absorbing textiles can significantly help when it comes to achieving good interior surround sound, Création Baumann is another company that is uniting functionality and exacting aesthetics with the launch of its Printacoustic fabric. Made at its Switzerland-based digital printing facilities, it can also be customised.
A growing consensus towards the creation of ‘democratic museums’ that involve audiences is an emerging trend in curation. Visitors heading to Design Centre East may have noticed the Design Lab, a new hub of exploration inspired by an interactive museum. The specially commissioned space showcases products, usually found in an interior scheme, displayed in an original way as artefacts. Keeping to a ‘Science of Design’ theme, passementerie fringe by Samuel & Sons is shown as an anthropological headdress, hardware in different sizes and shapes by Houlès, Samuel Heath, Turnstyle Designs and McKinney & Co are displayed in a molecular pattern while ‘Luna’ pendants by Porta Romana introduce an element of astronomy. Geology is brought into focus with ‘Obsidian’, a digitally printed panel by Harlequin that resembles a glacial terrain, paired with lighting and furniture from Birgit Israel, Passerini and Bert Frank at Decca (Bolier), Marc de Berny and Charles Paris at Rubelli/Donghia. In Perspex vitrines, geometry is represented by wallcoverings from Lewis & Wood and tiles by Ann Sacks. Why not experience it all for yourself?
Ground Floor, Centre Dome (link to Design Centre East)
Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour is known for being the home of creative minds willing to think out of the box. Take furniture maker Decorus, which is pushing the boundary of surface design with its liquid metal finishes. These coatings create products with the look and feel of solid metal, without the associated weight and impracticality. Materials such as zinc, bronze, brass, white gold, aluminium and copper are ground into a fine powder and mixed with liquid before being applied to a surface or poured into a mould. The array of final finishes is impressive, from a thick impasto to sharkskin, and bespoke samples can be turned around in just a few days. Shown here is the ‘Arcadia’ console. The cast panel top and lower shelf showcase the infinite possibilities of these innovative finishes.
With a reputation for developing patterns with interesting visual narratives, Lewis & Wood has given a new lease of life to some hand-painted patterns by Huguenot silk weavers which they unearthed in the Victoria & Albert Museum archives. The artists, weavers and illustrators fled from France following the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and brought their silkweaving skills to east London’s Spitalfields. The new designs have travelled with little difficulty from the East End to the West End – and from 1720 to 2017 – and represent a beautiful addition to the Lewis & Wood portfolio. ‘Hanbury’ (shown here) is taken from an original design (shown below) by Joseph Danridge, a natural history illustrator and silk pattern designer, and is available as a wide width wallpaper.
Asking a designer where that first spark of inspiration came from often elicits a fascinating reply. For his latest collection, Pierre Frey’s creative director Patrick Frey was inspired by an encounter with an adventurer who had explored South East Asia on foot. The result is Maoming, a vibrant fabric range that honours the art of the Miao people from the Guizhou province of China. Characterised by ikats, batiks, pleats and geometric embroideries, it is notable for its vivid colourways and patterns.
Visitors can get deeper connection to the latest collections at the Design in Progress Gallery which tells the design and manufacturing stories behind the season’s most engaging products. Trace the design journey from start to finish via original material such as moodboards and sketches through to the finished work. Highlights include the ‘Coppélia’ pendant by Moooi (available from Chaplins). Original drawings by Japanese designer Arihiro Miyake explain how he has reinterpreted the traditional chandelier using steel wire and dozens of LEDs.
Third Floor, North Dome
Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour is an anthology of stories about designing and making. For many design professionals, that journey of discovery – finding out about an unusual method of manufacture – is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. They pass those stories on to their clients, imbuing the finished project with more emotional charge. In the Sushi Terrace, ‘Kodiak’, a faceted, mosaic-like design by Lori Weitzner, caught the attention of passers-by. It was created by artisans hand-plaiting strips cut from upcycled print media. “We like to challenge our clients’ perception of what a wallcovering can be by creating innovative materials that evoke curiosity, calm and beauty,” says the New York-based designer about her work. See more of her designs in Altfield.