London Design Festival - I'm just here for the furniture
Three weeks into living in the U.K. and right now my main focus is getting my business rolling over here. My kids are officially both in school and I now have 4 full days a week to dedicate to work. I am still working on clients in the U.S. and I am super grateful for that - but I would love to get some local clients going sooner rather than later.
I still need to get a business registered over here and get my VAT number but those things are easy in comparison to developing an entire new resource list. Vendors, tradespeople, workrooms, vintage dealers… All the things I kind of had a handle on in California.
About 6 weeks before we moved I was trolling the internet for European design shows and saw that London Design Festival was on just 2 weeks after we move - boom. I quickly booked a room at the Ace in Shoreditch because hey! I’m cool. I’m hip. (right?)
So last weekend I jumped on the train and in a quick 2 hours 15 minutes I was walking through the streets of one of my all time favorite cities. Got to the Ace and quickly realized I was on the exact opposite side of town from the trade shows I needed to attend but at least I was cool. right?
I looked through the seriously extensive program for the design festival but the reality was - I’m just here for the furniture. What I needed was a solid list of quality, modern, eclectic furniture vendors/designers that I could pull from when I do finally get some design clients in Harrogate (or London?!). I walked and took three trains to the Chelsea Harbour Design Center for Focus/18. What I realized quite quickly was: 1. all design centers are the same 2. 90% of these vendors are not my vibe at all 3. all design centers are boring. Sorry if this is controversial but out of over 100 vendors I walked away with 5 business cards. I was happy to see some of my favorites - Arteriors, McGuire, Stark Carpet - so that was reassuring but I started to feel like maybe my California aesthetic was going to be a really hard sell in Blighty.
One of the vendors I did fall in love with was British lighting company Original BTC. The have a wonderful modern classic look and all their fixtures are made in the U.K.
I nearly decided to call off the LDF18 and just seek out great stores that might be more my style and try to see who they carry but at the last minute I decided to move forward with my plan to go to 100% Design. Man was I happy I went. Total breath of fresh air.
First vendor I found walking through the door was the INCREDIBLE furniture maker, Benchmark. Clean lines, Scandinavian vibes, heirloom quality, made in England. I was smitten.
I also found a lighting and hardware designer that just happens to be based in Yorkshire! They designers a fun and their price point is amazing. Dowsing & Reynolds even have their own range of paint!
Another incredible vendor I fell in love with was Concrete LCDA - these guys are create seriously gorgeous interiors with concrete. Seems like the sky is the limit with their offering but I was particularly taken with this super thick concrete counter top:
Their use of concrete panels for walls and decorative accents is just stunning. They even had a panel that looked like traditional picture frame moulding. Just endless possibilities.
Another highlight was Joined + Jointed, who focus on creation through collaboration. They bring designer and artisans concepts to market at an accessible price point. The craftsmanship is excellent and the products are beautiful.
Needless to say 100% Design was a win. I left feeling reenergized and like I had found my design groove. Hallelujah.
On the way back to the train to head north I stopped by Adventures in Furniture in Islington, which from the website doesn’t look very exciting but the store was bang on. Clean, modern furniture - helpful staff. They carry Ethnicraft, which is one of my favorites! I will definitely use them as a resource (possibly even for our place ;-).
And since I had to pick up my bag in Shoreditch, I swung by SCP. This place is incredible. Total design haven! From the furniture to the lighting to the accessories - everything was just so well curated. A perfect way to end my little design pilgrimage to London.
Now that I have nailed down some solid resources I feel ready to take on some interior design projects here in beautiful Harrogate.
Have a favorite furniture designer in the U.K.? A great tile resource? Send them my way!