The Focus fair is a firm fixture of this month’s London Design Festival, which takes over the city from September 14 to 22. This year’s show, a bastion of luxury interiors at Chelsea Harbour’s Design Centre, beloved of designers and well heeled west Londoners, raises the bar with experiences that range from meet-the-designer sessions and workshops to discovery tours and artisan demonstrations.
Conversation in design
Some of Britain’s best known designers – from David Mlinaric to Luke Edward Hall and Flora Soames – will take to the main stage for a series of panel discussions throughout the show. Head to “The Tailored Home” on September 17 (11.30am to 12.30pm) hosted by How To Spend It’s architecture expert Dominic Bradbury, who will be chatting to Anthony Collett and Andrzej Zarzycki, founding partners of the architectural design studio, Collett Zarzycki. Together, they will reveal the stories behind a 30-year portfolio spanning London townhouses to Tuscan retreats – all underpinned by bespoke craftsmanship.
Several inspiring showcases can be seen throughout the Design Centre. GP & J Baker has collaborated with interior designer Suzy Hoodless to celebrate its Rio velvet collection – a patchwork ikat that will launch at Focus. Hoodless has selected the fabric in emerald and used it on the walls of her curated pop-up as a foil to a curated mix of furniture, lighting and accessories. Arteriors, meanwhile, has created the Medina Lounge with interior design studio Hill House – a fusion of rich spice tones, delicate beading, embroidery and handcrafted pieces “championing artistry and global design”, according to Hill House director Helen Bygraves. Designer Nina Campbell will transform her showroom into “Nina’s Apartment”, where her signature style will set the scene within the entrance hall – featuring her new mahogany Fitzgerald drinks cabinet – drawing room and bedroom. Kit Kemp, creative director and co-owner of Firmdale Hotels, will also be in attendance, and has teamed up with Blithfield to create a pop-up showcase juxtaposing new printed linens and weaves with embroidery by the charity organisation Fine Cell Work.
Meet the designers
Belgian star Vincent Van Duysen will make an appearance at Sutherland Perennials Studio to discuss Otti, his new outdoor collection for Sutherland Furniture, while Mattia Albicini and Luca Martorano, founders of Italian design studio Draw, will visit co-collaborators Ceccotti Collezioni. Fashion designer Paul Costelloe is to present Chevrolet, his first furniture collection with Ventura, which is handmade at its Dublin workshops. Designer David Dolcini is set to fly in from Italy to talk about his new collection for Porada, which includes the Lum floor lamp, featuring a blown-glass diffuser on a solid canaletto walnut stem set on a bronze oro base. Meanwhile, architect Andrea Bonini will appear at the new Turri showroom – a space he designed – to chat to visitors about his work. Alexander Lamont, whose atelier is said to be the largest producing straw marquetry and employs over 25 full-time artisans (among other craftspeople), will be present to promote the art form through his latest collection, Le Mur. Last but not least, Andrew Winch of Winch Design will be taking to the main stage to talk about the power of the collaborative spirit. The studio, known for its work on superyachts as well as residences, has teamed up with US brand Summit Furniture to create its new Arc collection, which can be seen at the show.
Meet the artisans
Porta Romana has partnered with studio potter Dylan Bowen and artists Viola Lanari and Gareth Devonald Smith to produce a collection of lamps, and its creative director Andrew Hills will be hosting a series of discussions to discover more about the collaborative process. Dylan O’Shea, co-founder of A Rum Fellow, will be at the George Spencer Designs showroom to talk about his experience of hand weaving, while explaining the cultural history and processes behind its textiles, how and why it works ethically, and how traditional craft can complement contemporary interiors.
Discover why Jean Cocteau remains a constant source of inspiration in modern design at a discussion by Emmanuel Lelièvre of Lelièvre Paris, as he reveals the genesis of the brand’s latest collection of wallcoverings, based upon the artistic polymath’s original works. Kirkby Design is also divulging some of its secrets at the show, revealing how it has teamed up with Transport for London for a second collection of contemporary velvets derived from the moquettes used on the Tube.
San Patrignano is an Italian craft workshop rehabilitating people with addiction problems and teaching them traditional skills. Interior designer Paolo Moschino at Nicholas Haslam is bringing the not-for-profit organisation’s wallcoverings to the UK, and has arranged demonstrations of wallpaper handpainting to engage visitors. Moschino will also make an appearance during the show to talk about the process. Morris & Co’s latest Melsetter wallpaper collection pays homage to the unsung hero of the Arts and Crafts movement May Morris (daughter of William), and is planning hand-block-printing demonstrations throughout the week. Afghan rug weaving will be shown at Christopher Farr, demonstrating its creative collaboration with Turquoise Mountain, an organisation that promotes Afghan craft. During the live demonstration, visitors will have an opportunity to learn how designs are translated from concept to handmade carpet and observe the techniques that are still used to this day.