On Sunday I attended Decorex 2018. It’s an event on the design calendar that I go to every year and the past 2 years have been outstanding in terms of showcasing new talent and expertly crafted products. This year I felt it had steered back towards big bling for the most part and there were many stands that I skipped past because they were products that I would never specify. Obviously Decorex is an International event that caters to many different styles and tastes so I’m sure there were plenty of designers that were drawn towards the shiny stuff, but it’s just not for Studio JQ.
What always makes me feel a little deflated about these big brands is that they put someone on the stand to represent them that can’t (or won’t) answer simple questions. If a product catches my eye I want to know what it’s made from, where it’s made, how it’s made, who makes it, how long it takes and how much it costs. If I ask how much it is, it’s because I want to discern for myself if I think the price tag reflects the value of the item before putting it forward to my clients, not because my clients can’t afford it. Go to a stand like Sebastian Cox, Faolchu, RHMB or Kansa and they can answer all of these questions in depth and their level of passion they have for their products is inspiring.
Nevertheless, I’m glad I made the trip because it gave me the opportunity to chat to some people I’d never met before, make some contacts with new suppliers and source new products. Lighting was a particular highlight for me this year and I was pleased to see some new innovative designs that I’m sure I’ll be specifying on upcoming projects. The guys on the Kansa stand were a joy to chat to and their hand blown glass pendants were a thing of beauty. Marc Wood was also another wonder, his drops pendant would look amazing in a central stairwell.
There were several new textile houses there as well this year, not as many as I’d have liked to have seen though. I’m not sure how it works in terms of hiring a stand, but I would hope that new start up studios and emerging talent get a severe discount on the list price to encourage them to showcase their products. Nice to see some interesting new patterns and the colour palette was bright and fresh.
In terms of furniture, much of it was the same as in previous years but there were several pieces that caught my eye for looking as good up close as they did from afar. Quality is so important and the first thing I do when sourcing furniture is look underneath, open drawers and doors, feel the joins and give it a wobble. I had a lovely chat with Rob from RHMB and his wonderful London Plane furniture, and also Pippa from D.I.Designs about her Vietnam furniture. The guys over at the Artisan Collective talked me through the possibilities of their metal coatings and I was stopped in my tracks by one of Barbara Barrans’ rugs hanging at the back on her stand because it reminded me so much of my favourite painting by Gustav Klimt, The Kiss.
After a quick 2 and a half hours whizzing around Decorex, I headed into Piccadilly for the Heatherwick talk at the Royal Academy. Sundays are a dream for parking in London and I managed to find a free spot in St James’ Square. Walking up Jermyn Street past Tramp nightclub where we danced the night away many years ago after the racing awards, I arrived at the RA, stone glinting in the sunshine, red banners gently blowing in the warm September breeze. I headed up Burlington Arcade to the new entrance and made my way to the Benjamin West lecture theatre to take my seat, excitedly anticipating the talk I was about to witness.
As expected, Thomas Heatherwick was a delight, and ridiculously captivatingly modest in his straightforward descriptions of his projects, as if it was merely the simple process of them coming to the obvious design conclusion after a period of thought, which of course is not the case. Heatherwick Studio is pushing the boundaries of what buildings (& products) can be and they’re adept at really squeezing the juice out of their creativity, which is just wonderous. I could have listened to him talk all afternoon but sadly they wrapped it up after an hour to allow the next lecture to file in after us.
I emerged from the lecture feeling buoyant and refreshed, and wandered slowly back to the car taking in the sights and sounds of Piccadilly around me. There was a musician playing a beautifully sorrowful tune on a violin as I dropped back down onto Jermyn Street and two little twin girls no older than 3 had broken free from their mothers hands to run up to the lady playing the violin and stand in awe looking up at her. Thankfully the mother saw the joy in her girls faces and allowed them to stand and listen to the music for a moment, as did I. All too often we’re busy rushing off for the next meeting or event and we don’t allow ourselves to stop and listen to the music and enjoy the moment. That’s all that life is, moments. How many have you enjoyed today?
Director & Head of Design
Studio JQ Ltd