Here is the first of my series of blog posts written for KLC School of Design. You can see the original here.
The Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour (DCCH) is Europe’s largest interior design shopping destination. With 102 showrooms and 500 international brands it offers London’s most comprehensive collection of high-end interior design stores. The brands housed at DCCH are most definitely the expensive ones but it is a fantastic resource for interior designers, particularly for sourcing fabrics and wallpaper.
The centre is comprised of three large glass-domed shopping areas supplemented by an additional set of showrooms in the Design Centre East, in the same building as KLC. The shopping centre has a slightly ethereal feel – other than during London’s two design weeks it is quiet, chilled out and relaxed and is about as far as one can get from the craziness of Westfield on a Saturday before Christmas. It is dog friendly – most of the showrooms welcome our four-pawed friends, which is handy as interior designers seem to be more likely to have dogs than any other profession except perhaps shepherds.
With so many brands to choose from it can be hard to navigate and so I have rounded up my five favourite stores – I like all of these showrooms because they sell fun, witty and unusual products and are the antitheses of the taupe heavy showhome blandness that high end stores can so often be afflicted by.
Porta Romana create fantastic lamps imbued with wit and humour, qualities that are generally missing from the world of lighting. Their lamps are expensive but are extremely good quality and will last a lifetime. Their perfume lamp and duck feet lamp are now iconic and I was delighted to discover their new range of cosy felt lampshades on my last visit. The other great thing about Porta Romana is that they can IP rate many of their wall lights rending them suitable for bathrooms. If you have every designed a bathroom you will know how dismal most IP rated lights are and Porta Romana are definitely one to bear in mind for this purpose.
Porta Romana, Ground floor Centre Dome DCCH, 0207 352 0440, portaromana.co.uk
With their Espalier wallpaper lining the walls of Ilse Crawford’s extraordinary inside/out dining room at Stoke Place in Buckinghamshire, and their Marabout fabric adding African charm to the walls of Kit Kemp’s subterranean 1950s bowling alley at Ham Yard, I think it’s fair to say Pierre Frey are a favourite of the star interior designers. I also love their more humble Indus Tise print wallpapers and especially love the green version.
Pierre Frey, First Floor Design Centre East, 0207 736 5599 pierrefrey.com
I am a huge fan of the resolutely English country vibe that we have come to expect of Mulberry Home. Flying ducks, gun dogs, lots of tweed and snuggly woollens bring to mind bygone days of shooting parties on faded country estates with copious amounts of tea, whisky and scones. I particularly love their flying duck velvet as shown on this sofa.
Mulberry Home, Ground Floor North Dome DCCH, 0207 352 3173 gbjbaker.com
I love having a rummage around Tissue d’Helene’s delightful showroom. With shelves piled high with folded lengths of hand-blocked and hand-screen printed fabrics it feels more like an Indian fabric market than a shop. Tissue d’Helene stock many different artisanal fabrics but my favourites are those by traditional American brand Sister Parrish. I particularly love Burma, Willow and Cecil Stripe.
Tissue d’Helene, Fourth Floor Design Centre East, tissusdhelene.co.uk
A relative newcomer to Chelsea Harbour, Ann Sacks brings stateside glamour to London. Here you will find the tiles from Carrie and Big’s kitchen as well as these stunning Mousharabia tiles by interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard which are inspired by carved wooden lattice screens and make plain white metro tiles seem rather dull.
Ann Sacks, First Floor Centre Dome DCCH, 0203 055 0802 annsacks.com