As I sit here trying to type and organize words and thoughts into cohesive sentences to share with you, I wonder how to convey all the wonderful design and decor I saw in London. Design is very visual, but it’s also a textural thing and it’s one thing to see everything on a blog or on paper, but it’s impossible to adequately convey all the textures that are woven into a city called London and a continent called Europe. I will try, however, as best as I can.
London was a delight. I attended 2 museums and 4 trade shows, (a million restaurants and pubs!) and much like the rest of Europe, London is a juxtaposition. It’s rough and smooth, old and new, shiny and subdued, loud and quiet. It’s everything rolled into one. Londoners, like their European sisters and brothers, however, are not a juxtaposition. They are forward thinking, modern, fresh, vibrant, eclectic people. They are edgy, risk takers. By comparison we tend to be more complacent, much more conservative and reserved. We are not modern, fresh or vibrant. We are neutral and safe. London design is much a reflection of this modern, bright, colorful and new way of thinking and living.
Color. All 4 design shows that we attended, Design Junction, 100% Design, Tent London and Decorex were vastly different in style and product, yet the same themes travelled through and transcended each show. Europeans love color and pattern and design. They like bright and colorful. Bold, bright and shiny cohabitate beautifully in their world. I saw fabrics galore… fabulous fabrics in oranges, pinks, and peacock colors. Furniture, while more streamlined than ours in the states, stood proudly and majestically on showroom floors in wearing bright metals, looking more chic and sophisticated than tawdry or gaudy.
Shiny. Silvers, golds, brasses, coppers and other metals were found all over the place – from fabric threads to lighting to fixtures to hardware to furniture. Europeans have always loved shiny things. Shiny represents modern and new, which is how this old world thinks – forward, fresh modern.
Bespoke. Europeans have more respect for the craftsman and the art of the craft. It is revered and celebrated. It is a great part of European culture. As Americans we tend to prefer instant gratification. The box store is our best friend. In Europe the time and the skill of the craftsman is respected. The shows featured many bespoke items.
Sleek. As most European homes are smaller than our American homes, appliances are more streamlined to fit into these spaces from both a size as well as an esthetic standpoint. Nowhere is this most evident than in the kitchen. Ranges, fridges, ovens and sinks are simple and sleek. There’s no fluff, frill or ornamentation. The eyes focus not on superfluous detail, but the simple, linear clean design which is an art all to itself. Europeans are greener than we are and very environmentally conscious. Incinerators are not allowed at all in the United Kingdom and composting is required. Newer kitchen sink and countertop areas feature built in composting bins. Modern technology also plays a great part in these designs.
Modern. Despite their long, deep-rooted and rich history, Europeans love all things new. The way they dress and decorate their homes reflects these thoughts and ideals. I had the opportunity to chat with Steven Stolman, president of Scalamandre, while he was exhibiting at Decorex and he told me that Americans are much more reserved and much shier in terms of decor and our homes. We tend to prefer neutrals – they’re safer. Europeans are the bolder and riskier in their decor. He pointed out something interesting, to me, however. He told me that Europeans live in their homes for a much longer period of time than Americans do. We buy to sell. He also said that we decorate to sell. Neutrals sell a home, hence the neutral and paler color being a prefered color palate.