Did you see The WOW!House at The Design centre Chelsea Harbour?
If you missed it I have some great news for you! Did you know that you can still visit WOW!House 2022 for free via a 3D Tour?
What is The WOW!House?
The WOW!House is the first ever designer show house in the UK and certainly one of the most talked about interiors events of 2022. The WOWHouse took over Design Centre Chelsea Harbour’s central walkway, known as Design Avenue, for the month of July creating individual rooms curated by the world’s most renowned interior designers and makers and sponsored by Design Centre Chelsea Harbour showrooms.
The house is a mixture of design styles with each room created by different designers. Enter through an impressive entrance foyer designed by Shalini Misra and go on to discover more living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms. As you tour the house you can access QR codes in each room that refer to individual showrooms and craftspeople that supplied the furnishings, fabrics and decoration as well as the designers that created the rooms for more information.
How the first designer show house in the UK was created
The concept of the designer show house is not new. In the US The Kips Bay designer show house has been running since 1973, inspiring designers and supporting charities that help disadvantaged children. However here in the UK, Wow!House is the first time a show house has been created on this scale.
In this interview Claire Germain, CEO of Design Centre Chelsea Harbour explains how the idea was born during a coffee she shared with Bernie de Le Cuona, CEO of de Le Cuona, a fabric house renowned for the finest quality linens and fabrics. Bernie expressed to Claire the need and opportunity for the Design Centre to host a show house to showcase design talent in the UK and during the lockdown Claire took the opportunity to put the plan into action.
My WOW!House highlights
Entering the WOWHouse was a truly magical experience. An explosion of creativity and design to inspire. What is so wonderful about the WOWHouse was summed up for me whilst chatting to designer, TV presenter and United in Design founder Alexadria Dauley who commented that the WOWHouse is an opportunity to for designers to freely express creativity without the restraint of a client brief.
The results of this can clearly be seen in the layers and layers of fabric, not just on furniture but on walls and ceilings too. Colour and pattern combined to great effect alongside the most interesting collections of decorative objects, artworks and antiques. The WOWHouse was also truly immersive in it’s use of the soundscape by Peter Adjaye and Scentscape by Dr Vranjes.
Top 3 WOW!House rooms
It is really hard to choose favourites when surrounded by so many inspiring rooms but design loves are a very personal thing, an artistic expression of our lifestyle and the things we love and aspire to. So I’ve chosen rooms I connected with for various reasons which I’ve explained here.
The Day Room by Kit Kemp and Minnie Kemp
The Day Room designed by Kit Kemp and Minnie Kemp, I loved for it’s explosion of colour and creativity. I’ve always been fond of the Arts and crafts and Bloomsbury group as my grandparents had lots of pieces which are still around today – like my uncle’s sofa and chair that he’s had reupholstered every 15 years in the same colour Morris and Co Pimpernel ever since I can remember!
The beautiful Bloomsbury inspired hand painted cabinet painted by Tess Newall reminds me of the painted furniture at Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell (sister of author Virginia Woolf) and the heart of the Bloomsbury group which is close to my home in East Sussex and somewhere I love to visit.
The de Le Cuona Living Room by United in Design
The de Le Cuona living room was a breath of fresh air showcasing timeless, elegant design through classic upholstery in their fine linens and beautiful bespoke details through their accessories collection.
However the most remarkable thing about the de Le Cuona room was that instead of collaborating with an established designer, they gave the opportunity to two young desgingers on the United in Design apprentice scheme. Founded by designers Sophie Ashby and Alexandria Dauley the scheme aims to create more diversity and inclusion in the design industry by partnering with established brands in the design world to open up more opportunities to young designers from black, Asian, ethnic minority and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
I not only loved the design in this room but as a marketer I admire the brand’s innovative approach take the opportunity of using their presence at a high profile event to represent their brand values by raising awareness and giving back.
The two young designers Roshu Shrestha and Christine Omorere did an amazing job designing and project managing the installation of the room in the Wow House and they now have an enviable first portfolio piece to start their careers with. I hope this is a tradition that will continue with other brands in the future.
Tissus d’Helene Bedroom by Joanna Plant
Back in August 2021 on my Instagram I posted on how I noticed a trend appearing in skirts and stripes everywhere. I loved it and I asked designers how they felt about it. Not everyone was a thrilled as I was to see so much frilly fabric around. In the poll results only 23% were “Just for the frill of it” where as 77% were “Not a fan of the frill”.
One thing I noticed about WOWHouse is that there were frills everywhere! Layers upon layers of luxury fabrics, not a chair leg or bed base in sight, especially in this fairy tale Princess and the Pea bedroom for Tissus d’Helene by Joanna Plant which was full of frills and stripes too.
The other thing that drew me to this room was the French cast iron pastry table with the marble top at the foot of the bed. I’m pretty sure this is the same table that I helped my antique dealer friend lift into the back of a van on it’s way to it’s next owner. It was quite an ordeal and it nearly finished us off! You wouldn’t believe how heavy the marble is. Seeing it in this glamorous room was like catching up with an old friend – “Hey I remember you and look at you now!” You can just see the corner of it in this picture so here’s a link to see more.
So there’s my round up for you. If you missed the opportunity to visit this year here is a link to where you can still take a free virtual 3D walk through tour of the Wow!House on the design centre website. I predict the Wow!House will be even bigger and better next year so book early.
Which was your favourite room and why did you love it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.