The transformative power of good interior design, shown to the world at Chelsea

WOW!’s Giles Kime reports house, and recommends a visit to see it at the Design Center, Chelsea Harbor, before it closes on July 1.

Anyone in the ’70s and ’80s might remember the highly innovative and integrative style of the era’s greatest interior design practitioners, including David Hicks, Roger Banks Bay, John Stefanidis, and Tessa Kennedy, as well as the early work of Nina Campbell still at the height of her power half a century later. In the following decades, the ornamentation with a capital letter did not disappear, of course; It was never featured in so many new interior magazines that it was a decorator who relied more on shopping than paint finishes, beautiful furnishings, and carefully curated collections. In those days when the cold hand of simplicity made many of us in bondage, others remained faithful to the cause, like a solid group of wearers who continued to secretly enjoy the comfort, color, pattern, and texture afforded by classic English ornament.

If we’ve learned anything from the past couple of years, it’s that hard edges and inaccurate color palettes offer little help during tough times. The WOW’s home visit! On display at The Design Centre, Chelsea Harbor until 1st July, eloquently illustrates the joy of relaxed interior design and reflects the focus of a new generation of designers on the possibilities of carefully designed and layered decor schemes. Working with brands that have showrooms in the Design Center, such as Julian Chichester, GP & J. Baker and Morris & Co, the designers have created a series of rooms, including the living room, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, and dressing room, in particular. For a whole month.

Patio bedroom by Morris & Co. Photo: James MacDonald

The temporary nature of the rooms in the WOW! , like the one at New York’s annual Kips Bay Fair, speaks volumes about the transformative possibilities of décor; Within days, co-designers—including Emma Burns and Philip Hopper of Sybil Collifax, John Fowler, Rita Koenig, Bunny Turner and Emma Pocock of Turner Pocock, as well as Linda Boronkai and Brandon Schubert—performed that magic trick that never fails to impress the audience: They made something out of nothing. Designers achieve all kinds of amazing feats, from the delicate renovation of old homes to adding mood and character to new buildings, all the while reconciling the impossible hopes, aspirations and demands of clients. In the house of WOW! They started with little, but with virtual space dimensions and a floor plan.

The event is a celebration of a confident new approach to décor that has gained traction over the past few years. Not only are the succession of beautiful, carefully designed rooms that have a solar plexus effect, but the details that lift their heads and shoulders above each day: the lampshades hand-painted by Alvaro Piccardo for the exquisite Colefax and Fowler drawing room, the Egyptian-inspired velvet on the walls of the Pierre Frye salon by Design Linda Burunkai, the deep-red Westland marble fireplace in Brandon Schubert’s Morris & Co patio bedroom, and Blow bookshelves are in the Julian Chichester Library by Turner Pocock Design.

Julian Chichester Library by Pocock Turner. Photo: James MacDonald

With a wide range of distinguished designers hand-picked from the UK and abroad, it can feel like a home WOW! In sharp contrast as visitors move from room to room. Indeed, the quality of the rooms and the quiet confidence in which they are decorated create a cohesion that ensures they hold together beautifully. There is no hint of trend here, just the kind of aesthetic self-belief that is the mark of every good designer and allows them to push boundaries without scaring the horses.

Like the first ever cover of The world of interior design, who showed designer Anuska Hempel’s London home in 1981, looks as smart and relevant in 40 years as she is today. The timeless nature of a great interior has rarely been so evident.

A Tissus d’Hélène bedroom designed by Joanna Plant for WOW! house at Design Center, Chelsea Harbor

Show home WOW! Many things ; Combined with the perseverance and intelligence of those at the helm of the design center, Chelsea Harbor speaks volumes about what can be created with a great mix of style, color and texture – as well as creativity, intelligence and great amounts of hard work. What adds an extra layer of fascination is the fact that the spaces have evoked such a range of different hues from the designers involved, displaying not only the transformative powers of good interior design, but also that the possibilities are endless.

The WOW! program continues! House until July 1. Entry cost is £20 (£10 for students). A portion of the price of each ticket will be donated to a charitable partner, Centrepoint, to help end youth homelessness. Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, Lotus Road, London SW10 (020-7225 9166,

Schumacher Garden Room by Campbell Ray in the Design Center Chelsea Harbor. Photograph by James MacDonald.

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