As we enter the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, it’s time to enjoy the glorious golden light of September days, explore the outer horizons of new design and perhaps pick up something to enhance your home in the winter days to come. After eighteen months of events being cancelled or moved online, here is our selection of the very best festivals, fairs, exhibitions and trade shows happening this Autumn.
OPEN HOUSE LONDON, 4-12 September, all across London
If you’re quick, you can catch some of this….It’s an opportunity to sneak into some of London’s iconic public buildings, discover hidden design gems and join tours round some of the capital’s more architecturally interesting private dwellings, and all for free. If you’re interested in architecture, don’t miss. Open House London
TOP DRAWER, 12-14 September, Olympia.
Sunday 12th and Monday 13th Sept 9.30am-6pm, Tuesday 14th September 9.30am-5pm
This is the leading design and lifestyle show for new product from established brands and emerging trends. It’s a great source of inspiration and insight into what’s new in design across home, gifts, fashion and crafting, wellbeing and food. 1500 stands organised across nine sectors take up all four halls, it’s a must for those in the retail trade but huge so get your walking shoes on.
A full schedule of industry talks and panels run alongside support workshops, including Decorcafe expert, Karen Haller, on Decoding Colour.
Full details here.
FOCUS/21 20-24 September (19 Sept Virtual Launch), 10am-6pm, Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour,
For trade professionals and design fans, there is always a creative buzz around this biannual festival. It’s a celebration of all that’s new in the industry, a chance to learn about technological innovations and view the latest collections from new and established brands. This year, in addition to the 120 showrooms, there will be guest popups in the form of lighting, flooring and furniture makers, carpet and fabric designers.
The shows starts with a virtual launch on Sunday 19th and is followed by an in-person trade preview from Monday 20 – Wednesday 22, after which there is general access from Thursday 23 – Friday 24 September.
Decorcafe networking event: 21 September 11am, https://thedecorcafe.com/events/decorcafe-members-meet-up-at-focus-21/
Advance registration is necessary this year so that social distancing can be maintained, details – https://www.dcch.co.uk
FOCUS is part of the DESIGN LONDON FESTIVAL, 22-25 September. Worth checking out for other events – https://programme.londondesignfestival.com/?search=&design_destination%5B%5D=1
DECOREX, 10-13 October at Olympia (followed by Decorex Virtual Tuesday 16-Thursday 18 November)
An industry event established in 1978 and a highlight in the design calendar, Decorex is an opportunity for high end, interior designers to meet and learn about future trends, and for brands to showcase their latest designs.
There is a full programme of workshops and talks on every conceivable subject which, this year, includes: commissioning artwork and furniture to sustainability, life-work balance post-Covid, the importance of heritage, colour in interior design, storytelling and the relationship between sustainability and luxury.
Trade Visitor access over four days £18 plus VAT, public access Tuesday 12th Oct £40 plus VAT.
Decorcafe meet-up 11am on Tuesday 12th Oct – https://thedecorcafe.com/events/decorcafe-members-meet-up-at-decorex/
Full details and to register – here
THE DECORATIVE ANTIQUES AND TEXTILES FAIR, Tuesday 28 September-Sunday 3 October, Battersea Park.
Another well-established fair, launched in 1985 to bring together antiques traders and interior designers, this Battersea fair normally happens three times a year and this autumn’s is a welcome return after a difficult eighteen months. Its 150 exhibitors attract a regular crowd of designers and enthusiasts to a relaxed marquee setting where well-behaved dogs are also welcome. There is easy parking and a courtesy bus runs from Sloane Square but this year, admission is via a pre-booked online ticket system to allow for social distancing. Tickets are £20 per person on the opening day and £10 per person thereafter.
HOUSE & GARDEN FESTIVAL/SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, Monday 1-Sunday 7 November, Olympia
In its 20th year, Spirit of Christmas brings together more than 600 independent retailers and designer/makers under its roof during the first week of November. Fashion, gifts and treats, decorations and interiors loom large and the mezzanine is devoted to food and drink. More like a market than a fair, it’s proved an ideal launchpad for small businesses otherwise operating online to show off their product and get the word out. It’s also the perfect way for well-heeled to kickstart their Christmas shopping. There are a variety of ticket options starting at £21 for an adult day pass bought in advance.
This runs alongside the Winter Art & Antiques Fair (2-7 November with the preview on 1 November) which brings together 70 of the most prestigious dealers in the adjacent hall of Olympia.
CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW, 21-26 September, Royal Hospital Chelsea
Tuesday & Wednesday – RHS Members’ Days (21–22 Sep) 8am– 8pm, Thursday, Friday & Saturday (23–25 Sep) 8am – 8pm, Sunday (26 Sep) 8am–5.30pm
Long awaited and much anticipated, this is the return of the greatest show on earth as far as the gardening community are concerned. For the first time taking place in autumn, it will have a very different feel but experts and professionals alike are relishing the challenge of different colour palettes and later flowering plants that the change of season will bring. For many professionals – always busy in May – it will be easier to attend.
Full details here
STRAWBERRY HILL FLOWER FESTIVAL, Friday 8–Sunday 10 October, 11am–4pm
Tickets: Standard Adult: £14, Members & Patrons: £7, Students: £7, Under 14s go Free
This is the third year for Strawberry Hill’s popular Flower Festival, which brings together more than 30 florists and designers to demonstrate their skills with native flowers, greenery and dried foliage. Horace Walpole’s dreamlike villa provides the perfect backdrop for the colour and drama of their arrangements scattered throughout the house. Curated by Decorcafe member, Janne Ford, there are demonstrations, talks and workshops throughout the weekend.
Full details here
AFFORDABLE ART FAIR, 21-24 October,
Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, Queenstown Road, London SW11 4NJ, UK
Wednesday 20 October – Private View: 5.30pm–9.30pm, Thursday 21 October General Opening: 11am–5pm, Late View: 5.30pm–9.30pm, Friday 22 October, General Opening, 11am–9.30pm, Saturday 23 October, Family Hour, 10–11am, General Opening, 11am–6pm, Sunday 24 October Family Hour.
Thousands of artworks from more than ninety international galleries, a good opportunity to see and buy artwork from new and established artists, all priced under £6,000. The atmosphere is busy with plenty to eat and drink as well as family friendly activities and music.
Further details here.
WIMBLEDON ART FAIR 18-21 November
10 Riverside Yard, Riverside Road, London, SW17 0BB. Free Entry
All details accurate at time of going to press – please check individual websites to ensure events going ahead before making your plans.