Design Centre Stories

Design Dates Revisited

Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour launched the Design Date webinar series in May to keep the community connected, engaged and inspired. Matching acclaimed designers, industry insiders and charismatic hosts for insightful conversations, the overarching theme of the series is creative collaborations; exploring the dynamics of great design partnerships and what is possible when great minds come together.

It has been heartening to see the momentum the talks have garnered as the initiative flourishes, with attendees from across the globe, including Hong Kong, South Africa and the USA, tuning in for pearls of wisdom from the giants of the design world.

If you missed any of the conversations, sign up to see them in full here while new Design Dates are announced here. Keep an eye on social channels @designcentrech and search for #DesignDateAtDCCH for more information about future events.

Here’s a recap of some of the impactful insights and memorable moments that have already been shared.

Heralding the launch of the series, Kit Kemp, founder and creative director of Firmdale Hotels, joined Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin, as they explored the power of the collaborative spirit with moderator Giles Kime, executive editor of Country Life. Waller was drawn to collaborate with Kemp on a fabric and wallcovering collection due to her “amazingly distinctive style and wonderfully bold colours and patterns,” while Kemp, who is no stranger to collaborations, having worked with the likes of Paul Smith and Wedgwood in the past, was safe in the knowledge that there was strong synergy between them.

During the conversation, they were asked what makes a successful creative partnership. Kemp reflected: “Freedom of thought and creativity is needed.” Waller agreed, adding that, from a brand perspective, “you have to get out of the way. It’s easy to bring along your own baggage but that would make it a pointless exercise. The whole purpose of a collaboration is to get that designer’s point of view and you must not dilute it. You have to bottle that exuberance. If you try to interfere too much it is not going to work.”

The second edition of Design Date was a transatlantic one. Renowned designer Lori Weitzner, principal and creative director of Lori Weitzner Design, and Michael Cohen, president of Samuel & Sons, explored the secrets of time-honoured artisan skills, experimentation and new techniques in creative partnerships. Moderated by Sophia Salaman, executive editor of The World of Interiors, they discussed their collaborative working relationship which is 14 years strong.

The dynamic pair reflected on how their chance meeting in LA was a pivotal moment for Samuel & Sons. At the time, Cohen had been noticing the need to offer their client base something other than the traditional trimmings and Weitzner was the ideal candidate to push the boundaries of possibility with her fresh perspective and her background in textile design. Weitzner, who sees trim as “jewellery for the home,” commented on her open and honest dialogue with Samuel & Sons and cited their enthusiasm for trying new things as the key to their success, “Michael is always open to my ideas. He always says ‘let’s try it and let’s give it a go.’”

The third edition of the series saw Ann Grafton, MD and creative director of GP & J Baker and interior designer Suzy Hoodless explore the remarkable alchemy that collaborations can generate with Hatta Byng, editor of House & Garden, as moderator. Hoodless designed a room for the GP & J Baker showroom for Focus/19: using the new ‘Rio’ velvet design on the walls, her handsome office space put a contemporary twist on a classic fabric. Commenting on the partnership, Grafton said: “Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour is here to inspire and we need to use our showrooms as a showcase to persuade designers and clients to do something brave and different – otherwise it can sometimes be hard for them to imagine. It was an inspiring thing for Suzy to do.”

Hoodless reflected on what it takes to establish a meaningful collaboration: “There has to be chemistry and the best thing is when it grows organically. I had used GP & J Baker for years and had always loved them, so working together was a simple next step.”

Most recently, Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour hosted renowned interior designer Martin Brudnizki and Andrew Hills, creative director of Porta Romana, who spoke to Sarah Spiteri, editorial director of Homes & Gardens, about the crossover between where we live, and where we stay. Exploring their collaborative partnership, they expressed why craftsmanship and choice of materials have never been more important in creating designs of enduring beauty for both hotels and homes. Reflecting on their synergy, Hills said that “Martin and I both have an obsession with detail and a sense of perfectionism.” Continuing the collaborative theme, Porta Romana will unveil a collection with Kit Kemp at Focus/20 in September.