Welcome to our monthly newsletter, providing you with the latest events and courses, trend forecasts, new sources, and answers to your interior design problems.

'We are seeing a shift towards enduring quality and craftsmanship: ‘heirloom’ pieces but with a modern sensibility. Contemporary furniture design, often associated with cheap veneers and built in obsolescence, is being recast in solid wood.  Simple and honest designs show off the material and the construction methods; and they don’t attempt to gloss over the flaws or irregularities inherent in natural products.

The ever-popular feature wall is softened and warmed with organic textures like grass, bamboo and linen or toughened up with concrete or plaster effects (see ArmourColor’s perlata paint finishes).

Companies like Elitis continue to push the boundaries of technology and design and, in trying to bring a 3D experience to flat walls, they inject a much-needed sense of fun to interiors. This quirky, humorous approach is guiding us out of the winter doldrums and into spring.  

Companies like Moooi and Megaron, Alessi and Moroso design products that add a wink and a smile to the rather worthy craftsmanship/new Arts and Crafts econo-movement that we’ve been crunched into.'

Staffan Tollgard of Staffan Tollgard Design Group www.tollgard.co.uk

'Staffan Tollgard has just started a new company called Redthread Design.  concentrating on commercial interiors. 'Red Thread' comes from a Swedish expression for the guiding principle underpinning creative endeavour; a red thread should run through every element of good design from the handshake of the building's entrance to the typeface of the restaurant's menu.' www.redthread-design.com

( Items by Moooi and Moroso from www.chaplins.co.uk )


Member Eileen Garsed of Shades of Choice was discovered through The House Directory, and will be featured on Channel 4’s new series Kirsty’s Homemade Home, starting on April 16 ! The programme focuses on renovation and restoration and will run for five weeks. Eileen will be shown on April 23 teaching Kirsty Allsopp how to make a lampshade. www.shadesofchoice.talktalk.net

This month don't miss (win free tickets !)

Exhibitions, sales, fairs, courses and events you should know about.

Baroque 1620-1800 (4 April-19 July), V&A, London SW7. Don’t miss this major exhibition on the first ‘global style’, in all its passion and exhuberance. Plus lots of related talks, concerts and study days. See www.vam.ac.uk

Sculpture by David MacIlwaine (April-Sept), Clifton Nurseries, London W9. Twenty playful wire sculptures (by the creator of The River Café’s flowing logo) will be on display at Clifton’s canal side garden at Blomfield Road, on the Paddington Basin. Prices from £250 to £6,000. www.clifton.co.uk

Interiors Sale (7 April), Christie’s South Kensington, London SW7. One of the regular Tuesday sales where decorators and collectors can pick up objects and collectibles in styles from antique to contemporary. www.christies.co.uk

Ardingly International Antique & Collectors Fair (21-22 April), South of England Centre, Ardingly, Nr Haywards Heath, West Sussex. This vast fair with around 1,700 stalls is only one hour from London. They are offering 2 for 1 tickets for the first 25 people who apply. Just phone 01636 702326 and quote The House Directory. www.dmgantiquefairs.com

The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair (21-26 April), The Marquee, Battersea Park, London SW11. A great source of competitively-priced antiques and 20th century design. Plus a selling exhibition on a Club Room theme, with sporting and gaming memorabilia, leather chairs and sofas, drinks-related items, library areas, etc. www.decorativefair.com For a free email ticket for two, contact pr@pipparoberts.com, quoting The House Directory.

Alfie’s Spring Festival (21-25 April, 10-6), 13 - 25 Church Street, Marylebone, London NW8. Many of the 75 dealers at London’s largest indoor antiques market will be offering discounts up to 30% on selected items including vintage fabrics, silverware, 20th century furniture, vintage advertising, mirrors and Murano glass chandeliers. Plus prizes, refreshments and late night shopping until 8pm on 23rd April. www.alfiesantiques.com

London Original Print Fair (22-26 April), Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens. The longest-running specialist print fair in the world will be celebrating its 24th year. It covers all periods of printmaking from the early woodcuts of Dürer and his contemporaries to the graphic work of contemporary artists such as Hockney and Hirst. www.londonprintfair.com

Chelsea Art Fair (23-26 April), Chelsea Town Hall, King’s Rod, London SW3.
A great variety of work on offer from 35-40 galleries, representing some 500 artists, both contemporary and 20th Century, plus original 3-dimensional works in bronze, wood, stone, ceramic and glass.
For free tickets, go to www.penman-fairs.com

TVADA Antiques Trail (24-26 April), Thames Valley, Oxfordshire. Drive through beautiful countryside and stop off at the 20 or so antique shops on this trail. They offer hospitality while you browse their stock of traditional and country furniture, contemporary & period art, smaller decorative pieces, designed & signed jewellery, glass, sculpture, textiles and more. Plenty of parking. For more info, times & map call 01993 882420 www.tvada.co.uk

Grand Designs Live London (25 April-4 May) ExCeL, London’s Victoria Docks. This vast show – sponsored by British Gas, and with Kevin McCloud as event presenter - has over 500 exhibitors and is packed with products, information, services and advice – whether for self-build projects or refurbishment. We have ten pairs of tickets to give away to readers of our newsletter, so email us now on info@thehousedirectory.com stating ‘Free Grand Design tickets’. www.granddesignslive.com
Ticket hotline: 0871 230 5577

Architectural Heritage Spring Preview (25-26 April, 10-4), Taddington Manor, Taddington, Nr Cutsdean, Gloucs. A special viewing of this well-known company’s new stock and launch of their 2009 catalogue of antique and contemporary garden ornament, statuary, fountains, panelling and chimneypieces. www.architectural-heritage.co.uk

Open Day at Sotheby’s Institute of Art (28 April, 3.30- 5pm), 30 Bedford Square, London WC1. Learn about Sotheby’s Institute of Art’s new postgraduate Design course at a special open day focused on design, photography and Asian art. Free of charge. To take part, email: open@sothebysinstitute.com For info go to www.sothebysinstitute.com/open-day

Ask the Experts

Selected from our free Q&A service.

Q. I'm looking for plain silk wallpaper, ideally in a vibrant plum colour..

Architectural Textiles have a range of silk wallcoverings in 18 colours from silk mills in Thailand, India, Japan and the Philippines. The raw silk is expertly laminated to a paper backing and finished with stain repellent. www.architecturaltextiles.co.uk
DeGournay are specialists in hand-painted silk wallcoverings; they also have a collection of plain silk slub and/or silk damask wallpapers. www.degournay.com

I’d like a colourful glass splashback behind my cooker. Whom can I contact ?

Rupert Scott makes unique handmade glass splashbacks for the kitchen or bathroom, made with the same specialist kiln-forming methods used for their tiles, fusing layers of glass with special enamels to create beautiful colours and textures. They come in standard or bespoke designs. Each splashback is made to measure, and can accommodate power points and taps with precision cut-outs. The company also offers a delivery and installation service in the UK. 0845-4507684 www.rupertscott.com

Sources of the month

Interior designer David Carter's beautiful Queen Anne townhouse in East London has been featured in many interiors magazines – now you can go and stay there! He’s set up 40winks and calls it “the world’s smallest boutique hotel”. If you are after somewhere classy and unusual to stay, the single bedroom is £65 a night, and the double is £80. www.40winks.org


'Interiors: Country and City' (by Piet Swimberghe with photography by Jan Verlinde) is an inspiring reference book with a really eclectic mix of lived-in interiors. No bland show-houses here!. The styles – from all over the world – range from Medieval to Mid-Century Modern, Moroccan to Scandinavian, Chateau to Loft, and Über-Modern to Cottage. It’s £32.50 from the RIBA Bookshop at Chelsea Harbour, or order it online at www.ribabookshops.com and if you spend £50, p&p is free.