THE HOUSE DIRECTORY LIVE X THE DECORATIVE FAIR

At the beginning of May, The House Directory hosted The House Directory LIVE at The Decorative Fair in Battersea Park. Bringing together leading brands, key industry figures and design experts, the exhibition also showcased a range of high-quality products and bespoke home services from specialist suppliers, craftspeople and professional restoration companies. Here, The House Directory CEO, Angel Tan gives us the lowdown on the inaugural event.


How and why did the collaboration between The House Directory and The Decorative Fair come about?

Since its launch in 2001, The House Directory has maintained a strong media partnership with The Decorative Fair and many years later, we took part as exhibitors to expand and develop our antiques and art network. The idea to collaborate on the live event stemmed from discussions I had with the organisers and several interiors companies who frequently visit the show, and had expressed an interest in exhibiting. It became clear that there was potential to bridge the gap between these design brands and the world of antiques, vintage, and salvage.

Angel Tan, CEO of The House Directory

What companies did you host?

There was a really diverse selection of exhibitors including established companies like Samarkand Design, who offer lampshades made from vintage sari fabrics, curtain and blind manufacturer Pret a Vivre,  bespoke rugs by Clive Rogers, and Must Have Bins. These sat alongside emerging artists and brands such as UC Studio, who create wonderful compositions using butterflies and beetles, QEST scholar Phyllis Clar Smith a decorative painter,  Pugh Too, who make fabulous cushions from antique and remnant textiles, artist turned fabric and wallpaper designer Julie Kuyath and skilled upholsterers Franklin & Hare.

A stunning beetle composition by UC Studio
Samarkand’s Colourful Stand
Upholsterers Franklin & Hare on their stand at the Fair

In addition, we created a Brand Showcase stand to represent other suppliers and services who are featured on The House Directory online. These included Forbes & Lomax’s luxury electrical fittings, Coromandel Crewel’s exquisite crewelwork fabrics, hand block print wallpaper from Bruce Fine Papers, recycled metal, hand-formed planters by Bronzino and colourful archive-inspired fabric and wallpaper from The Design Archives. Contemporary art gallery Ruup & Form and bespoke in-situ artists, DKT Artwork were also represented.

The House Directory LIVE – brand showcase

What were some of the workshops that were on offer?

We held daily demonstrations in our Makers Area. Highlights included appliqué by textile artist Natasha Hulse, marquetry by conservator Elyse Vaudron and marbling by Phyllis Clair Smith. Franklin & Hare also hosted a live upholstery demonstration, which was fascinating. Another really standout moment was The Creative Dimension Trust charity takeover day, where three brilliant makers demonstrated their skills in leatherwork, flower drawing and the creation of passementerie, which is an endangered craft

 

Clockwise from top left: Natasha Hulse, appliqué; Franklin & Hare – upholstery; Phyllis Clair Smith – marbling ; Elyse Vaudron – marquetry

Can you tell us about the talks at the fair?

The talks were hosted by interiors journalist Busola Evans and were a great success. Topics included ‘How to Buy and Use Antiques in Interior Design’ and ‘The Rise of Modern Craft Interiors’. We also held a workshop called ‘The Marriage of Light & Art’ with John Cullen Lighting and DKT Artworks and there was a wonderful Q&A with bespoke florist turned fine art photographer Harald Altmaier and Joe Chaffer of Vagabond Antiques, who discussed their friendship and how they’ve collaborated over the years. Videos of the talks will be available online at The House Directory soon.

 
Interiors Journalist Busola Evans with panellists Maddie Ainsworth from Cox London and maker Candice Lau – on The Rise of Modern Craft in Interiors

You launched ‘The Restoration Guide’, which is a collaboration between The House Directory and Salvo – tell us about that?

The idea for the guide came about a year ago during a chat with the Salvo team. We were saying how great it would be to have a book to promote and encourage craft and restoration culture so we decided to team up and combine our directories, and the Restoration Guide was born. It features excellent tips, a directory of restorers, craftspeople and sustainable designers and stories from restoration ambassadors such as Jay Blades MBE and interior designer and natural paint manufacturer, Edward Bulmer. The book sits alongside The Salvo Pocket Guide, which lists Salvo Code suppliers who are all chosen because they meet high standards in responsible sourcing. Both publications were launched together at the fair. You can buy a copy of the books here, or alternatively, register for a free digital copy here

The Restoration Guide – a collaboration between The House Directory and Salvo, Cover inspired by ‘Brick’ and ‘Header’ by Edward Bulmer Natural Paint.

Tell us about your charity partner The Creative Dimension Trust – how did you come to work with them?

The charity was introduced to me by Wendy Cushing, who is a longstanding member of The House Directory. Wendy works with the charity passing on her skills in the art of passementerie. The aim is to inspire young people to pursue a career in craft so they connect craftspeople who then become tutors for students who are interested and have an aptitude in that particular area.

The Creative Dimension Trust Takeover. Clockwise from top left: Wendy Cushing Passementerie; Artist Sarah Hocombe; products for sale made by the young people trained by the craftspeople of TCDT ; Leatheworker Candice Lau

Who came to the show, and have you had any feedback?

As well as the regular fair attendees, guests included members of the press, stylists, interior designers and fashion designers, also, the art and antiques dealers and enthusiasts who were keen to deepen their knowledge and network within the industry. This combination of professionals and enthusiasts created a fantastic atmosphere. The initial feedback we’ve received from exhibitors has been really positive and lots of people have commented on the strong sense of community, which has in turn led to opportunities for cross-networking and collaboration between the brands and suppliers.

A show-stopping bas relief panel by DKT Artwork, lit by John Cullen Lighting. The backdrop for a successful workshop on how to light artwork delivered by the brands
On How an Artist and Dealer Collaborate. Angel Tan with guests, dealer Joe Chaffer of Vagabond and Artist Harald Altmaier.
“On How an Artist and Dealer Collaborate”. Angel Tan with guests, dealer Joe Chaffer of Vagabond and Artist Harald Altmaier

Going forward, how do you hope to build on the event’s success and how do you hope to grow it next year?

We’re so proud of the rich resource that is The House Directory online and it was a joy for us to curate a live event that celebrates our members’ expertise. Going forward the aim would be to showcase a wider range of suppliers and services with an emphasis on bespoke and craft skills, as well as sharing the inspiring stories of the founders and craftspeople in our community. We’d also like to introduce more interactive demonstrations and hands-on workshops. Ultimately, the vision would be to make the event a cornerstone of the craft and antiques community and hopefully, next year will be an even more impactful and inspiring experience for everyone.

 
The stage is set. Headboard by Natasha Hulse, Planters by Bronzino, Paint by Ed Bulmer and furniture by Retrouvius
Headboard by Natasha Hulse, adorning the stage of The House Directory LIVE. With the perfect “Brick” backdrop by Edward Bulmer Natural Paint.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about The House Directory LIVE. If you’re interested in taking part in Spring 2025, please contact the team here.

 

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