Designer show houses sprout up regularly in the United States–from New York to Palm Beach to Dallas (and occasionally in virtual form, like The Iconic Home from AD and the Black Interior Designers Network). Yet London, despite its profile as a showroom-packed, global design capital, has long suffered from a shortage of these ephemeral, collaboratively-made residences.
That changes today with the unveiling of Wow!house. On view through July 1, the showcase at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, is a 17-room marvel weaving together the work of British luminaries such as Colefax and Fowler, Kit Kemp, and Rita Konig.
Like many of the imaginative industry pursuits that have manifested over the last several years, Wow!house was born in a spurt of lockdown-induced creativity. After inspiring visits to the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, in New York, Claire German, CEO of Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, thought it was finally time to introduce the model to London. Open to the public, with proceeds from every ticket sold donated to homeless youth organization Centrepoint, Wow!house will unfold in Design Avenue, the Design Centre’s four-story atrium. “It’s large and full of light,” German tells AD PRO, and “all the designers are working with comparable spaces so it feels rather egalitarian—no one is stuck with a cupboard.”
The designers united for this project—established and emerging alike—reflect German’s own “wish list,” as she puts it, developed in tandem with the event’s steering committee and sponsors, including Colefax and Fowler, de Le Cuona, GP & J Baker, House of Rohl, Julian Chichester, Martin Moore, Morris & Co., Pierre Frey, Schumacher, and Tissus d’Hélène.
With each designer imbuing their respective room with a distinct style, visitors find themselves amid a classic English parlor setting one minute, and a romantic 1960s-style apartment the next. Beyond the ethereal facade of geometric mandala circles 3D-printed with bioplastic (courtesy of parametric architecture specialists Mamou-Mani), guests enter the Shalini Misra–designed foyer that illuminates the likes of a recycled plastic chandelier and a dining table crafted from lilac marble and patinated bronze.