‘A delightful parallel universe of creativity’ that’s been unleashed on London by ‘the world’s best designers at the top of their game’

Giles Kime takes a look at the 2024 WOW!house event and comes away exhilarated.

There’s a touch of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe about a visit to WOW!house. One moment, you’re in Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, the next you’re anywhere the designers want you to be: the ballroom of a Sicilian palazzo, a Gothic castle owned by generations of the same family, a bedroom inspired by the paintings of Renaissance and Baroque masters.

Now in its third year, WOW!house has never missed a beat; the centre’s role as one of the world’s most influential design hubs attracts a roster of British and international designers at the top of their game.

This year, the Watts 1874 Legend Room has been created by Alidad, whose capacity to design exquisite, classically inspired schemes of enormous complexity was first demonstrated at the British Interior Design Exhibition almost 40 years ago.

To create this room, he collaborated with Watts 1874, the 150-year-old textile and wallpaper company co-founded by G. F. Bodley. Its Malvern design is one of the stars of this extraordinarily detailed scheme. He’ll explain more in an event being held at 2pm on June 25, in which the designer will discuss the importance of history in his work; the event is being hosted by Country Life at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour’s design club.

The Watts 1874 Legend Room, created by Alidad, includes historic designs by the 150-year-old textile and wallpaper company. Credit: James McDonald

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It is detail that is the recurrent feature of this year’s WOW!house; in The Rug Company Dining Room created by the US designer Ken Fulk (who has created homes for Pharrell Williams and Gigi Hadid, no less), in the Jamb Primary Bedroom by Charlotte Freemantle and Will Fisher and in the Colefax and Fowler Morning Room by Lucy Hammond Giles.

What they demonstrate collectively is that considered, coherent design is at the heart of spaces with a feeling of intimacy, however grand. But they also express, oh so eloquently, that the greatest rooms have a capacity to delight and surprise.

As doubting Edmund discovered, seeing is believing.

The WOW!house runs until July 4 at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, London SW10. Tickets cost £25 each (two-for-one on Saturdays), £40 for a pair on weekdays and £10 for students. For details of WOW!house and the COUNTRY LIFE event, visit www.dcch.co.uk