Design Directions 2023

From perfectly imperfect textures to bold blossoms, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour’s creative director, Arabella McNie, talks us through the design directions she has spotted for 2023


No spring summer preview would be complete without a nod to florals, but this time there’s a bold take on the direction when it comes to the strong colourways and playfully exaggerated scales of pattern that we are seeing.

It seems apt that the painter-gardener Cedric Morris’ Suffolk home, Benton End, was reopened recently and his legacy has been blossoming ever since. At Sotheby’s a lot of six paintings sold for large sums, whilst last year Erdem presented a menswear collection inspired by his work. It is the vivid palette of purples and yellows that really drew people to Morris’ work and it is those tones we are seeing throughout the bloom direction.

Desert Architectural

This next design direction is Desert Architectural which is all about playful pops of colour in amongst strong architectural silhouettes. When curating this design direction, we were inspired by the work of architect Luis Barragan, best-known for serene and graceful landscapes that include elegant houses, beautiful gardens, magnificent plazas and artistic fountains.

Barragán strove for an ’emotional architecture’, claiming that ‘any work of architecture which does not express serenity is a mistake.’ He used raw materials such as stone or wood which he combined with an original and dramatic use of light, both natural and artificial; his preference for hidden light sources gives his interiors a particularly subtle and lyrical atmosphere.


We’ve seen shimmer in warm tones come through interiors and fashion in a big way. Starting with the couture fashion shows in Paris last year where Dior had delicate hand-embroidery, shimmering fabrics and embroidered details right down to the tights on the models.

We’ve noted that for the most part, shimmer for the coming season is warm in tone – with shades of rose gold and copper seen throughout the collections – like sunbursts glinting through many of the designs – sometimes subtle and sometimes in an unashamedly maximalist way. It is also very textured and diverse in the offering.

wabi sabi design directions 2023

Wabi Sabi

Let’s talk about a trend that has beautiful natural textures – Wabi Sabi – which is about celebrating the Japanese aesthetic; a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’ in nature. It is prevalent throughout all forms of Japanese art.

The handcrafted feel of the Wabi Sabi design direction is enhanced by playing with the materials on offer and a sophisticated palette offering where deep blues, spice colours and charcoal tones add depth and vibrancy to a range of core neutrals.

Paper Cut interior design directions 2023

Paper Cut

The paper cut design direction is reminiscent of the work of Matisse, the French visual artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a printmaker and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

We see his inspiration clearly in Pierre Frey’s Rangiroa wallpaper and in the shapes of the Flirt fabric from Casamance at Colony.


Our final design direction is Wild – focussed on big cats in particular.

Last year was the lunar year of the tiger which has been celebrated by the fashion world and art world alike – including Gucci’s 2022 collection which was inspired by the children’s book The Tiger that came to Tea.

Last season we enjoyed the Animal Magic design direction and for SS/23 animal print isn’t going anywhere, however it is evolving.

London Design Week at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour runs from 13 – 17 March. You will need to register to attend which you can do here

Last year I interviewed Arabella about her fascinating work at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. You can read our Q&A here

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.