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Design: Cleaning up at the Imperial Laundry

A unique event gives the public a chance to visit the private worlds of some top designers.
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OVER 90 of the most prestigious international design houses are joining forces to launch their new spring collections at this year's London Design Week. The annual event, evolved from Chelsea Design Week and Chelsea Harbour Spring Week, is taking place at a number of locations, now including The Old Imperial Laundry, Battersea, and Chelsea Harbour Design Centre.

On 24 March the exhibition is open to the public, which will give non- designers a chance to look inside the showrooms and understand the thoughts of designers whose work is usually snapped up by decorators and agents as soon as the ideas are down on paper.

This open day will be a learning process for designers and public alike, says Julian Chichester, of Julian Chichester Design: "London Design Week shows the public who a designer really is and what we actually do. Usually decorators will buy up original designs for their client before the public ever gets to see them. Design Week will be an eclectic mix of up-to-date ideas which can't be found in the shops, and will make it possible for the general public to talk to designers in their own showrooms."

According to London Design Week's organisers, "the Imperial Laundry and the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre have traditionally been limited to designers only. London Design Week will be a great chance for people to see what is new in design, and to buy work from up- and-coming British designers."

The organisers have laid on free transport between venues and there will be a series of lectures given by, among others, designer Kevin McCloud, and Anthony Paul, one of Britain's leading contemporary landscape gardeners, which, the organisers hope, will make the event accessible as well as educational.

For furniture designers Eddington House, this will be their first appearance at London Design Week: "New designs such as ours are usually ordered directly from us by designers and buyers in the trade, by-passing the public. Now people can not only get an overall view of what is new from smaller companies like us, but also become more involved in the design process and have a chance to see things they would not normally find in the shops."

Samantha Kingcome of Yeoward South agrees: "We are delighted to have this opportunity to let the public see our designs; we have so many unusual things to show them. We hope that people will walk into our gallery and feel inspired."

For details of transport, lectures, designers and venues involved in London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour, London SW10, contact the events office on 0171-351 4433. Chelsea Design Week is open to the general public on Wednesday 24 March, 10am-6pm. Julian Chichester's Designs can be found at Unit G1, Old Imperial Laundry, 71 Warriner Gardens, London SW11 (0171- 622 2928); Eddington House decorative accessories are at Unit D2, The Old Imperial Laundry, as above, (0171- 627 0079). Yeoward South sculptures by John Bedding in pottery and glass are at Space S, Old Imperial Laundry, as above (0171-498 4811); Fendi Casa are at unit 3/16, the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre (0171-795 0555)