At NEO we believe great design is about evoking a feeling as well as aesthetics. We’ll be exploring creative ideas from design cities around the world; ideas that will inspire you whether you are refurbishing or refreshing your home. We begin the Spotlight series in London before traversing the globe.

Looking to history—in 1777 writer and poet, Samuel Johnson said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” And we agree with Mr. Johnson, 100%.

One of the world’s greatest creative cities, London draws people passionate about design. It has an anarchic personality bursting with energy and dynamism and remains the epicentre of the UK’s booming creative and cultural scene. 

Last month we loved exploring Frieze London. This contemporary art fair is held annually in The Regent’s Park. It is a must-see for home-makers, and art lovers alike—a brilliant way to find affordable works and new commissions by international artists.

A highlight for us was London gallery Sadie Coles presenting multidisciplinary Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (feature image). On display were his vibrant watercolours: studies in horizons and setting suns that represent the artist’s long-running fascination with dualities: day and night, artifice and reality, organic and artificial. He also favours long, unpronounceable titles in German – Vierterdezemberzweitausendundneunzehn, being one example from this latest body of work. 

For more eclectic tastes and to hunt for a bargain, Portobello Market remains unrivalled and has been famous amongst Londoners for hundreds of years. Stretching over two miles this winding Victorian-era street is home to over 1,500 antique dealers selling all manner of curiosities from glass to books, ceramics, maps, silverware and paintings.

One of our must-visit places is The Portobello Print & Map shop. They deal with collectors from all over the world and have an expansive, ever-changing stock covering myriad topics such as architecture, astronomy, botany, maritime and sport. There’s something here to please all collectors and for discovering an eye-catching original print or engraving to bring interest to your walls. 

Heading from West to East London, a trip to the Jasper Morrison Shop is something of a pilgrimage for lovers of industrial design—a modern interpretation of the classic hardware store. Opened in 2008 in an unused corner of the British designer’s studio it sells a variety of what Morrison terms Super Normal—discrete, anonymously designed objects; chosen as much for their usefulness and effortless familiarity as for their looks. 

Known for thinking outside of the box, Jasper Morrison is one of the most influential and successful product designers of the last few decades. Italian newspaper La Repubblica described him as “the anti-Philippe Starck par excellence.” 

So no aesthete’s stone gets left unturned the neighbourhood of Chelsea is a trove of objects and creativity for the home. A Pimlico Road stroll takes you to several top design houses: Jamb for fireplaces, lighting and furniture. Robert Kime and Christopher Howe for Interior Design, Soane for a celebration of British craftsmanship and the legendary Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler is a reminder of the roots of the place. 

On Langton Street the design ateliers Penny MorrisonGuy Goodfellow, and Toad are unmissable names on the Chelsea design map. 

Image credit: Penny Morrison

It would be remiss to write about creativity in London without mentioning the neighbourhood of Bloomsbury. It has the coolest name in the capital – say it; Blooooooomsbury. How fun is that? 

Bloomsbury is London’s literary and arts hub. Not only is it home to the world-renowned publishing house Bloomsbury, it is also the place that gave the Bloomsbury set—the bohemian group of British artists and writers, which included author Virginia Woolf and painter Vanessa Bell—their name. 

The area is known too for its extraordinary assortment of architecture, particularly the picture perfect Georgian Terrace Houses. However, there’s another side to Bloomsbury’s architecture. There are examples of uncompromising Brutalist buildings spawned from the modernist architectural movement, as well as remarkable Art Deco architecture and interior design.  

Tucked away on one of the leafy streets is the wonderful Pentreath & Hall’s shop, featuring an Aladdin’s cave of homewares and decorative items. It is a destination for those seeking the beautiful, the unexpected, and the unusual. 

Read on for further design ideas and inspiration