The Cool Crowd Flocks To Top Drawer

Kensington Olympia

Kensington Olympia

The Top Drawer Trade Show is organised bi-annually by Clarion Events and is held at Kensington Olympia in Hammersmith Road in London, England. This Autumn's event was held on the 9-11 September.

Buyers for all sorts of retail and leisure shops and boutiques in the UK and abroad make a bee line for the wonderfully diverse selection of enterprises available at Top Drawer.

Around 1000 design-led brands promote their wares and creatively make the best use of every meter of space they are allocated for their temporary pop-up shops.

Interior Designers and industry professionals also attend and they are often looking to furnish a variety of contemporary spaces with the latest quality merchandise.

There is a relaxed but slightly exciting feel in the vast iron and glass hall which was originally built in 1886.
Bombay Duck Top Drawer

Bombay Duck Top Drawer

The first day at Top Drawer has the advantage of finding all the new products first and being 'ahead of the game' for a busy week ahead.

Many traders sell stock directly from their stands allowing early bird visitors to choose the finest pieces first.

There is also an opportunity to order limited edition items before they run out.

AH at Parlane Top Drawer

AH at Parlane Top Drawer

Travelling on a Sunday to Olympia is a breeze for many folk living within striking distance of the capital who want to avoid any rush hour hassle.

In the manor of a department store the Top Drawer show was split up into sections that encompassed the relevant product ranges for 'home', 'gift', 'greetings and stationary' ,'wellbeing', 'play', 'fashion', 'craft' and a 'food emporium'.

A key part of the show was the mini masterclasses, demonstrations and presentations on stage which added to the 'fashion week' atmosphere. Eminent speakers with specialist knowledge shared the latest thinking and tips for creative businesses.

Spread over the three days this 'retailfest' attracted audiences keen to learn about everything from colour and design theory, to tips on international trading in a digital age.

The Home area was full of stylish natural looking products that would fit happily in both modern and traditional homes and work spaces.
The British Colour Standards

The British Colour Standards

Generally most wood, bamboo, ceramics, glass, leather and metal pieces all had a simple handmade feel. Rustic and friendly looking pieces that could be incorporated into many spaces with ease were in abundance.

Several manufacturers offered ranges in soft light colours reminiscent of the 1950's.

Furniture designs were comfortable and reassuring.

Luxury looking feature pieces in opulent materials like marble or velvet had metallic accents and a timeless investment look about them.

Bombay Duck made a statement entrance with a tiled carpet made of bold and witty doormats.

Annie Sloan presented a range of pure and plain fabrics in calming colours to accompany the famously chalky paint range.

Corkicle at Top Drawer

Corkicle at Top Drawer

Parlane showcased faux flowers and plants blended with pared down and elegant interior elements. Forma stacked super pastel bowls and colanders that are made of environmentally friendly bamboo and corn.

The British Colour Standard was the forerunner to the Pantone colours widely used today.

The hand dyed silk colour dictionary transported us back to the 1930's with splendid names such as pertunia purple, grenadine red and Brunswick Green.

If this show is anything to go by then Christmas 2018 stores, homes and leisure spaces will be a wholesome mix of traditional green trees and old fashioned toys.

There will probably be a flurry of sparkling glass droplets reflecting against gleaming mirrors in December.

Forma bamboo bowls at Top Drawer

Forma bamboo bowls at Top Drawer

Organic decorations made from real and dried greenery, interwoven with fruits and berries will almost certainly be thrown into the festive mix.

Extra candles and oil burners will provide a warming scent of spiced spruce.

Richly decorative wallpaper may elevate the most sophisticated dining rooms, sitting rooms and bedrooms.

Muted deep jewel coloured walls are fashionable and useful for encouraging a more adult 'boutique hotel' feel for those in the mood to entertain and enjoy long evenings full of soothing music and cosy conversation.

Merchandise available in the gifts section emulated the themes from the Home area and also additionally aspired to lift the spirit.

Small but beautiful and cleverly designed items that would be both a joy to give and receive could be found at many gift companies exhibiting.

Forma ceramics at Top Drawer

Forma ceramics at Top Drawer

Prints were unique and bright with crisp graphic patterns that are either botanical or from some exotic jungle.

Most of the striking gift items would happily enliven any home that would otherwise be rather too neutral.

Newcomer to the show Lily Juliet from New York spread out a glowing rainbow of opalescent acrylic bowls and kitchen accessories.

These Lily Juliet marbled pieces often feature shells from the far east encased within.

Corkcicle arranged in neat rows numerous gorgeously shaped and durable steel water bottles. The special portable drinks containers were decorated in liquorice allsorts tints.

The exhibition continued with small businesses stands groups on large 'wellbeing' mat.

Grand Illusions at Top Drawer

Grand Illusions at Top Drawer

The catalogue promised to quench “an indulgent expression…the endless quest to nourish body, mind and soul.”

The play area contained the strongest hues and merchandise to tempt any inner child with a “brand new treasure chest (which) has every kind of kids stuff.”

The jewellery and fashion accessories displays were situated on the first floor and gave the visitor an opportunity to meet the latest designers all in one place.

Bags were simple and functional with leather being popular. Scarves were voluminous, woven and heavy looking for the season and available in every paint box pigment. Jewellery was very wearable and made out of rose gold, gold or silver.

Delicate shapes and chains with simple designs and stones.

A dash of glamour and glitter was added by Annie Sherburne with her handmade diamante earrings, necklaces and brooches guaranteed to add some party spirit to the holiday celebrations.

Parlane Xmas at Top Drawer

Parlane Xmas at Top Drawer

We ventured off piste to the realms of the food emporium where we were tempted by the wonderful array of hand crafted delicacies. The thought, time and passion that had gone in to all the heavenly produce was impressive.

Delicious confectionery at Lavolio included little sugar eggs with marzipan and nuts and a whole host of fun and nutritive flavours.

Aelder Elixir was selling an distinctive elderberry liqueur made in Scotland that is perfect to heat things up as the temperature falls.

The Hawkshead Relish company produce over 100 relishes, pickles and preserves.

We particularly liked Hawkshead Relish's chunky Christmas table version.

New start up business Cult vinegar lead the way with an impressive combination of very tasty tonics that also improve gut health.

Tii-Pii is a novel brand from down under that has reimagined the hammock

Tii-Pii hammock at Top Drawer

Tii-Pii hammock at Top Drawer

The large cone shaped canvas hanging basket to relax and enjoy time alone of with close friends and family comes in its own carry case like a tent.

We have added one to our garden wish list but you can use them to make a snug hideaway indoors too.


The sheer quality of the home, fashion and food ranges on display at the show was extremely encouraging and an indication of the ambition and the determination to succeed in small British business right now.  

Bombay Duck

Annie Sloan

Lily Juliet



Aelder Elixir

Hawkshead Relish

Cult Vinegar

British Colour Standard

Tii-Pii Annie Sherburne