It’s often difficult to take time out of the office but this week I had the perfect excuse as I had been invited to attend the Top Drawer exhibition at Olympia. With a strap-line claiming “Adventures in Design for Creative Retailers” I found this too good an opportunity to miss.

This is an exhibition for trend spotters as it gives a keen insight as to what will be coming to the High Street and on-line stores in the coming months. Divided into four distinct areas for Home, Gift, Fashion, and Craft, it was an extremely busy show with exhibitors filling the ground floor and overflowing onto the mezzanine above.

One of the most imposing stands was manned by Nick Ronald of Grand Illusions. I have fond memories of attending one of his furniture painting courses at the shop in St. Margarets and still have the aged wooden coat pegs to prove it. Having recently published a book entitled Paint Vintage the stand was a chic piece of architecture housing a range of painted furniture brought to life with sophisticated accessories, and of course, the Grand Illusions range of Vintage Paint.

Another of my favourite on-line stores was present, Nkuku. Specialising in Fair Trade Homeware and gifts, this was another imposing stand, mainly featuring tableware, lanterns, and soft furnishings.

On a more frivolous and colourful note the Tintin stand, and Lake District based Herdy products stand, both caught my eye. 

Gifts, homeware, and accessories, designed to raise a smile, were originally based on the lovable Hardwick sheep. The Herdy Fund helps support local sustainable rural community and upland fell farming projects.

Realising that time was moving on, and that there was still work to be done back in the office, I grabbed my coat from the cloakroom and headed back to the train station.Only as the train pulled in did I realise that the Newgate clocks all differed in time and that perhaps I could have stayed a minute or two longer.