Biden Designs was launched at Decorex at Royal Hospital in Chelsea in 2008. Decorex back then was more of a design festival than a trade show; a grand stand of Andrew Martin would be a feature of the event, which was surrounded by fabric stands with taller ceilings. A champagne bar in the middle was always busy.
I was pleasantly surprised by an appearance of my washi lamps in The World of Interiors October issue. I didn’t even have a PR representative and wrote my press release myself. However, I had a pretty good idea what to do as I used to receive many press releases for my previous job as a writer. Nothing in my life is wasted. I felt like I was already a part of the industry.
I quickly finished the setup the day before the opening and left the venue where people were frantically working away. I had a beautiful Kimono folding screen as a wow factor in the middle of the stand with a large lacquer sideboard. I had a pair of block printed paper panels, a pair of lacquered sea chests and two sets of washi paper lamps. That was it. Beautiful things from Kyoto which I loved but were rather expensive and I could only afford a few. Every item was handmade and there were no such things as samples.
The folding screen had an antique kimono with intricate embroidery from the 18th century which was mounted with incredible skill. The lacquered chests were made by Taku Seguchi who was the ninth generation of a lacquering family. The gorgeous surfaces were achieved with eight layers of lacquering and buffing in between each layer. The washi lamps were by Eriko Horiki, a world-famous washi designer. The block printed paper was from Karacho who started their business in the 17th century and were a purveyor to the imperial household. They just finished a renovation of Shugakuin Imperial villa.
Everything looked stunning. But, I admit I made so many mistakes. There were too few pieces on the stand. It was too Japanese and not fused to Western décor. Interior designers and architects wanted more bespoke options which some of my suppliers were not willing to offer. Also, the timing could not have been worse; the show was two weeks after the Lehman shock. The telephone did not ring. Emails did not arrive. There was a long bumpy road ahead of me.