Best of Blair's Britain? Images and icons meant to impress the French today

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The Independent Online
Bienvenue a la jeune Grande-Bretagne de Tony Blair! British-French summits generally take place in the oak-panelled and gilded silence of old country houses, like Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire, or at the equally traditional and splendid Lancaster House in London.

Mr Blair has ordered a change of tack, however. In keeping with his ``young Britain'' rhetoric, today's meeting with the French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, is being held on the 38th floor of the huge Canary Wharf tower in London's Docklands development.

It is not only home to newspapers like The Independent, the Mirror and the Daily Telegraph, but is generally considered an ambiguous monument to the Thatcher years. The Prime Minister, however, likes it for its breezily forward-looking atmosphere and has had the empty floor of the stainless steel tower fitted out with showcase examples of new British design, art, furniture and textiles especially for the occasion. The idea is to show the French that the British now do it just as well, if not better. Here Sir Terence Conran, the restaurateur and style guru, sits surrounded by glimpses from the summit rooms. fig 2. painting by Hockney; fig 3. light by Space; fig 4. rug by Christopher Farr; fig 5. Sir Terence Conran; fig 6. flowers by Paula Pryke

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