Inside story on the new high fashion

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The Independent Online
We are all, it seems, delighting in the domestic. After claims that cooking was the new rock 'n' roll come indicators showing interior design to be the new hot trend of the moment.

Whether it be the fan-club gathering around the carpenter Andy Kane in the BBC's decoration show Changing Rooms or the survey showing 17 per cent of building society windfalls will be spent on furniture and carpets, nesting is very now. Magazines dealing with home, from the ice-cool minimalist Wallpaper to the more traditional Country Homes & Interiors, are seeing sales rise and advertising pages bulge. Healsfurniture and fittings store reports sales up 18 per cent.

The simple explanation is that the boom is down to the health of the housing market. But Sue Crewe, editor of House & Garden, believes more fundamental instincts are operating: "Even people in their mid- twenties and thirties are discovering the pleasure of creating an interior, which is very young. I think it is because everything else is so homogeneous, the same shops clog the high streets but at home you can express your individuality.

Suzy Hoodless, interiors editor of Wallpaper, said: "People are far more design-conscious. Design consciousness has extended from fashion into other areas of life."

Robert Whitaker, manager of the Fulham Road branch of the Fired Earth tile company, believes the boom is prompted by television and magazines: "The proliferation of ... programmes like Home Front has definitely had an effect. It is more than just the buzz in the shop when the designers off the TV are in here. People are more willing to have a go themselves and attempt much more sophisticated projects."

Programmes like Home Front, Changing Rooms and All Mod Cons are attracting good audiences for the BBC and provide relatively cheap programming, because they rely on ordinary people.

There is anecdotal evidence that interior designers are proliferating because of the boom. At pounds 50 an hour for the cheapest they may seem like a luxury for the elite, but Ms Crewe insists they can be worthwhile if they can provide some consultation, and sketches for under pounds 500. "The British tend to think using a designer is an admission of defeat," she said. "Which is ... dotty, because we don't try to fill our own teeth."

The most famous interior designers may be those who feature on television programmes, like Linda Barker and Graham Wynne, but to the cognoscenti, names like Nicky Haslam, Emily Todd-Hunter and Jonathan Reed are leading a wave of British successful design talent. Ms Hoodless believes there needs to be a redefinition of the term architect, because in her eyes the most important interior designers are architects like John Pawson, David Chipperfield or Urban Salon, who design not just decor, but change whole spaces and then design the furniture to fill it. The only worry for the designers, magazines, TV producers and the fittings and furniture- makers is that the pace of change among the trendy may mean that soon interior design may become the new rock 'n' roll .

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