Capital trend that just won’t die

Why Annie Deakin thinks you shouldn’t tire of Brit mania at home

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The Independent Online

How long can the Brit mania last? Rather a long time, insist trend predictors and designers showing at this month’s interior exhibitions. With Top Drawer starting this Sunday and London Design Festival just a few weeks away, the capital city is awash with iconic – and subtle - London imagery. The longevity of this Brit mania trend, it seems, lies in the originality of the designers. Instead of plastering the Union Jack or tube map prints onto everything, designers realize an urgency for creativity. Expect to find innovative twists on the London trend; a sofa upholstered in that furry seating fabric in the Tube, trays decorated with raining cats and dogs and bulldog embossed wallpaper.

Last year, a micro trend for all things London was obvious at Top Drawer, a trade show for design-led gifts and this year, sees little difference. ‘With the arrival of the Olympics and the Golden Jubilee in 2012, we’re celebrating all things London at Top Drawer this autumn,’ say the organizers of Top Drawer. Back in 2009, market forecasters Trend Bible announced that the London and transport trend would be a long-term keeper. They initially flagged up the trend of transport and nostalgia for British icons in their Voyager trend showcased in their Spring/ Summer 2011 Home Trends book written back in 2009.

‘Many of our clients have had real commercial success with a type of British nostalgia-whether it is Union Jack cushions or vintage Queen Elizabeth photographic style prints,’ says Trend Bible founder Joanna Feeley. ‘But really the question they are all asking is how they can keep this look fresh and move it forward, since British nostalgia as a trend concept continuing to be important through 2011 and into 2012 with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics still to come next summer.’

The secret lies in originality and an aversion to splattering the Union Jack or tube map onto furnishings. In response to the tacky souvenirs and cheap throwaway London designs for tourists, Swedish designer Maria Holmer Dahlgren wanted to celebrate the city using contemporary graphics. The result is her London collection, which will be on show at Top Drawer this weekend. It comprises trays, mugs and aprons adorned with the Tate Modern, Brick Lane and Tower Bridge. Humour is key to her success; Dahlgren epitomizes well-known British idiosyncrasies as she pictorially sums up our wet weather with cats and dogs falling under an umbrella. Also showing at Top Drawer is ceramicist Kate Adams, of mydeco design boutique, who spent five years at Cockpit Arts where she established her London skyline tableware range. Each piece is thrown on the potter’s wheel, then individually illustrated with rugged versions of iconic buildings such as St.Paul’s Cathedral and the Gherkin.

Another such designer keeping the trend looking fresh is Lisa Whatmough, founder of Squint Ltd who recently collaborated with the London Transport Museum. The result of their partnership, unusual patchwork sofas, will be unveiled at Tent London, one of the largest design trade shows taking place during London Design Festival later this month (17-25 September). Whatmough’s patchwork sofas are made from the famous hardwearing moquette fabric that upholstered the transport seating across London for over 100 years. The iconic moquette patterns include the vibrant orange District Line pattern designed by Misha Black in 1978 and the still fashionable Green Line moquette. It's iconic, it's upcycling and its very British; an inspired twist on the London trend.

Book signings at Top Drawer will please city dwellers. Published this month by Batsford is a new book Love London which features 180 photographs taken by Barbara Chandler. Her exhibition Love London was shown in the picture gallery of Habitat in Regent Street in 2008 and her handmade photo cards are on sale at The Conran Shop.

How long can the Brit mania trend last? Many thought it would wane after the Royal wedding mayhem. How wrong they were. We’ve got at least until the Olympians have gone home.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for sofa and interior design website