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Best of British

By NDA Interior Design Tutor Vicky Arbuthnot

2011 is a great year to celebrate all things British.  The Royal wedding aside, vintage Britannia interior accessories are fast becoming the statement style of the year.  However, there is much more to this trend than meets the eye.

From April 2011 on the Southbank in London, the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain will be celebrated with a series of special events to mark the occasion.  From Tracey Emin’s first major survey show in London (Hayward Gallery, 18th May to 29th August), to celebrations of ‘National Treasures’ and ‘Great Thinkers’ including the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Roy Walker and Paul Daniels, the four-month event commends the best of British culture and creativity.

Paul Daniels aside, the 2011 Festival (from an Interior Designer’s perspective anyway) is a chance to applaud the dynamism, creativity and longevity of some of our most well-loved and treasured British design icons.  The influences of Robin and Lucienne Day have always been clear over the last 60 years (who hasn’t sat on a Robin Day Polyprop chair?!) and it was really this formidable duo that set the country alight all those years ago with their energetic and timeless designs.

In a nod to Lucienne Day, Mini Moderns have created the ‘Festival’ wallpaper that celebrates all that was good about the Festival of Britain 1951.  As the Creative Directors of Mini Moderns state, “The design features highlights of the 1951 exhibition. Geometric shapes interplay with abstract representations of the iconic Skylon, the Dome of Discovery and the Royal Festival Hall. Its linear forms reflect the modernist architectural vision of structures specially commissioned for the festival”.

 “Calyx” by Lucienne Day
“Festival Wallpaper” by Mini Moderns

However, if these quirky prints are a little eccentric  for your taste, Fired Earth have teamed up with Kevin McCloud to release a Mid Century Colour Palette that will undoubtedly bring some 1950s inspired design into your home.  Colours from this capsule collection are bold and optimistic and capture the spirit of the time making them utterly relevant for today’s home.

Mid Century Colour Palette by Kevin McCloud

Although there has been much debate over the decades about the importance and influence that the Festival of Britain 1951 had upon the country and the design legacy it created, the resulting collections for the 2011 celebrations surely acknowledge the significant and cultural influence upon the design industry today.

Designers and consumers alike have embraced everything from the quirky to the slightly more subdued, however if you fancy embracing this style but don’t know where to start, why not have a read of Lesley Jackson’s new book ‘Robin & Lucienne Day: Pioneers of Contemporary Design’.  If there was ever anything to inspire your inner retro design lover, 2011 is the perfect opportunity to do just this.


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