There is a British invasion taking place in the country -- in home design. Given this year's Queen's Diamond Jubilee and now the summer Olympics, everyone is going gaga over those folks on the other side of the pond.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is featuring an exhibition celebrating the best of British design and creativity from 1948 through the present. It showcases the transformation of design in Britain since the postwar Austerity Games, when London hosted the Olympic Games. Some highlights include the Laura Ashley legacy, Robin Day chairs, Tom Dixon lights, and British textiles applied to stationery, tea towels and fashion.
And the British-based Farrow & Ball, manufacturer of traditional wallpapers and paint, is about to launch its "Best of British" campaign. In it, top interior designers from around the world create a British decorating scheme using the company's paint colors and handcrafted wallpapers, all of which are created in Dorset, England.
"People are obsessed with English style, from classic to very modern," says Yaphank-based interior designer Tricia Foley, former creative director for Wedgewood China in London and New York who also covered the United Kingdom for Victoria Magazine. "It is not the traditional 'Laura Ashley' floral look. It is more clean, clear color, just changing the scale to make it look fresher and up-to-date. Traditional elements with a new twist."
Other home design trends Foley says she is seeing here in the States include a renewed interested in making things by hand, as well as artisanal crafts like pottery, felt making and hand-sewn goods.
"I think there is a strong movement here and in the U.K. that more people are affected by technology and they need a balance in their lives," she says. "They need the sense of the hand and of natural materials. The cover of the West Elm catalog and Williams-Sonoma has a whole farm section. Now, you can buy chicken coops. It is pretty amazing."
Lots of primary brights are coming out of Britain, such as electric bright neons, yellow-undertoned reds and acid greens, says color and trend specialist Doty Horn, founder of ColorVoyant, a color marketing firm based in the New York tristate area that tracks trends and forecasting in the color and design industry. Horn, the former director of color and design for Benjamin Moore, compares the brightness level to a volcanic eruption. "These colors are not for the backdrop, but instead used as accents on top of the backdrop, whether the accent is a pillow, a chair, a stripe on a wall," she says. "In a market that is trying to come back, color is the main story here. It is the easiest design medium to update a look, and primary colors do just that."
"Print is back in full force," Horn says. Patterns include geometrics, chevrons, diamonds, stripes, uneven stripes and multicolor stripes. Additional combinations include florals mixed with stripes, and paisley and dots, stripes, checks.
"Pattern is connected to color, and color is connected to pattern. Colors can create patterns through color blocking, multicolor stripes and florals," Horn says. "The color is the voice for the pattern, and the trend we are seeing is the newness of the mixture, pairing together prints and patterns that are very basic and recognizable and making a bold, multi-patterned statement."
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