2011 sees the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. Alexandra Toso, features editor for Furnish.co.uk takes a look at its legacy and explains how its being translated into modern day interiors from designer furniture to textiles.
1951 was the year of the Festival of Britain. An initiative to cheer up the nation just six years after the end of WW2, the festival not only sought to find ways to regenerate much of Britain’s damaged architecture but also proved to be a hotbed of established and emerging design talent.
So, it’s hardly surprising that 60 years on, those who design interiors from designer furniture to textiles are being influenced by this momentous occasion.
Textile and wallpaper design has particularly been influenced from Mini Moderns’ Festival design which depicts flags and bunting to Little Greene’s 50s Line Papers, a collection of six wallpapers created using archive designs.
The high street has risen to the challenge too with Laura Ashley producing the most gorgeous of bookshelves and John Lewis getting on board too with its collection of rugs.
Designer furniture has of course always been influenced by this period. Robin Day’s Festival Hall chair has been interpreted many times over the last six decades, most notably by Dare Studio and its Kakakana chair.
Ercol is enjoying a resurgence and it’s no wonder as its Chiltern collection which is exclusive to John Lewis screams 1951 while the Originals range feels as it has been lifted straight from 1951. I adore the Love Seat and the nest of tables, both of which are perfect for adding some 50s chic to your home.
So, how can this translate into the home in 2011? This look works best in small doses, after all you probably don’t want to fully replicate a 50s living room.
Colour is an easy way to interpret this look and if you want get your colours right then Little Greene’s Heritage range is the perfect choice. They’ve worked with English Heritage to create colours from a range of eras and the 50s collection features shades such as Magnolia (which stuck around for at least a couple of decades) an bright orange to subtle pink, bold greens and elegant blues.
Textiles too are an easy way of adding some 50s style without going too over the top. A couple of pattered cushions, wall panels or window treatments in 50s-inpired fabrics is a subtle yet effective way to add pattern and colour to your scheme. The Herb Garden and Wild Mushroom fabrics from New House Textiles are perfect.
And of course furniture plays a major part in incorporating this look into your home. It’s here where I think it pays to go with the classics. So this means you need to get your second-hand shopping hat on and start trawling online sites that sell vintage furniture. The fact pieces have lasted this long are a testament to their quality and you’ll be buying a little bit of history too.
So, 60 years since we were all so miserable with the economy and general doom and gloom, seems we could do with another festival round about now.