London Design Week 2022 left me feeling dizzy with excitement this week with the prospect of a 1980s revival.
In conversation with three top British designers, Giles Kime, executive and interiors editor of Country Life, asked ‘What do we have to learn from the ’80s?’
My take on the 80s
To put this in context my memory of this era is one of swags and tails and sponged paint walls.
In the mid-eighties I actually acquired my then dream home – a four-bed detached with double garage and utility room. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
It wasn’t long before the patterned Mary Quant carpets were installed and the paint effects applied. Pink and blue walls in the master bedroom with a swag patterned Laura Ashley wallpaper frieze. The lead light window was dressed with a set of matching floral curtains, valance and tie-backs and finished with an plain white Austrian blind.
The lounge, dining room and kitchen all underwent similar transformations which included hand-stencilled details and yellow regency stripes. Honestly, what’s not to like!
Interiors have come a long way since those heady days partly due to the change in the economic climate and partly due to the growth in the interior design industry. An interesting fact that I learnt during LDW is that there were only four interiors magazines in the ’80s compared to a the twenty-five that are now published.
Television has also had a big impact on interiors. A day barely goes by without an Escape to The Country or a Love It Or List It being broadcast. As a nation we are constantly being exposed to the interiors of other people’s homes or their grand design journeys. No wonder we’re obsessed.
London Design Week Panel
The London Design Week panel of experts discussing the return of Eighties’ style was made up of Rupert Cunningham, director of Ben Pentreath, Minnie Kemp of Kit Kemp Design Studio and Isabella Worsley founder of Isabella Worsley Ltd.
Set against a backdrop of growth in the London financial sector in the 1980s interiors reflected this affluent mood. Highly patterned chintz fabrics, regency stripes, antiques, and empire curtains all contributed towards a feeling of opulence and comfortable nostalgia.The look was complex, layered and colourful.
Whilst the 21st century might not see a return to this magnificent country house feeling it might well take on the warmth and optimism of the ’80s.
The image below is a photograph of Julian Chichester’s showroom window at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. Entitled ‘Starry Eyed Surprise’ it was curated by interior designer, Minnie Kemp, and it certainly incorporates a host of joyful colours and accessories implying that it could be her interpretation of her childhood memories.
1980’s Revival was rife
1980’s revival was rife amidst the showrooms and pop-ups during London Design Week. Below are a selection of those that evoked memories of the creativity of that period.
Wallpaper & Fabrics
British wallpaper and fabric designer, Charlotte Gaisford, took up residence on the Design Avenue during London Design Week. Her collections all have a story to tell and can be combined to create a stunning décor. I could imagine decorating a bedroom with her rich patterns and installing this classic Water Monopoly bath in an adjoining en-suite.
One of my fond memories of the 1980s was my initiation to the gallery wall. It was the first time that I collated my family and friends mug shots and displayed them grid-fashion in my dining room. LondonArt’s Toiletpaper mural and Mind The Gap’s Woodstock collection are definitely a more irreverent development of this idea.
On a more genteel note William Morris & Co.’s showroom was a beautiful mix of classic patterns and homespun crafts. One tongue-and-grooved wall was completely covered in hand-tied bunches of dried flowers and block-print patterns whilst a bench hosted a range of cleverly collated mood boxes.
Villa Nova’s collaboration with potter Kyra Cane brings a new meaning to paint effects. These gorgeous landscape inspired wallpapers bring life and movement to a static space.
In times of trouble I think we need to find a reason to be optimistic and the trends that are coming through are definitely a rebellion against the grey pared-back interiors that have become joyless and staid. I’ve enjoyed stepping back in time and look forward to seeing the new interpretations of this era as the media adopts them. I feel a swag and tail coming on…
- Kit Kemp Design Studio
- Charlotte Gaisford
- The Water Monopoly
- London Art
- Mind The Gap
- Morris & Co
- Villa Nova
📸 Carolyn Hayter