Best of British

This year’s 100% Design show highlighted the sheer wealth of creativity and innovation, which underscores furniture, lighting and product design in Britain. Impossible to categorise, British style embraces diversity, individuality and an eclectic mix of old and new, classic and contemporary. Unlike the rest of Europe, where countries are often associated with a certain style or aesthetic, in Britain, originality is key.

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By  Monika Grzesik Published  November 20, 2006

|~|UK-1new.gif|~||~|This year’s 100% Design show highlighted the sheer wealth of creativity and innovation, which underscores furniture, lighting and product design in Britain. Impossible to categorise, British style embraces diversity, individuality and an eclectic mix of old and new, classic and contemporary. Unlike the rest of Europe, where countries are often associated with a certain style or aesthetic, in Britain, originality is key.

Christine Losecaat, creative industries adviser, UK Trade and Investment describes the UK design scene: “In Britain, design closely allied to innovation, is the key to standing out. The diversity of talent and expertise of the UK design scene coupled with its willingness to adopt new ideas, ensures that it will always have a leading role to play in guiding consumer tastes, as well as predicting and reflecting consumer trends. UK design has three main influences: A strong tradition of craftsmanship; popular culture heralding back to the 60s which challenged the establishment; and multi-culturalism and diversity, creating a melting pot of international creative influences.”

||**|||~|UK-2new.gif|~||~|Karin Beate-Phillips, founder of the British European Design Group agrees: “If you want to pigeonhole design from Great Britain you can say that it is the incredible variety of individual design perceptions and approaches resulting from the multinational creative talent. It is this diversity of personal originality coupled with different cultural heritages that makes design from Great Britain so exciting and different and impossible to pin down to one trend or interpretation.”

An increasing number of UK design brands are becoming available in the Middle East as the region embraces British creativity. This month Maison D’Art in Dubai is expanding to incorporate a showroom specifically for Designers Guild. Founded in London in 1970, Designers Guild has become one of the UK’s most influential and creative forces in interior design achieving international recognition for its wall coverings and fabrics.

“British designed fabrics are exceptionally popular here as people demand originality and quality. UK designers are constantly developing new ideas to keep their fabrics up to date, using fresh colours and original designs to keep their products unique, they also have a reputation of being of the highest quality,” says Stuart Wilson, sales representative, Maison D’Art.

||**|||~|UK-3.gif|~||~|Other prominent UK brands have become available in the region with the recent opening of Harvey Nichols in Dubai and Aati now retails leading British fabric and wallpaper producers Osborne and Little as well as Kelly Hoppen. Another prolific UK designer to recently become established in the region (through Deka Interiors) is Tom Dixon. The designer was recently shortlisted for the 2006 Designer of the Year Award and is now head of design at British furnishing house ‘Habitat’. “One of the main reasons for Tom Dixon’s popularity is his remodelling of the designs of the 60s and 70s to today’s environment,” says Tolga Vurgun, managing director, Deka Interiors. “Tom Dixon designs are innovative and functional which is appealing to the modern GCC inhabitant.”

Other companies look set to follow. UK bathroom design company Tretzo plans to introduce the Ebb bathroom concept into the region later this year. Geoffrey Clarke from Tretzo explains the attraction of the Middle East: “The interiors scene is famous for opulence, shiny floors, marble stairways, extravagance and unimaginable creativity. It is basically a huge blank canvas which most designers dream about. In the UK, the space is limited and everything must be done with a tight control on cost. Designing interiors in the Middle East opens up new doors with regards to creativity and innovation. UK designers bring a fresh look and enthusiasm to the scene and a vast range of design influences to a project. We have a mindset, which is highly creative as a result of the broad base of influences from which we work.”||**||

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