London is sure to wow the international world of interiors when our prestigious fabric houses launch new spring lines in Paris at Déco Off. The big event is run in the showrooms of more than 100 UK and continental brands until January 25 — and everyone is welcome, including the public.
Huge suspended linen lampshades mark two main routes on the left and right banks of the Seine. Extravagant window displays and design demos in a Perspex cube add to the fun, while a celebratory show of four centuries of wallcoverings — Faire le Mur — is at the recently renovated Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and runs until June.
In most cases the new British fabrics, wallpapers and trimmings will immediately go on sale in London at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, SW10, and in King's Road, SW3.
Colours are subtle — muted but not pastel, with lots of greys, pinks and mustard — in designs that are soft and tonal rather than big and bold. Blues are the exception, where indigo, ink and a luminous turquoise evoke the sea, the sky and even the tropics.
There are florals, of course — we are talking Britain here — but they are offset with upbeat, on-trend abstracts, from strokes and streaks to regimented geometrics.
Plain fabrics don't date, but here they have been brought to life with clever textures, such as tactile velvets, low-key damask, rough tweeds and radiant silks. Metallic wallpapers catch and reflect the light, with bronze and copper leading the way.
Europeans see Sanderson as the quintessentially British brand, and they won't be disappointed in a new collection fittingly called Woodland Walk. The British countryside in all its charm has been handpainted for wallpapers and fabrics, enhanced with embroideries. Find a green woodpecker, a wren, a robin, a thrush and a pair of blue tits in a beguiling pattern inspired by an 18th-century botanical print.
Perhaps the most endearing of all are pencil drawings of small wild animals that include rabbits, squirrels and hedgehogs.
Elsewhere, spot our native trees, butterflies and ladybirds, acorns, catkins and woodland berries. Sanderson design manager Rebecca Craig calls the colours "potting shed — those greens, greys and neutrals that say rural Britain". Wallpapers cost about £55 a roll, while fabrics are from £46 a metre.
Let prints blossom
London's Tricia Guild is an acknowledged queen of colour worldwide. Everyone looks to see what she is doing next. This spring, her new collection called Couture Rose is kicking off in the romantic city that inspired it.
"We're harking back to Fifties Paris fashion," says Guild, "when the city was shaking off that post-war austerity. We're doing silk, brocades and taffeta in glamorous floral and botanical prints."
Each flower has its own parade of petals — choose your favourite from hellebores, irises or more exotic lotus or orchids. There is a spread of ravishing full-blown roses, too. Fabrics cost from £85 a metre.
Osborne & Little is the original design pioneer that added wallpaper to that potent "swinging" Sixties mix of fashion and furnishing. Following the recent big London shows of early 20th-century art, new designs are suitably abstract, with slashes of pure colour. There's even a panther hiding Henri Rousseau-like amid some vivid foliage.
Putting fabric on walls is an upmarket decorating ploy that looks fantastic, but is tricky and expensive. British brand Zoffany, which is consistently innovative, is doing paper-backed Jacquard fabrics that solve the problem neatly. But that's not the whole story. The fabric is over-printed with patterns inspired by Japan. For example, you will find a serene sweep of a mountain landscape, a drift of falling leaves or a cascading waterfall. Fabrics cost about £64 a metre.
Plain and simply stunning
A soft brushed cotton/linen blend just begging to be stroked has been a perennial favourite since its launch in the Nineties by Romo. Despite the Italian sounding name, it is a fifth-generation family firm based in Nottingham. There are now more than 300 plain shades in its Linara range, costing from £35 a metre, and it is understandably a bestseller. The fabric has a lovely drape for curtains, yet is tough enough for upholstery.
Now come printed designs, with appealing low-key chevrons, Moroccan-style tiles, entwined branches and classic stripes. Colours, such as charcoal and mist mixed with rose and mimosa, are on-trend. Romo also offers velvets and embroideries in a big way. Prices are higher, from about £85 a metre, but these are usable fabrics well worth exploring.