Design news: flag up your style

The Union Flag can still steal the show – in sequins.
Of late, designers have gone doolally over the Union Flag. From cushions to prop up the male couch potatoes, trunks, chairs, rugs, fridges and even iPod covers, the flag is being flown all around the house.

The Union Flag is a strong image. It was boldly flaunted in the Sixties by pop art, and seen as a bit daring at the time. It was annexed by punk in the Seventies and Eighties, and then nothing seemed shocking any more.It was ripped, faded, re-coloured, used and abused on everything from record sleeves to knickers.

Westwood ho

Vivienne Westwood has long made the flag her own, taking it into furnishing with a rug and cushion for The Rug Company (124 Holland Park Avenue, W11; 020 7229 5148;, modelled on a faded banner from an old ship.

Hand-woven Jubilee wall-hanging
Hand-woven Jubilee wall-hanging by Lucinda Chambers for The Rug Company (£695)
Suzanne Sharp, The Rug Company’s creative director, says: “It’s a vintage type of glamour. Think rock groups such as the Sex Pistols and fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, Lulu Guinness and Vivienne, of course. Factor in nostalgia: the Queen, street parties, explorers, battles, sport and so on. It really is a great design.” Even in sequins, she adds. Witness the cushions designed by Lucinda Chambers, Vogue’s celebrated fashion director.

The Union Flag was boldly flaunted in the Sixties by pop art and seen as a bit daring

Vivienne Westwood’s flag is now a dramatic wall panel, as well as a rug. “This design is just walking out of Peter Jones,” says Jim Rutter of Coles, which makes it. You buy this digitally printed design as a roll for £118, and then cut it into six panels.

The Kruse Britannia chair
The Kruse Britannia chair (£1,750)

Ice-cool britannia

Smeg’s Union Flag fridge actually sells better in mainland Europe than in the UK, says Joan Fraser, the company’s product development manager. Strangely, the Germans and Italians are particularly keen. “People see it as an iconic symbol laden with cultural associations from fashion, music, and film.”

“The Union Jack was a natural for us — so bang on trend,” says Debbie McKeegan, launching (0161 873 8891), for quick furnishing fashion fixes. Jolly up a jaded room with a sophisticated flag mural or have a go at painting one yourself: Crown recommends Sticky Fingers red and Dramatic blue emulsion, with brilliant white, of course. Suggested Dulux shades are Fire Cracker 3 and Royal Regatta 1, from Tailor Made colours, mixed in store. Purists will find a guide to pukka proportions on You can always paint the whole thing out when the craze abates.

Distressed Union Flag trunk
Distressed trunk, John Lewis (£449)
Designers are having fun with Union Flag patchworks, just adding the design to other motifs — this gives it a lighter, prettier look (for example, Snowden Flood’s plate at Lifestyle bazaar in E2 (020 7739 9427;

John Lewis flies the flag with gusto, from cushions to rugs and a hand-painted chair — all things British are selling well, it says. Peter Bowles, founder director of Original BTC lighting (020 7351 2130;, which has a showroom at Chelsea Harbour, has modelled a hand-painted lamp on his grandfather’s Thirties linen flag. “We are committed to Made in Britain, and it goes down very well abroad,” he says.

Neon Union Flag
Neon Union Flag, Debenhams (£20)
There are cushions aplenty, of course. Look at with links to all suppliers. Tesco’s bargain is only £6 (0845 600 4411; It also does a double duvet set for £14. M&S has a more substantial offer, with good, strong colours, for £29.99, and as for more sequins, try John Lewis (£30), with flashes of shiny turquoise, purple and yellow. The fashion is to re-colour the flag — it’s in neon at Debenhams.

But for a double patrotic whammy it has to be Winston: this £29 cushion has a bulldog with a flag eyepatch sitting foursquare on the flag (020 7354 1881; Or simply settle for the flag itself: unionjack has a good selection from £2.99 complete with eyelets.

Just make sure you get it the right way up: the thick white diagonals should be uppermost on the left-hand side, next to the flagpole.

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