As Prince Harry can surely tell you, England is pretty attached to its traditions. For centuries, the country’s playbook for posh interiors involved the same trad manor style reflected on Downton Abbey: opulent rugs paired with patterned wallpaper and pleated lampshades.
But while modern design used to represent a clear break from these types of regal elements, lately the two styles have started to converge. Hip new restaurants and hotels like London’s L’oscar are now embracing richly layered interiors defined by textural fabrics and ornate patterns. One key distinction: these environments are not so much tastefully decorated as they are boldly maximalist — with a more-is-more approach that somehow makes the whole thing feel unabashedly contemporary. Think the Agatha-Christie-gone-camp style of Knives Out. So while England might be concerned with preserving its storied identity, cheeky designers like Paul Smith seem to be having a blast defining a more modern direction for the country’s traditional style. Here are their fresh takes on beloved British maximalism.
ARTEMIS BLACK WALLPAPER
House of Hackney joined forces with William Morris to illustrate florals in a sinewy style that evokes the illustrations in old anatomy textbooks. Definitely not your grandmother’s wallpaper.
IL VIAGGIO DI NETTUNO PLATE
FT design columnist Luke Edward Hall collaborated with porcelain-maker Richard Ginori to reimagine retro statues in a doodled, cartoonish style.
BEDWYN EMPIRE LAMPSHADE
From the team behind luxury paint company Farrow & Ball comes Fermoie, a lampshade-maker specializing in prints that are more Jackson Pollock canvas than dusty antique.
TREE OF LIFE CUSHION
Like all the best offerings from Liberty, the Tudor Revival department store in London’s Soho, this fringe-trimmed, duck-feather-stuffed velvet cushion is stately without being stiff.
PAISLEY AUBERGINE RUG
Paul Smith, one of the pioneers of dandy British design, reconsiders an ornamental pattern with psychedelic flair for this hand-knotted wool floor covering by The Rug Company.