London Underground fabric competition

Moquette colour wheel
(Image credit: press)

There are very few redeeming factors involved in commuting, regardless of what city you live in or mode of transport you happen to take. Frequenters of the London Underground would go as far as to say theirs might rival the very worst in terms of conditions and reliability. But the same can�t be said for design, as anyone with even the scantest knowledge of its history will testify to.

From the seminal sans serif font and roundel logos by Edward Johnston to Charles Holden�s station architecture, Harry Beck�s map and Paul Nash�s fabric, the tube is a wealth of historic, carefully considered design elements whose only sadness is the lack of appreciation they receive by the greater good who trudge past them twice a day.

The seminal fabric designs from the London Underground archive

(Image credit: press)

For inspiration see some of the seminal fabric designs from the London Underground archive

Showing their continued commitment to keeping the design up to scratch, if not always the service, the London Underground is holding a competition to design a new fabric for upholstering the seating, known as �moquette�. The brief is specific and much the same as it was back in 1930 when the first fabric was commissioned: the colours should respond well to natural and artificial light (there�s even a pantone reference wheel allocating percentage allowances), the pattern must wear and tear well and the fabric must be comfortable and durable. This might sound fairly restrictive but entrants are also encouraged to challenge convention where possible, being mindful not to create a repeat pattern that�s too small to �dazzle� the 3.5 million commuters who will see it each day.

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.