Going underground with Kirkby Design

As the brand launch the second collection with Transport for London, we chat to creative director Jordan Mould

Underground Volume II LDF installation Kirkby Design
Styling Hannah Bort, Photography Luke Hayes

One of the highlights of this year’s London Design Festival was undoubtedly the tube carriage installation that was stationed outside 100% Design. Very much stationary, visitors could nevertheless climb aboard the 1967 vintage carriage to experience an interior styled entirely by Kirkby Design to showcase the brand’s Underground Vol II collection of upholstery velvets.

These contemporary patterned woollen textiles – seven designs in total – are inspired by moquettes from the seating fabric archives (dating back to the 1930s) of the TfL network but readapted in scale, texture and colour to render them more sophisticated and luxurious. We caught up with the creative director Jordan Mould to hear more about the collection

Underground Volume II LDF installation Kirkby Design
Kirkby Design
Styling Hannah Bort, Photography Luke Hayes

How did your first collaboration with Transport for London, ‘Underground’, come about? I was on the last tube home and the carriage was empty. It was the first time I'd really noticed how cool the fabric designs on the seats are. The next day, I showed the design team and we all agreed we should partner up with TfL. I reached out to them, and ‘Underground’ was created.

Underground Volume II LDF installation Kirkby Design
Styling Hanna Bort, Photography Luke Hayes

Did you stay true to the original designs? We played with scale, texture and colour, while always aiming to retain the essence of the original. Then we updated the colour combinations to present an entirely modern, trend-driven palette.

Underground Volume II LDF installation Kirkby Design
Styling Hannah Bort, Photography Luke Hayes

Do customers recognise the designs as being from theUnderground? Yes! Many say they bring back fond memories of their time travelling around London. We’ve also named each design after the line it featured on.

Are there many more of TfL’s patterns left for you to explore? Once we started digging around in the archive, we discovered a surprising wealth of material to work with, so who knows what the future may bring? Never say never.

Underground Volume II LDF installation Kirkby Design
Kirkby Design
Styling Hannah Bort, Photography Luke Hayes

What’s your standout print from this new collection? One of my favourites is ‘Northern’, originally designed in 1965 by leading textile designer Marianne Straub, in the‘Biscuit’ colourway. I love the graphic statement it can make.

‘Underground Vol II’ collection, from £89 per metre, Kirkby Design. kirkbydesign.com

This feature appeared in ELLE Decoration October issue.

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