January 13, 2015

Design inspired by the Brit Pop era

The Brit Pop artists of the 1990s produced music that was inspired by their illustrious precursors of the 60s, 70s and 80s. It was ‘Brit’ and it made a statement, not least of which was that it rejected the Grunge music that had originated in Seattle in the US in favour of homegrown music. It was inspired by the guitar pop music of the 1960s – bands such as The Beatles – the glam rock of the 1970s – for example David Bowie, Iggy Pop – punk rock – such as the Sex Pistols – and Indie Rock of the 1980s – which included bands such as The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets. Mix these genres together, add tons of working class attitude, and an even larger amount of British culture, and you have a flavour of what Brit Pop is all about. Brit Pop influenced a generation and it continues to inspire design today and influence our everyday lives, both back then and now.  

The greatest of the Brit Pop bands included Suede and Blur from London, and Oasis from Manchester. In the case of Oasis and the infamous Gallagher brothers, not only was the Mancunian dialect mimicked, but their style was also copied, and their attitude was affected. Think about press images and album covers of the 90s – long greasy fringes and scruffy hair; still, bored facial expressions staring into the camera and sometimes leaning towards it; arms folded, often looking apathetic-bordering-on-aggressive. Song lyrics were about all things British, with an emphasis on that cigarettes and alcohol, working-class culture; the music was a social commentary but it had a great, catchy, good-fun tune. Although the lyrics often made serious points, it was music you could dance to, sing along with and party to.

Interior design and pop culture

Music that makes you feel like cutting loose and partying has always shaped our lives. Take pop music of the 60s and 70s, for example. Home d├ęcor of this era featured bold, bright stripes, zigzags and swirls in yellow, orange and brown, as well as disco balls and geometric shapes to mimic the disco vibe that had taken the world by storm.

Brit Pop was first and foremost British, and its style was embodied by the Union Jack: a symbol of pride and nationalism. The British flag influenced design and continues to do so by appearing in different formats on walls, murals, and picture frames. Typography art, word-clouds or wordles (a collection of words associated with a certain subject made into a piece of art) from Brit Pop lyrics, scatter cushions, as well as phone cases and T-shirts can all be found with Brit Pop themes. The artist of the time was British modern artist Damien Hirst, whose work included preserved dead animals including a sheep, a cow and a tiger shark.

Brit Pop has inspired not just artists and designers, but also fashion: fashion of the Brit Pop era was influenced by the collared shirts and leather jackets worn by the likes of alternative rock band The Smiths and The Jam in the 1980s. Followers of Brit Pop in the 90s wore a mixture of student and sporty casual, such as Fred Perry polo shirts, zip-up tracksuit tops, and Adidas sports shoes, and baggy, scruffy parkas, teamed with sunglasses, messy hair and a sultry look. And happily for the generation of the 90s, the Brit Pop era continues to influence much of our culture even now.


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