Wallace Sewell The design team behind some of your favourite moquette patterns
UK-based British design studio, Wallace Sewell, was established by Harriet Wallace-Jones and Emma Sewell after graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1990.
Wallace Sewell’s Designs for Transport for London
The studio is celebrated for designing many of the moquette patterns which we see on the buses, trains, trams and Underground today.
Their body of work for Transport for London includes:
Elizabeth Line Priority
History of the Brand
Though the pair both had individual projects of their own after graduating with their MA’s in 1990, both were open to the prospect of following their art where it would take them. Wallace Sewell was officially founded in 1992 in Holloway in a 10ft x 10ft studio which the pair initially rented. At this time Wallace Sewell applied for the Chelsea Craft Fair where their designs were spotted by buyers from Barneys and the Guggenheim in New York, both placing orders the same year. It was the reputation which Wallace Sewell began to develop which lead Transport for London to them, when they were invited to submit designs for the Overground Moquette Project.
Wallace Sewell have been designing and producing in the United Kingdom since their founding in 1992. They decided to produce in the United Kingdom to have direct access to the weaving process. Initially the women were involved in every part of the weaving process, from threading the looms to cutting the cards (in the days before computerised card cutting). The duo has continued to produce in the United Kingdom because of the importance they place on feeling connected to their work physically and being supported by the manufacturer of their designs as they proceed. This commitment means that materials used for Wallace Sewell products have a small carbon footprint, travelling only within England and occasionally to Scotland during their production cycle.
Designing for Transport 2007-2018
When invited to submit a design for the Overground Moquette Project, Wallace Sewell drew from their own woven designs to create a suitable pattern to reflect the Overground line and its core colour of orange.
Once again, Wallace Sewell were invited to submit a moquette design for a new line with the Tramlink to Croydon. Here the designers chose colours green for country and grey for city as the lines moves between the two, playing on changes to the colour red as it travels across the two base colours. This pattern follows on from Overground and Overground Priority designs with a similar repeating pattern, although the pattern appears camouflaged because of the colour choice.
TfL Rail moquette was challenging as the design brief had few rules and restrictions, giving the designers more freedom during the design process. This pattern is inspired by a building which was seen while travelling the route of the line. This design focuses on 2 colours in any line and was created using a collage approach.
Barman moquette was inspired by Russian Constructivist Textiles, where elements of the design serve more than one purpose. This is a more whimsical design, featuring 4 London Icons: St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, the London Eye and Tower Bridge.
For the creation of Bakerloo moquette design, more than 30 colour variations were trialled before choosing the browns and greys seen on the line today. The brown chosen for the roundel in this design is not the same shade of brown as the Bakerloo line, the brown was brightened to appear the correct colour when placed on the grey background.
The Elizabeth Line moquette is an evolution of TfL Rail design, where the base elements are taken from TfL Rail moquette. In this design the colour choices were particularly important as Transport for London set new guidelines which considers variations in colours which allow persons with visual impairments to be able to see the colours clearly.
Understanding the Limitations of Moquette
Moquette is produced using a complex weaving process, with limitations on the design and colours. The pile can remain uncut which is called loop type or be made up on tufts which is called cut type. TfL moquette often uses a combination of both to make it extra hard wearing.
With experience setting colours in yarn for the loom and having worked directly with Camira, the current fabric supplier to Transport for London, Wallace Sewell understand the limitations of what can be physically produced in a moquette fabric.
The creation of the Barman and subsequently Bakerloo moquette designs presented their own issues. This is the only pattern which Wallace Sewell have designed for Transport for London which is not rectangular, therefore this pattern required extra time to scale for the requirements set.
Designing for Transport for London
Working for Transport for London means a varying set of guidelines which need to be considered when designing. The rules for producing a pattern for Transport for London are always updating and designs typically require a quick turnaround time for production. Most recently, while working on the design for the Elizabeth Line designers were required to consider the light reflective value of colours used. This update to the design requirements means that the pattern is now accessible for persons with varying degrees of sight. Working with purple was another challenge which Wallace Sewell were happy to meet as this is a colour which does not often feature in their designs!
A fascination with colour theory and the use of colour in design has allowed Wallace Sewell to continuously translate their own brand aesthetic in everything which they design for Transport for London and London Transport Museum.
Designing for London Transport Museum
Wallace Sewell has worked with London Transport Museum in producing ranges of high-end scarves, cushions and throws which were produced exclusively to celebrate 150 years of the London Underground. The material produced incorporated all 12 Underground livery colours running parallel with one another, interwoven with the orange Overground livery.
London Transport Museum continues to work with Walla Sewell’s designs to create new and exciting products for purchase through the online shop and our shop in Covent Garden.
Seats of London book
Moquette by the metre
Made to order furniture
Wallace Sewell Today
Today Wallace Sewell collaborates with artists and companies across the globe to create instantly recognisable works of textile art. In London, Wallace Sewell designs for Transport for London, the Tate bi-annually, Royal Opera House and the Standard Hotel at Kings Cross to name a few. Internationally Wallace Sewell has worked on the re-edition of a blanket designed by Gunta Stolzl for the Bauhaus student rooms, Designtex in the USA and Fabriano Papers.
Wallace Sewell remain excited about the prospect of future projects with Transport for London and are continually excited to see their designs whilst travelling on the Underground and rail network today.