Moquette was first applied to public transport seating in London in the 1920s. This sample shows the first moquette pattern - called Lozenge, this design was made in 1923 by Firth Furnishings Ltd and used on trains during the 1920s, and on bus, tram and trolleybus upholstery in the 1930s. It followed the fashions in home furnishings and art deco styles of the day.
After London Transport was created in the 1930s, Chief Executive, Frank Pick and his Publicity Officer, Christian Barman commissioned established artists and designers to create stylish, contemporary patterns for the Capital’s transport system. The patterns above were some of the designs created in this era, transforming the practical seating fabric to a design icon.
Moquette can be found in a variety of colours and patterns. When the surface stock cars on the District line were renewed, the mainly grey finishes of the old interiors were replaced by brighter designs. The new interiors were designed by Misha Black's Design Research Unit. The internal doors were painted orange and the moquette matched the colour scheme. This pattern was also used on the Metro and Titan buses, which were introduced about the same time as D78 stock.
During the 1990s, moquette was used to give each line its own identity. Can you recognise what lines or modes of transport you may have spotted some of the moquettes above?
How is moquette made? Camira Fabrics take us on a tour of how they make moquette.
More recently, moquette has been used for advertising. The two photos on the left show a Yellow Pages moquette, which was used on a C-stock train in 1998-1999. The final moquette shows a sample of the 'Back the Bid' moquette from around 2004, advertising London's candidacy to host the 2012 Olympic Games.
Moquette has also been used to help make the Underground more accessible. This blue moquette, called 'Barman' or 'Landmark' was introduced in 2010. It was modified to highlight priority seating with a graphic - as shown in the photo from 2017 - and in early 2019, Transport for London introduced more striking priority moquette on the Jubilee line as part of Priority Seating Week.
The bold patterns of London's seating has inspired many products - from trainers and socks to bags, scarves and even furniture!