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Trendspotting: Vintage subway signs take a seat

July 20, 2010 |  6:48 am

1 bus route wing chair
Framed vintage subway and bus route signs have been so hip for so long that they've become a default design decision for city loft dwellers or anyone who needs to fill a tall, skinny space on their suburban walls. Set designers have used them for years in such movies as "Monster-In-Law" and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry." (Yes, that's how mainstream they've become.) 

 Los Angele Trolley signs After being played out a couple of years ago in Pottery Barn, fad-resistant Restoration Hardware, is now selling framed reproductions printed on card stock for $495 and up.

For purists, Subway Signs is a website that sells original pieces and printed reproductions of various city routes (including Los Angeles, right, from $255) as well as the same ones you've seen in the movies. 

So, I suppose, it was only a matter of time before the vintage route signs, which were printed on hard-wearing textiles, found their way off the wall and onto upholstered furniture. 

And what could be a more fitting place than on the beloved wing chair? In the last couple of years, the once-stuffy gentleman's seat has become another fashion victim -- draped in men's suiting fabric, Union Jacks, burlap and European feed sacks? 

So think of the wing chair, above, as two decorating trends rolled into one. (Or, perhaps, one piece you'll think is just too trendy?) It comes from Home Economics, a dealer in vintage British route sign textiles. Normally priced at $2,400, the chair will be offered for $1,950 at the Redondo Beach Antique Show this weekend. The company will also offer bus route fabric by the yard, ready-to-hang wall panels and decorative pillows. 

The 12th annual Redondo Beach Antique Show runs from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, July 23 and 24, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 25, at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach. Admission is $10.

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits, from top: Joel Eckman Maus for Home Economics, Subway Signs

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