1. Keep Calm and...
The original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was designed by the UK’s Ministry of Information in 1939. It was intended to boost morale during the darkest days of the Second World War. The five words and simple design captured the essence of British stiff-upper lipped resilience. Horrible things were happening, like the Blitz and millions of people losing their lives. That’s what makes twee “Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake” coasters and scatter cushions annoying, if not downright offensive.
2. Birds on things
Before you buy a bird covered shower curtain, pause and ask yourself : "do I actually like birds?". If the answer is "no" or "I have no real opinion", don't buy it. It is the same as wearing a Motörhead t-shirt and being unable to name a single Motörhead hit. This video from IFC’s Portlandia sums up everything that is wrong with the proliferation of pointless stuff with birds on:
Just because cupcakes taste good doesn’t mean that they make a good design motif. It is plain lazy; a thought process that goes roughly as follows:
Women like cupcakes, let’s stick pictures of cupcakes on cheap tat to make women buy it!
Also, the cupcakes used to decorate oven mitts and tea cosies reinforce unrealistic expectations about what a cupcake should look like. The frosting swirls are always perfect and no batter ever drips down the side of the cheery pink and blue papercases.
4. Designer Tea Towels
Paying £9.95 for a tea towel is madness, even if it features a limited edition Rob Ryan picture. Tea towels are a solely functional item, they are not aspirational lifestyle statements. All tea towels will one day end up being used to clean the bathroom mirror or mop up dog/cat/baby puke.
5. Union Flags
Here’s one that will hopefully die out soon. Once the UK climbs down from the dizzying heights of Mount Jubilympia, charity shops will receive influxes of impulse-purchased flag mugs and placemats. It all began in March 2012, when people’s sofas started to get patriotic. First it was scatter cushions, then came the throws and rugs. The most irritating kind of Union Flag cushion is the crafty patchwork variant. This is the wimpy and pseudo-PC cushion of choice for those who find red, white and blue embarrassing and vulgar.