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By Nina J P Evans

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Statement wallpapers

Wallpaper seems to be fashionable again in the world of interior decoration with boldness, simplicity and contrasting designs on statement walls. It’s time to consider the most popular designs of 2016, as many other design’s could be inspired by these current trends. Using Google images as a reference I’ve been able to make a better judgment call. Some of the designs feel slightly alien to me as wallpapers, whilst others look rather nice only as swatch designs. In the end only two out of the ten made the cut, two others inspired potential DIY projects, below is a little reasoning sometimes very limited to explain my decision process.
Jungle lé2, €75 (£60) a roll, petitefriture.com

Well this is something … and it’s not at all apparent what exactly until seen on a feature wall (url above), the eyes feel completely lost in that swatch, but there’s no doubt that this is a beautifully illustrated design and a lovely way of bringing the exotic outdoors into a modern city living space. The design online is featured in a Parisian furniture boutique. I wonder if the repeat would be too contrived for this subject matter used in a large area? I rather like the inky blue colour choice it’s a good contrast from its inspired natural origins, the outline graphic style creates a sense of freshness and sophistication.
wood plank stripe, £12 a roll, diy.com 

Can you believe this design is the Editors pick … It is awful! So much better to re-claim old wood from a skip and apply fresh paint colour, probably as cheap to install without the cost of it looking so.
One Day, £55 a roll, minimoderns.com

The title of the design is difficult to disassociate from the film: One Day, set in 1988. It was lost on Google images, although a worthy Editors pick. I like the colours of this design and the appealing motifs, but as for being inspired by kitchen sink dramas of the 1950s and 1960s well … (url above) There’s no impression of bleakness or emotional struggle, with motifs of steaming kettles or a chair askew. Everything is precision perfect. Perhaps a new title is needed, a street name? The piece does contain many visual references to the 1950s and 1960s. The window frame design is a nice concept and I do like the way that the motor bike, pram and rounded window have added a lovely sense of interest to the negative positive space.
Lempicka, £64 a roll, osborneandlittle.com

There’s a name association with the artist Tamara de Lempicka. The rich red and gold design, perhaps does give off an air of modernity. I would have preferred something a little more sensual and dynamically composed as the repetition of these cylindrical motifs is a little hard to take.
Marvel Superheroes, £8 a roll, wilko.com

Here vintage comic book covers attempt to come to life, an offset design with images from Thor, Spiderman and the X-men with dynamic action styling and mainly bold primary colours. I noted that this is a popular choice online with other comic formats. I’d prefer a more cut and paste DIY approach, but I like the idea of a story being unfolded large scale! The comic book covers in this design, however, are less impact because they don’t reveal the stories.
Entering The Hammam, £50 a roll, firedearth.com

I thought it was interesting that the repeat design was formatted in offset squares as the swatch looked randomly composed. The design is a little overpowering as a wallpaper, though I like that that deign has some geometric shaping to its layout, the cast iron blackness of the keys feel a little cold as an interior design choice.
Flamingo, £12 a roll, diy.com

How can flamingos and palm trees be pasted onto a battleship grey background? It feels very alienating. Undoubtedly the subject matter does seem to be a popular interior choice for 2016, but where's the magic the whimsy the love in this design? … a missed opportunity for sure.
Hydrangea, £20 a roll, cathkidston.comcathkidston.com

Not as popular on Google as I thought it would be, behind bookcases yes on walls it doesn’t compare to the original 1980s Laura Ashley designs. That’s if you like floral.
April Showers, £28 a roll, scion.uk.comscion.uk.com

I think it looks sad, perhaps I am slightly influenced by having recently read the biography of Judy Garland and I love Judy, but this no.
Bumblebee, £86 a roll, farrow-ball.com

My goodness I didn’t see that coming at £86 a roll, and the most popular of the ten designs on Google images! It does come in an array of colours and often the bumblebee motifs are gold foiled quite rightly at that price! I have to say I love the design! It is simply elegant and there’s a perfectly balanced contrast between the motif and the background.

To conclude even though there are only ten designs it feels like a hard choice to make, if the price was no object as I am judging these only from a design perspective, I would have either the Jungle or Bumblebee as my Editors pick. Both these designs exceeded my expectations and surprised me — after all the home is where the heart is.
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Further Reading

Monday, May 30, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Inspired by a trip to a pet shop titled Bird Paradise in the States, billed as the largest exotic bird superstore probably in the world, artist Claire Rosen armed herself with 200 sheets of wallpaper, a bird handler and a makeshift studio set up at the superstore. Her idea was to produce a whimsical series of photographic portraits featuring exotic birds with designed wallpaper as backgrounds. 

Wallpapers have often been inspired by either geometric shapes or nature. William Morris’s most popular repeating design for textiles was titled Strawberry Thief, 1883 an exquisite repeat design of flora, fruit and thrushes produced in an array of colour combinations used for fabrics and wall hangings. In the 18th century exotic birds were quite popular as pets. You can imagine rich stately homes featuring bold silk wall hangings and woodblock printed wallpaper designs, Gainsborough paintings and French bird stands with beautifully coloured exotic birds bringing the property to life. Nowadays French 18th century romanticism is still a most popular style, as featured in plays, films, books and the fashion industry.

Claire Rosen’s photographic portraits achieve the same aim, only she’s treated the subject matter rather like a Vogue photoshoot the compositions and colours are very keenly selected and the bird’s characterful expressions are priceless! They are very beautiful, and so are the wallpapers selected. I also like the contrast created between the illustrative designs of the wallpapers and the photographic medium of the bird portraiture, this creates visual contrast between the mediums, at the same time every detail of the colours is coordinated between subject and background, I think to perfection. 


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Further Reading

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Falling Garden

Falling Garden … there’s a wonderful romantic ring to it, it was created for the 5oth Venice Biennial, 2003. To celebrate National Poetry Day, a while ago I was looking for something tweetable, this piece had that willing suspension of disbelief for a moment … I was breathless. The staging of it is very theatrical the plants and flowers suspended in mid air, within the timeless of the 17th century Baroque style interior of San Staë church on the Canale Grande ... evokes feelings of passion and emotion. As seen from the photographs the whiteness, yet richly ornate space is the perfect backdrop as it enables the colours, shapes and textures of the flowers and seeds to interact. I wonder about the scale of the installation, it does seem pretty big from the areal view although this kind of perspective we could only of gained by being there.

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Further Reading

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Seed Packets

I rather like these vintage French seed packets, and it seems I’m not the only one, as they are now selling as framed prints and as patchwork wallpaper for the kitchen … check Google images.
I love the colour vibrancy and visual style although the compositions are not very beautifully balanced, considering the subject matter they are cropped a little awkwardly.

As a set displayed on shop racks and such the designs have some continuity between the tonality of the greens and yellows, all the other multitude of colours gives the feeling of variety and the subject context. Another added benefit with these French designs is that the typography is very uniform, simple and understated. There’s no advertising of the company’s name and address, no price tag and most importantly; not mentioning the obvious ... for example, a floral image and then the type saying: garden and flower seeds. The name of the flower is all that is needed and for further clarification the Latin botanical translation developed by Carl Linnaeus.
“The binomial (two name) system of nomenclature was developed by Swedish naturalist, Carl Linnaeus in the mid 1700s. Grouping plants according to similarities such as leaves, flowers and fruit, he founded a natural order and named them accordingly.”

Compared to other seed packaging from past to present. Where designs fail for too many reasons to justify,  I think these stand out and deserve a worthy mention, but perhaps the wallpaper is a no.

date of packaging 1920’s/30’s size 2.25"x4.00"





Plant drawings by Henri Matisse

He drew every day of his life, even on his deathbed he drew. Once to create a single piece of work he made more than a thousand drawings. Every day he drew from life and what he drew from his art was life itself.
 text from: Matisse: Drawing Life, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art