Changing your perspective by changing the walls that surround you.
Article by Vivion O’Kelly, Images courtesy of UDesign, Creativespace & FEATHR
Wallpaper is back. Not the murky tones of those awkward rolls made for the mass market that our grandparents used, but a new concept in wallpaper and wall murals that are now available as a result of improved printing technologies. Now we can change the entire perspective of a room, altering its mood to suit ours and bringing a new, almost magic, dimension into our lives in a way that was not possible in the past without spending vast amounts of money.
For a period, back in the latter half of the 20th century, the use of wallpaper among ordinary folk diminished, probably as a reaction to the dull colours and patterns of Victorian times. But decorating walls is an ancient art. Whether applying pigment on the walls of a room in Pompei or hanging tapestries on a castle in Medieval Europe, we have all decorated our walls in different ways, for different reasons, since mankind started living in closed spaces. The history of wallpaper goes back to Renaissance times, and it’s not about to go out of fashion.
It’s all about imagination. It’s about looking at a room with an open mind and thinking: how can I change this? What can I do that will instantly alter the otherwise limited view of the inside walls of this room? Where can my imagination lead me?
Clearly, not all walls need to be decorated. A room may have large windows that provide the visual stimulation we need, or we may hang paintings or other decorative elements that do more or less the same thing, but too many of us tend to forget the third option, which may well be the best of all as circumstances dictate. This is to use wallpaper. Look at the room below:
A bathroom, as pure and simple as it comes. No decoration, excess or otherwise, no trinkets around the washbasin, no paintings, no colour on the walls, no bright rug on the floor to break the monotony, no nothing, if the grammar be excused. But what a room! It has been changed utterly by covering the end wall with wallpaper as a mural. This is a room that not only has immediate visual impact, but a room once seen, never forgotten. And all it took to make this possible was a lot of imagination and a little bit of wallpaper.
This is not the fragile-thin wallpaper as our forefathers knew it, but a washable wall covering made of durable materials that is the modern equivalent of a trompe l’oeil fresco, and much less expensive. It is made by the Italian company Creativespace, who not only offer a wide range of images to choose from, but will reproduce any image you may already have (even in your mind), from a sketch on a paper napkin or snapshot of your cat to a photograph of a beautiful building you might have taken anywhere in the world. Their only limitation is in the use of images that are under copyright. Below are some more examples of their work.
Bedrooms transformed. The photograph on the left shows an intimate image of red flowers on a muted handwritten background, perhaps a bitter-sweet letter to a loved one, or a promise that will sometime be kept – it all depends on the imagination of the viewer, and that could be you. Such a simple image with such a wealth of meaning…
The photograph on the right places the bed in the middle of a green forest, distance created by the fade-to-grey in the misty landscape. Once again, an ordinary bedroom has been changed magically by nothing more than the use of carefully chosen wallpaper.
And although the bedroom in the image below is far from ordinary, the space has certainly been changed with the use of this brightly coloured floral wallpaper.
And what about this for mind-bending imagery in a sitting room? This mural is named Castles, and it extends both the room itself and the spatial perception of the person in it. Its trompe-l’oeil quality invites one to step behind the sofa and take a stroll through the winding corridors. Nothing detracts from the subtly of tones in the background, because no other design elements are needed.
You may, on the other hand, opt for something more artistic, less photographic, and if this is the case, you need to look at the work of the Finnish company FEATHR. There are a young married couple and a friend who had worked in advertising, but decided they needed a change of direction. One day, shopping for wallpaper, they discovered that nothing they wanted was available, so they set up their own wallpaper company. They wanted more art, less decoration, more maximalism than minimalism. They decided the road ahead lay in persuading artists to work with them in producing designs that moved away from traditional wallpaper design to genuine works of reproduction art that ordinary people could afford. Throwing caution to the wind, they asked for the best works of art their artist colleagues could come up with, rather than the best wallpaper designs they might otherwise have made. See some of the results below.
Mixed media of spray paint, coloured markers and acrylics, resulting in a stunning floral/graffiti mural that become a centrepiece rather than a background design element. Such a piece gives a new meaning to art reproduction: instead of a small painting of the same subject matter on a blank wall, this is the same painting covering the entire wall. It is also a strong statement about life in general on the part of the home owner.
Who would have thought it? This shabby distressed chic wallpaper won Surface of the Year in 2017 and was runner-up in Wallpaper of the Year in Homes & Gardens Magazine in 2016. It just goes to show how a blank surface can be transformed by creativity.
The extraordinary wallpaper in this room, the collaborative work of artist Lee Herring and FEATHR, plays with the mind without using trompe-l’oeil. Are we inside or out? The rather formal high door now looks slightly out of place in the scheme of things, making us look again and again. A lot of spray paint has been used to achieve the effect of hanging bunting at a summer party, with the neon graffiti bunting jumping out against the pastel background.
These wallpapers and wall murals differ from the traditional in many obvious ways, and one of these differences is that you will probably need professional help in making your choice. These are not just rolls of paper that can be put up easily and cheaply, where bad results can be fixed by another visit to your local wallpaper supplier. They do not form part of the background to a room, but rather become an essential design element of that room. Remember that a good design consultant will not impose ideas on you, but will take your ideas and help you make them work.
Find the latest collections of contemporary wallcoverings at the UDesign Showroom: Polígono Industrial San Pedro, C/Países Bajos 6, San Pedro de Alcántara (Marbella) Spain – Tel: (+34) 952 794 117