Beautiful Homes Wallpaper, General, Wallpaper History

Vintage Wallpapers from Better Homes and Gardens

Eye candy from my favorite design source, the Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Books from 1961 and 1975.  There’s something about these images that really grabs me.  Whether the room is spot on perfect, hilariously dated or even flat-out hideous, I can’t help but enjoy their unique visual attitude and charming vintage quality.  For better or worse, they always make me think, “I can’t believe people actually lived like this.”  Enjoy!

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General, Wallpaper History

Damien Hirst Wallpaper

Last month I posted about Damien Hirst’s work, and I just realized (via one of my favorite blogs, The Year in Pictures) that he has done wallpaper!  I don’t know how I missed it when I was at the Gagosian gallery shop; maybe it’s relatively recent.  In any case, talk about graphic wallpaper- wowzer.  The pattern seems perfect for a retail or public space; I can’t really imagine it in most home environments.  But it’s nice to see digitally printed wallpaper in a high-end context.  Well done Mr. Hirst!  (And thanks for taking the on-the-sly pictures, James!)

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Wallpaper History

Wallpaper Heroes: William Morris

William Morris is perhaps the single most important figure in the history of wallpaper.  A writer, artist, and political activist, Morris was truly a renaissance man, but his achievements in fabric and wallpaper design stand above the rest.  Championing the British arts and crafts movement, Morris merged his interest in patterning with his lifelong fascination with nature.  The results are timeless patterns, rich in color, elegant in design.


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It’s striking to me how relevant Morris’ work and philosophies are to wallpaper today.  His fundamental belief that surface design depends upon intentional lines and silhouettes is undeniably true; Cavern’s “Blackbird” pattern is a great example.  And his interest in hand-made art and abstracting the natural world all seem very modern, very “now.”  I’ll post more eye-candy from Morris in the upcoming weeks – his patterns are truly exquisite.

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General, Wallpaper History

New Year, Old Wallpapers

Happy new year! To kick off 2010, here are some photos taken by the always fabulous Karli Hendrickson, Cavern intern at large, on her latest trip to the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic Connecticut.  These are from the Buckingham-Hall House, recreated to look like it might have in the 19th Century.

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Karli points out (and I very much agree) that what makes the rooms so visually appealing is the combination of patterns: the delicate, even ornate wallpaper patterns mixed with the bold stripes in the rug or couch.

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The patterns create a vibrant energy, a visual business for the eye to explore.  But through conservative color choice, framed pictures, and simple wood furniture, the rooms maintain a cohesive, balanced serenity.  All the elements fit together.

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I can’t imagine designing my own apartment to look like a 19th Century coastal town house, but I find the mixing and matching very inspiring. Thanks Karli!

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General, Wallpaper History

Patterns & Damien Hirst

I just dropped by Gagosian Gallery NYC and became aware of some Damien Hirst paintings that show a beautiful interest in patterns and mirroring.  Inspired by butterflies and stained glass windows, his 2007 show “Superstition” exemplifies the vibrancy that can come when complex patterning combines with vivid color.  I wish I had seen it the show in person!

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General, Wallpaper History

Richard Wright

Richard Wright just won this year’s Turner Prize, awarded by the Tate to a contemporary artist under fifty who has shown outstanding work in the last year.  Wright’s work exists somewhere on the border between installation art, painting, and wallpaper.  His style is sometimes bold, sometimes subtle- always intriguing.   Check out more of his work here.  Very cool.

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Beautiful Homes Wallpaper, General, Wallpaper History

MASS MoCA

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MASS MoCA is showing an incredible, highly praised Sol LeWitt wall drawing retrospective.  Intern at large Karli Hendrickson snapped these photos a few summers ago when she worked on the projects: she and a a team of artists installed the drawings.
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Dramatic walls such as these make me wonder: how can you incorporate such crazy, OFF the wall patterns in your living space?  Wall art can look so incredibly cool in the museum, but can it translate to the home?  Would anyone be so bold — or so foolish?  It seems like you’d be setting yourself up for amazing success or total failure.

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Wallpaper History

Antique Wallpaper at Second Hand Rose

If you’re in the market for vintage wallpaper, check out Second Hand Rose.  Based in New York, the shop carries the world’s largest collection of antique papers in original rolls.  The styles range from Victorian to 1970′s modern and everything in between.  Below are some of my favorite patterns from mid-century through the 70′s.  So graphic and fun.

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