General, Wallpaper History

Vintage Vehicular Wallpapers

The amazing Karli Hendrickson sent us these vintage wallpaper samples from the book “Off the Wall” from the section titled “On the Go: By Land, Sea, Air and… Into the Wild Blue Yonder”. These papers from the 40′s-60′s, depict the many achievements in modern transportation of that time. These vehicular motifs were commonly used in men’s studies and young boys’ bedrooms.

General, Wallpaper History

Off the Wall: Geometric

Intern at Large Karli Hendrickson just wrote me about a fantastic book she’s reading: “Off the Wall, Wonderful Wall Coverings of the Twentieth Century”  by Lena Lencek and Gideon Bosker. In the second section of this book “Circles and Squares- Geometrics, Abstracts, Op Art, Minimalist Art” the book explains that geometric motifs were typical of the 1950′s. Post World War II, low-cost screen printing inspired the production of more experimental and avant-garde patterns. Also during this time, an upwelling of ranch homes in the growing suburbs inspired the wallpaper industry to create bold patterns wallpaper to accent and jazz up the simple, open, and modern design of these ranch houses. Textile designs at this time were also very bold and featured prisms, grids, doodles, and loops of geometric inspired design.


Fairey on Houston

Shepard Fairey just put his mark on the wall Keith Haring made famous, on Houston and Bowery.  Like Haring, Fairey covers surfaces with his signature style and activates spaces that were previously neutral, unnoticed, or forgotten.  But unlike Haring, Fairey’s work draws direct inspiration from traditional wallpaper– his oft used, repeating floral pattern looks like it came right out of a baroque living room.  By conjuring wallpaper right beside images that evoke posters, newspapers, stickers, and flags, Fairey creates the illusion of paper layers and toys with the idea of surface itself.

To me, Fairey’s mural on Houston highlights the perhaps obvious but nonetheless dramatic transformation that has happened to New York since Haring painted his mural on the same spot in 1982.  “The corner of Houston and Bowery was a desolate area to begin with,” Haring once recalled, “so we decided that we didn’t have to ask permission.  We thought that if we cleaned up the garbage then no one was going to ask us whether we had permission to paint it.”  How times have changed!

New York Magazine has a terrific slide show of the installation process.  I’m looking forward to seeing the show at Dietch.

[Images from Tom Slaughter]

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!



Beautiful Homes Wallpaper, General

Shaw Mansion Wallpaper

From Intern at Large Karli Hendrickson:

The New London County Historical Society, located in the Shaw Mansion, is renovating the old servants quarters into an educational space. During these renovations, cool old wallpapers are being revealed. As they work on the walls, they are discovering layers of papers ranging from an original 1850′s paper to many reproduction papers from the 1930′s to the 1970′s. Executive Director Edward Baker gave me a tour of the rooms with the best wallpaper examples.

Awesome. Thanks Karli!


State of the Wallpaper, Wallpaper of the State

Watching the State of the Union last night, my eye kept going to the wallpaper!  I sent a research inquiry to the art and history division of the Capital — they have lots of information online about the stuatues, friezes, and paintings in the building, but I didn’t see anything about this pattern.  Will let you know what I find out.

Picture 23

Picture 24

[photos from]