Since creating this guide…
I have received emails from a number of people who have expressed relief that, finally, some sensible blogger (moi!) thought to create a comprehensive guide to stylish wall coverings. This got me thinking: mini guides are the way forward.
To this end, I have already dreamed up the next mini guide which looks at a sub-category of wallpaper and that is… wall stickers! They are so cool they deserve their own post, anyway, enough of that, are you ready for the next instalment of paper madness? Brace yourselves!
To kick off, we are moving up a category to what I consider to be the more expensive papers that are harder to find (unless you know where to look that is.) They don’t usually come up on any Google searches, at least nowhere near the top.
First of all is probably my favourite wallpaper designer: Alberto Fornasetti who creates classic, rich, jaw-droppingly beautiful designs. My favourite is his Mediterranea and the exquisite Riflesso:
His designs can all be found at Cole and Son as can my other favourite prints, Cow Parsley which can be found in the New Contemporary collection section – not sure who designs it, could by C & S themselves. No prices are given which means they are expensive – I have seen Mediterannia on Wallpaper Direct for around £200 a roll (ouch!)
Over at 95% Danish, you can access Ferm Living’s uber funky wallpapers – my particular faves are Bindweed and Silhouette and they range from £39.00 to £45 a roll.
For a great all-round site that can source papers from all over, at any price, check out Wallpaper Direct but I warn you, it can be really time consuming and rather overwhelming but you can save your favourites (and order 2 free samples) as well as being able to see how the papers will look in different flash rooms which is handy – however, despite ordering samples over two weeks ago, I’m STILL waiting! Not a good show!
Seen enough? Well, hold your horses my pretties because I haven’t even begun! What kind of purveyor of fine papers would I be if I neglected to mention the Designers’ Guild? Oh my, some of the papers are almost good enough to eat, like a Popsicle on a hot summer’s day; the vibrant colours will bring a room to life.
And I know you are not meant to covet such things, but sod the kids, I want to have this delish paper all for myself! Cuter than cute!
Now, I haven’t really covered them in detail, but Marks and Spencers,
Laura Ashley and my old mate Cath Kidston all sell a rather limited assortment of papers – although they tend to be mid range prices. But to be honest, nothing is exceptionally exciting. I do think Cath K’s clown paper is great for kiddies’ bedrooms and the rose print is fresh and chintzy…
But if you are a hardcore Vintage lover and want real bonefidee vintage paper, look no further then Rosie’s Vintage Papers.
This site is a gem and if you are after something authentic, you’ll feel like you have struck gold. Below are just a few samples of the great timeless prints you can get your hands on – and not too expensive either – only drawback is, yep, you guessed it, they are US based! Pants!
Similarly, Secondhand Rose (another US company) offer all kinds of vintage prints – they totally remind me of Granny Gough’s back bedroom – I can almost smell the carmine soap and beeswax floor polish. Ahh!
And how about an original 1920s Sarah Bernhardt design below – magic! The irony is, we would have stripped this sort of paper out of our homes a few years ago and now we are willing to pay through the nose for a little authenticity – nowt as strange as folk as my old mum would say.
But, if you are not into fusty old designs, however authentic, you might want to have a look at Deborah Bowness’s creations.
I have been lauding this lady for a while now since spotting her hand-printed papers in a design mag and, heavens above, they are beautiful – shame about the price tag. Still one can dream…
Finally, I may have mentioned her in my last post but she certainly deserves another mention – the first lady of wallpaper, Suzy Hoodless. Her divine prints are just the right side of edgy and will doubtless adorn many an achingly cool Manhattan loft apartment (and hopefully a quirky little Victorian mid terrace in Bristol, ehem!)
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed your trip through the wallpaper world – remember to come back for the wallstickers saga…
Ciao for now…x
When it comes to wallpaper, ever find that you are bamboozled with choice yet nothing quite hits the mark? Hmmm?
Balk at the thought of another season of woodchip? Well, I am in the throes of redecorating my living room after a horrendous leak way back in January and it has got to the point now where I am sick to the back teeth of looking at the same old bland wallpapers for my feature walls. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, so to that end, I have decided to put together a list of the best places to find that perfect paper to give your walls back their zzzzzzzzing!
To begin at the beginning. There is a problem with the availability of good wallpapers of a reasonable price so to help; I have split this guide into three categories:
‘Low-price bargain-fanciers’’, the ‘Fair to middlers’ and ‘Wowser, I need to take out a loan’. Just skip down to the one that most describes your needs. Part two will cover the more expensive options…
The low-price bargain fanciers’ guide
B & Q. Very disappointing (I hate their website, it’s so un-user friendly) but they have lots of useful info for dummies who can’t paste a bit of paper onto a wall and confusingly, they give you a chart of symbols to help you decipher the symbols they created to help you understand the wallpaper – confused?
However, I managed to pick out one or two cheaper reproductions of the more expensive ones I have had my eye on and they do sell some British Design Talent prints as well as some Wayne Hemingway numbers. However, there are couple that are ticking the box, albeit in a rather weak soft pencily way that is barely visible (see below).
This statement Kristen Flock paper is lovely and comes in at £39.98 per role.
Basso and Brooke Soma wallpaper at £24.98 per roll is crazy and busy and might just do my head in, but I loves it (I am thinking I might go and get a sample and frame it for a funky piece of wall art!)
Contour Geo wallcovering (below) – I like this Mondrian-inspired number but it would need to be restricted to one feature wall.
This City Scape paper (below right) by is an absolute steal at just £16.98 a roll – totally cosmic and very on trend with the illustrative style – love it!
For retro meltdown, try this seventies inspired uber-cool paper in chocolate and orange (below) – if only it was scratch n’ sniff paper! Again a snip at £16.98 a roll.
Ok, so that was about it from B & Q but I’m pleased to report that thankfully the lovely people at Graham and Brown are trying to do something this shocking lack of tasteful papers about. If you are after a mid-level price paper, try these beauties for size…
The Fair to Middlers’ guide
If you want a bit of something different, the Frames wallpaper by Taylor and Wood is pretty funky. You can add your own pix and make it totally individual.
I have also discovered the fabulous designs of Erika Wakerly – such as this delish Waltzer print – I’m totally in love with monochrome geometrics at the mo – have a look at more of her designs at The Farnsworth Design Studio.
They stock all sorts of lovely papers but I have my peepers on Graham and Brown’s Eclectic Birdcages paper (£30 a roll)
Another lesser known darling of the wallpaper world is Susy Hoodless whose delicious spring collection has my mouth watering. Here is a selection of my own personal faves.
Ok, so to avoid an information overload, I will end here but get your wallets at the ready for part two – serious wall candy extravaganza awaits you!
Phew, that’s nearly it, for now. I just want to add a couple of ladies into the mix.
Charlotte Perriand was perhaps one of the most influential furniture designers of the early modern movement. She has been credited with bring the industrial age to the world of furniture design and was one of the designers involved in the creation of Le Corbusier’s chaise lounge. She also designed the infamous ‘Stacking Chair’ seen around community centres, bars and bistros the world over.
Patricia Urquiola, a Spanish designer, cut her teeth amongst such purveyors of fine design as Achille Castiglioni and Eugenio Bettinelli and now designs such delights as the Fat Sofa for B & B Italia below.
Ok, Shin’s a fella, but together with Tomoko, this Japanese twosome have produced some of my favourite all time products (though not all of their creations are furniture) however, I love the way that they ‘zjuj’ up everyday objects, such as lights and salt shakers, with elegance and humour. I find the simplicity of their wire chair inspiring (though perhaps it doesn’t make me want to veg out in front of the telly, more sit uncomfortably and comptemplate the difference between a line and a curve. Hmm.
Bigging up the Brits
Of course I can’t forget my own kind – yes, fab furniture is not just for the Fins, Danes, Germans, Italians, French and Spanish. No siree bob. Us Brits are coming, so hold on to your spanners and bendy bits of plastic…
Jasper Morrison is a cheeky cockney designer renowned for his ascetically elegant, quietly humorous style . I am totally digging’ his Cork chair.
Likewise, I quite fancy sliding my bottom on Ron Arad’s weirdly erotic Voido Rocking Chair– spotted one at Heals. Rather! The architect designer (who is actually Israeli but let’s call him an ‘adoptive’ Brit) is well known for his quirky shapes and use of various materials.
Here’s one more for you: Ross Lovegrove. His Go chair is reminiscent of something you would find Sigourney Weaver straddling in Alien. Almost bone like. But I love it!
There are of course countless designers that have contributed to the richness and diverse products that have gone on to inspire modern design, so this is just a smattering. However, these are my personal faves. Hurrah for chairs!
If your appetite has been whetted by my mini-history of chairs, below are a couple of websites worth visiting:
Welcome back to the second installment of my short history of chair design. I have also found a great little chair blog that is worth visiting for up to date info on, well, chairs over in the old blogroll, so check it out.
Back to business…
Charles Eames was a clever bugger. Not only did he revolutionise how we see furniture today but this American designer was the creator of the rather famous Lounge Chair 670 and Ottoman 671. In fact many of the most recognisable chairs around are regurgitated variations on his original creations. He also championed the use of moulded plywood as seen in his beautiful Eames 670 chair.
Arne Jacobsen was one of Denmark’s most influential 20th century architects and designers. His exquisite Swan and Egg chairs, were testament to his passion for modernism and his love for Scandinavian simplicity. He also created one of the most recognisable chairs in existence, the Series 7 chair, and his Egg chair made a memorable appearance in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, he was such a prolific designer, chances are you will either own a Jacobsen-inspired piece or at least covet one!
Verner Panton must’ve had a penchant for hallucinogenic drugs as his futuristic designs couldn’t have been created by a-two-pints-and-a-packet-of-peanuts man. Verner was a total master of plastic and his furniture has been studded across popular culture since he bent his first bit of the bright stuff. Naturally, he was a Dane (see a theme developing here? I tell you it must be something in the water.) Although I cannot afford one, I would just kill to get my paws on an original. Sadly it will never be so I’ll have to settle for a reproduction – fortunately, Purves and Purves sell them in five delicious colours for around £165.
Hans Wenger has also made him name synonymous with outstanding furniture design. Having begun his career as an assistant to Erik Møller and Arne Jacobsen, Wegner branched out on his own and created such classics as the Wing chair seen here.
Moving into 21st century design
Following up such inspirational design icons was always going to be a challenge and thankfully there are some real contenders for the modern furniture design crown such as the charming Terence Conran, who not only founded Habitat back in the 1960s but produced a load of talented offspring who are also a dab hand at the old design malarky. And lest us not forget the imitable Philippe Starck, whose Louis Ghost chairs can be seen adorning the chicest of boudoirs.
Other designers that float my boat include Peter Karpf who dreamt up the awesome the Tri Chair – both ergonomic and sustainable as it is formed from one entire piece of wood, ticking all the must-have green boxes required in modern design.
Described as one of the most European of Japanese designers, Toshiyuki Kita is famous for his ‘Wink’ chair which was typical of the loud design aesthetic popular in the 1980s.
We had to get a Spaniard into the mix, and who better than Molina. This designer has created a whole host of iconic pieces, perhaps none more so that the nature-inspired, Leaf Chair.
San Giovanni Piretti is an amazing Italian furniture designer, Piretti crafted the now ubiquitous ‘Plia’ folding chair – I was bought one for Christmas in the 80s and never realised what a design classic it was.
What can I say about chairs? Well. We sit on them – a lot. We whine about them at work. They can give us so much comfort, yet they have been known to cause some serious aches and pains – so why do we have such an ongoing love affair with the humble chair?
I have long been an admirer of ‘la chaise’ and cannot pass a furniture shop without stopping to drool over the latest ergonomic offering, so with this in mind, I have decided to compile a short modern history for all you furniture fans out there, to give you the low down on the all time best bottom candy.
To begin at the beginning…
Many years after we swapped the hard rock for the patch of moss, some bright spark decided that we were getting a bit grubby on the floor, and it was playing havoc with granny’s lumbago and the chair came into existence (I would just like to point out that this is not historically accurate) and thank God it did.
All hail the Bauhaus
The 20th century was awash with designers, many of whom came from an architectural background, and all were fixated on designing the most fabulous chairs. For the uninformed, Bauhaus is the name given to the particularly pertinent era of design which began in Germany in 1919 and ended in 1933. This design school created a number of amazing furniture designers and sparked a period of experimental and innovative design which has clearly inspired the majority of contemporary furniture creators.
Gerrit Rietveld never actually attended the Bauhaus but was one of the architecht / designers that inspired many who did. He was an early member of the Dutch Modernist Design Movement (De Stijl) before going on to create the Schroeder House in Utrecht, Holland. However, he is probably most famous for his Mondrian-inspired Red/Blue Chair – very stu-stu-studio line ‘n looks a bit of a beast to sit on!
Luwig Mies van der Rohe worked in an architectural firm before turning his hand to furniture, and good job he did as we wouldn’t have the fabulous Barcelona chair as seen propping up the bums of the entrepreneurs on Dragons’ Den. He was actually the director of the Bauhaus from 1930 until it closed in 1933 when the war kicked in and he scarpered to the US.
Marcel Breuer – Hungarian Breuer was a top architect and is famous for his rather quirky steel designs such as the Cesca chair below. A firm favourite of executive types that like to play with stress-bustin’ office gadgets while musing the movements of the stock market.
Le Corbusier an architect by profession is for many the most influential yet most maligned architect of the twentieth century. Famed for his ideas on urbanisation, he was a true modernist and many of his ideas were used to inspire the post war regeneration efforts. I love his Basculante chair below and of course his celebrated chaise lounge…
Alvar Aalto was a bit of a revolutionary and yep, you guessed it, a Scandinavian, well Finnish actually. His work typifies the best of 20th-century Scandinavian architecture, and he was one of the first to depart from the stiffly geometric designs in favour of a more ergonomic expression. I love his simple stool which is as popular now as it has ever been.
Eero Saarinen is more well known in design circles but your average Joe may not be familiar with the name. Another Fin, Saarinen – not to be confused with the evil overlord from LOTR – created the beautiful Tulip Chair below – simple yet beautiful.