Wallpaper, Art Or All The Above?

Imagine strolling from a cool, leafy forest or sunny, tranquil beach into an ancient stone cathedral in five minutes flat. That can happen as you walk from room-to-room in your home thanks to wall coverings, which have morphed from mere decorative treatments to transformative design elements. Variations exist that can transport you to an exotic locale or change a space into anything from a verdant nature preserve to a handsome book-lined library. Some can even take the place of art on your walls. Frame the right wallpaper and voilà—it can become a significant artwork in its own right.

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We used Porter Teleo’s hand-painted wallcovering in the pattern Tangled in a recently completed powder room.

As interior designers, we seek the most groundbreaking products possible for our luxury clients—which takes us far beyond the boundaries of Chicago. And we’ve come across some remarkable wall coverings, made by some of the most talented young artists in the country, that do all of the above. So we wanted to share a few of these extraordinary lines we’ve seen lately, and started to incorporate into our projects, that can make plain walls spectacular.

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Abstract expressionist painter Lindsay Cowles transforms the designs of her paintings into wall coverings and textiles. Photo: Lindsay Cowles

Lindsay Cowles: There’s a reason why Lindsay Cowles’ wall coverings feel as fresh and edgy as an original work of art: they’re based on her vibrant abstract expressionist paintings and giclée canvas prints. When her energetic work is transformed into wall coverings—or textiles, which she also produces—their dynamic colors and patterns add energy and excitement to a space.

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Lindsay Cowles wall coverings are created from details of her unique artworks. Photo: Lindsay Cowles

Best of all, all of Lindsay’s wall coverings are also eco-friendly, wipeable, pre-pasted, removable and fire-rated Class A, which is as good as it gets since they’re easy to use without special installation techniques—a remarkable standard for a luxury product. As interior designers, we also appreciate that Cowles makes commercial quality wall coverings, which are ideal for high-traffic areas or where water and humidity can muck up surfaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

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Artist Shanan Campanaro offers dozens of stunning nature-inspired wallpapers, like this pattern evoking lush tropical leaves. Photo: Eskayel

Eskayel: Much like the wall coverings we source from Lindsay Cowles, Eskayel’s products are based on original artworks made by Brooklyn-based artist Shanan Campanaro, who attended the prestigious Central Saint Martins College at the University of the Arts in London. She is inspired by nature and travel—especially sunset colors and the ocean. That helps explain the many beautiful designs she creates where colors bleed into each other and evoke an affecting ephemeral mood. Her stated mission is to create energetically positive, eco-friendly and innovative products, and has an ever-growing range of lines.

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Eskayel’s wall coverings are based on artist Shanan Campanaro’s paintings. Photo: Eskayel

For now, Eskayel offers four types of wall coverings (for residential and contract use), printed small-batch fabrics, commercial use textiles, rugs and decorative accessories that feature her designs, such as pillows, baskets, poufs, stationary and prints. She is so committed to the environment that her products are produced as sustainably as possible and use water-based inks, natural linens and organic cottons and recycled materials. They’re also produced in the U.S. and she donates 1 percent of her total sales to environmental organizations.

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We are big fans of the handcrafted wallpapers created by Kansas City-based Porter Teleo, used here in one of our projects. Photo: Porter Teleo

Porter Teleo: Artist Kelly Porter and designer Bridgett Cochran, both based in Kansas City, teamed up to found this line of fabrics and wall coverings, which tends to feature such graphically dramatic designs that their work stands squarely at the intersection of art and function. They use many methods to create their painstakingly crafted products, including wood blocking, different painting techniques and chine colle.

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Porter Teleo employs a range of artistic techniques to create their bold wallpaper patterns, such as one shown here in a Kelly Wearstler project. Photo: Porter Teleo

The results are large, bold patterns that range from geometric to organic and can be colorful, or not. Their blocky Outside the Box pattern evokes the paintings of famed abstract artist Mark Rothko, while Fluidity (created by allowing inks to evaporate naturally) has a much more hazy, freeform profile and organic vibe. We recently took two large swathes of one of their most graphic patterns, Tangled in stark black and white, and framed them as artworks to stand on their own for our own Chicago office, a loft. The strong, vibrant monochromatic pattern makes an arresting, and major, statement, and worked wonders on our 19-foot-high wall that was looking positively naked and definitely didn’t reflect our passion for design. Watch for a picture on our Instagram account soon.

14 Aug 2015

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