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If These Walls Could Talk…

July 24, 2012

It seems, increasingly, they might as well talk. As far as new interiors are concerned, they definitely are conversation starters.

If you have noticed that wall coverings have staged a quiet but accelerating return, you are not alone.

What started with textures, both modest so as not to compete with more than a decade's worth of paint, to more sophisticated ones such as are offered by Philip Jeffries or the growing selection of grass cloths on full display at Kravet, to high-profile effects rivaling tile or stucco, walls are the new canvas for interior designers.

Pattern has more recently re-entered the category from diffused florals, abstract splashes of paint, iconic animal prints (Scalamandre' celebrated zebra) to designs more accurately described as wall illustrations than coverings - such as vintage portraits providing an art gallery without the fun or the cost of collecting (seen at ICFF) to fully photographic garden scenery and, most startling, in the form of realistic 3-dimensional greenery (used by Charlotte Moss at Kipps Bay House).

As it turns out, Charlotte Moss may have been prescient and even ahead of last week's couture showings where, according to WWD, Dior's newly installed creative director Raf Simon for his very first collection for the house completely carpeted five rooms with live flowers: one decked out in freesias, another in pink roses and peonies, a third in delphiniums and one covered in white orchids.

While few mortals would either have the budget or the ambition to compete with Raf Simon, it's unlikely that anyone could top Raf Simon's tour de force - the event points to the attention that's newly being paid to walls.

Pattern is not stopping at walls, however.

The connection to home textiles has always been clear. In fact, more often than not, the textile was usually created before suppliers added coordinated wall coverings - typically after the textile design proved to be successful in the marketplace.

This direct connection between home textiles and wallcoverings had been missing in recent years when solids were king, but with the re-assertion of pattern, coordination between the two is once again an asset.
With the trend for "painterly" patterns - impressionistic and abstract designs directly taken from the fine arts and now firmly in place - coordination makes for easy decorating.

Moreover, some wall coverings are indeed home textiles. Grasscloth, for instance, a favorite now being re-discovered by interior designers is fabric laminated to a paper background for easy installation and stability.

Pattern has also taken share in area rugs of late as well as in dinnerware and home accessories. Pattern, it is safe to say is here to stay, replacing the monochromatic interiors of decades past - until the pendulum swings back again.