Wallpaper has come full circle...so...that means it’s back--right?
Wallpaper is something that can stand out to a lot of us as something comical. A funny blip in the history of our pop culture where we say, “What were we thinking?!” Remember the matching floral everything that looked like the exorcist threw up roses on an entire room; or do you try to block that period out? Why we felt the need to match the walls with the duvet cover and a sofa I can’t say. All I know is that it is pretty embarrassing yet rolling on the floor funny at times to recall.
These funny memories are actually just a brief moment in a very long history. Wallpaper for most of its lifetime represented wealth and high social standing. Interestingly enough, it originated as a type of tapestry in the Middle Ages used as both something decorative and practical; applying it on a stone wall provided insulation. See the picture posted below. Or if you are in the Denver area, there is a beautiful example exhibited on the 4th floor of the Denver Art Museum. So much more beautiful in person. Tapestries are so intricate...and huge! These tapestries though were only a nicety for those who could afford it. Typically one in a nobleman’s home would cost more than the entire house of a peasant. They were time consuming pieces of art that were not only expensive to source the materials for but the commission for tradesmen was a pretty penny as well...wait penny?! Should I say a pretty pence?
1. The Last Supper, designed by Bernard van Orley, 1492-1541, probably woven by Pieter de Pannemaker active 1517-1535. Medium: wool, silk, silver-gilt thread. This splendid Last Supper is part of a series of four tapestries, designed about 1520, illustrating the Passion of Christ and possibly woven for the duke of Alba. 2. Flocking is the technique of adding tiny fibers to a surface to create texture similar to velvet. 3. Europeans were enamored of the Eastern style and replications of their designs were rampant although authentic pieces were more highly prized.
When the dark veil of the the Middle Ages lifted, The Renaissance brought about an infinite amount of advancements and wallpaper became an inexpensive alternative to textiles. This was the beginning of wallpaper as we know and love (?) today. Manufacturers were developing different techniques like block printing and flocking. They were collaborating with their Eastern counterparts and designing amazing chinoiseries. Wallpaper even became a way to catalog current events, ironically enough, portraying scenes like the French Revolution of 1776 and the Great Exhibition of 1851. Can you imagine if they had pinterest back then? Their wallpaper inspo boards would be racked titles like, “Doth t Yourself Carriage Wallpaper”, or “How to Wallpaper the Interi'r of thy Armoire”.
Jumping ahead to today, we are experiencing a growth in the wallpaper industry very similar to the one that occurred in the Renaissance era. Technological advancements have given a new life to the ancient art. Some would even say wallpaper has come full circle. With new advances in digital printing, more lasting dyes and numerous ways of application and removal the industry has been given back to the minds and hands of the creative! In essence, this translates to modernized designs and stunning custom murals that make your jaw drop. Look for example at Black Crow Studios in LA. This company provides ridiculously beautiful artesian murals for your home or your business. It is a sure way to leave an impression on whoever looks at it. Or check out a company called, Design Your Wall. They manage to produce thousands of wallpapers that are a great quality and sold an affordable price. It might take a good year to go through all of their options but you definitely won't be bored in the process. Just these two companies, out of thousands in the industry, make a painted wall seem so drab and sad...
Not only is wallpaper back, but it’s helping the world become a safer place! Companies like Sika have figured out how to reinforce existing buildings with “wallpaper” so they can withstand seismic events. This new innovation has the potential to save thousands of lives and preserve the worlds historical buildings.
When all is said and done, I think it is safe to say wallpaper has earned back it's place in the world. The embarrassing phase of braces and greasy skin is over and it is once again one of the cool kids. "I wish I could be like the cool kids".