Design Week Feature: Future Nostalgias Featured

Ateliers creating new wonder walls.

by Himali Singh Soin 18 April 2018

Imagine you’re in some tropical jungle, where leopards languish on trees and elephants bear palanquins of princesses. This is a place of palm trees and palanquins, silks and sailboats, tigers, incense, exotic birds and fortresses. Paired with contemporary, minimal furniture, Misha’s hand-painted silk wallpapers portray scenes of adventure, exploration, nature, wonder and discovery. The series, Tour des Voyages, invites the viewer to dream, to set off on a journey with Marco Polo or Matteo Ricci. The series is comprised of five landscapes: The Tea Route, The Incense Route, The Amber Route, The Spice Route and The Silk Road.

Each occupies its own vivid scene, but the muted, earth-toned colours ensure that it does not overwhelm any interior. The calligraphic thin brush creates delicate details so that the viewer finds something new upon every glance. Misha, founded by Chiara Enrico, combines the words, Milan and Shanghai, transforming wallpaper into a bridge as a means to journey the world. The designer’s goal was to marry historic heritage and oriental silk-working traditions with Italian style concepts to produce wallpaper where each print is a masterpiece. The majority of the design atelier’s clients are architects working on prestigious residential properties.


Calico’s handcrafted Wabi wallpaper, is similarly inspired by the ecological, but abstracted to a microscopic level. Wabi-Sabi is a Buddhist concept that accepts the impermanence of life. This wallpaper is also representative of the company as a whole: founded by the couple, Rachel and Nick Cope, Wabi is “an exploration of nature, and the interconnection of all things.” Calico partners with Dieu Donné to make marbled papers from handmade cotton paper. The series contains seven patterns: Bone, Cloud, River, Bloom, Lichen, Foam and Lotus. Some are less detailed, others more intense, making for a non-repeating combination between rooms. The result is a metallic gold, fluid, cell-like visual that captures light and absorbs darkness. The pattern feels viscous and dynamic, thicker and arterial in some places, and fragile in others. Wabi makes for an immersive atmosphere that is expressive, philosophical and continuous.


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Fromental, founded by Tim Butcher and Lizzie Deshayes, trains hand painters to combine figurative nature drawing, calligraphy and free form, intuitional painting. Their series, kintsugi also celebrates the beauty of the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold-laden lacquer. This collaged wallpaper is part printed, part hand-lacquered and finally hand-finished on paper. Its palette is reminiscent of blue and white pottery from around the world, from ancient Mesopotamian earthenware to contemporary European porcelain. The cut-and-paste aesthetic, bound by gold-laden lacquer, makes the wallpaper ancient and post-modern at once. More figurative but no less philosophical, eleanora is an interpretation of an 18th-century Chinese tree of life mural, depicting a botanical scene in motion: pomegranates bursting, bees hovering and an unusual, colourful bird, watches, perched atop a branch. The design is hand-painted in oil paint on a linen background, then oiled over to create an antiquated effect. It sprouts with joyous reds, yellows and greens. It captures the spirit bliss and bloom in nature, simple and ever complex.


Wall & Decò’s Luna Plena, designed by Lorenzo De Grandis, features a picture of the moon; feminine, cosmic and contemplative. It hovers over a living space, delicate yet mesmerising, reminding the occupier of the bigger picture and the uncontainable vision and depth of the human spirit that found a way to reach it. This vinyl print is a contemporary rendition of eternal concepts such as rhythm, time, distance and dreaming. It comes in three hues of greys so that it can blend into space, literally.

Each of these wallpapers is ultimately a testament to the fact that nature and art are one and that bond, above all others, is sacred.


Each will be on display at this year's Salone del Mobile. The exhibit will be running from 17 to 22 April 2018 and Rho Fieramilano showground. Trade Visitors Only: 17-20 April, General Public: 21-22 April.

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