Before we start designing a new wallpaper collection, we normally sit down and talk about a mood, a theme, and maybe a colour palette. We might bring along a piece of inspiration – a scrap of fabric, a postcard, or something torn from a magazine. We then create a mood board for our studio wall which becomes our reference point – it usually grows and develops as we go along.
As for our overarching creative inspiration, many things – from music and film, to artists, locations, historical eras, fashion and found objects – shape our aesthetic…
Elizabeth reflects on her creative influences
“Browsing in vintage shops and antique markets is one of life’s little joys – I seek out pieces of treasure and imagine where these items have been before they were in my possession. I’m drawn to anything that’s shiny, bright and vivid – colour and metallics always catch my eye. Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of decorative objects, textiles, jewellery, furniture, books and imagery that I often reference in my wallpaper designs. I love to extract from a cherished piece of vintage art or design from my archive, then use modern techniques to create something that’s completely unique and unexpected. Some of the designs from our latest collection, The Islands, were inspired by antique prints and illustrations from my archive – in particular, Faroe and Kitts.
“Milton Avery is one of my all-time favourite painters – the freedom of his marks, the stylised forms, and the luminosity of the colours he used are endlessly compelling – soft and yet vibrant at the same time. Recently I’ve been enjoying the works of Dame Elizabeth Blackadder – for her delicate botanical pieces – and Mary Fedden – delightful naïve still life paintings, flooded with colour.
“Still on a colour theme, the Italian fashion house and homeware brand La DoubleJ also inspires me. JJ Martin’s rather fabulous maximalist designs feature geometric, kaleidoscopic patterns and sassy florals – she’s resurrected vintage prints that had previously been archived and used a palette that’s saturated with luscious, eye-popping colour.
“In the world of interiors, I’ve recently discovered Calico Wallpaper. The New York husband and wife team have re-appropriated traditional techniques and combined them with modern digital technology to create themed collections of wall coverings. Fusing handmade art with digital enlargement and print creates these wonderful custom-made murals which bring texture, colour and pattern to living spaces – they’re beautifully atmospheric.
“Another new find is Newton Paisley – a textiles and wallpaper brand. At first glance you’ll see gorgeous intricate depictions of nature, in a spectrum of rich and vibrant colours, but each design showcases neglected or endangered species and sales of fabric contribute to the preservation of wild habitat through World Land Trust – ethics in line with our own commitment to sustainability.
“I also follow the interiors writer, broadcaster, and influencer, Michelle Ogundehin. Michelle used to be the editor of Elle Decoration and she’s just released a book – ‘Happy Inside – how to harness the power of home for health and happiness’ which explores the link between our homes and wellbeing – this is something I’m really interested in. Michelle has some fantastic Instagram stories about using bold, rich colour combinations with all sorts of texture, from antique mirror to anaglypta, in her home. I love how playful and bold she is with colour and texture – although it’s varied, it just works so well together.
“Retro and fashion-oriented TV shows and films are really inspiring me at the moment. I love the styling of Killing Eve – the assassin Villanelle’s diverse wardrobe features Dries Van Noten, The Vampire’s Wife gowns, gothic Alexander McQueen couture and frothy Molly Goddard tulle. The costume design for Spike Lee’s movie, BlacKkKlansman also caught my eye. It’s all about 70s style with prints, earthy tones, metallics and exaggerated wide collars. And I’m loving the 80s resurgence and how it’s being referenced in current design – our Bahama wallpaper captures that opulent ‘more is more’ character of Versace’s flamboyant silk shirts and scarves.
Lauren, our senior designer, shares her inspirations
“I don’t usually go looking for inspiration – it often finds me, unexpectedly!
“I was out in the garden recently and noticed the blossoming apple tree. Just seeing it made me want to get straight to my desk and draw the delicate pale pink petals and closed buds which contrasted with the slightly gnarly branches. I’ve always been inspired by flowers – especially spring blossoms and the more sculptural magnolia blooms.
“Like many people, music puts me into a really good, happy place and makes me want to be creative. I lose myself in rock music – my favourite band is Enter Shikari, an electronic-based rock band – but I also love 70s rock.
“Nature and the seasons are a constant source of inspiration for me. Walking my dog means exposure to the ever-changing scenery, all year round. We’ve been taking Baxter to Friston Forest, along the South Downs, and found a hidden gem of a vantage point where you can see for miles and miles. Eventually I’d love to create a design based around the sweeping views – at this stage I’m not sure how literal it would be, it might end up being something quite abstract.
“Films with a strong identity, like The Great Gatsby, also spark my creative side. The fusion of style, costume, set, soundtrack – and mood they evoke – really inspires me. I’d love to do a collection based around an iconic film, where I’ll sit and watch the film and pull together a set of designs.”
We hope our article has given you an insight into what inspires us – and how this filters through into our design style.