I don’t think I have ever been so excited when writing a wallpaper post…ever! Now that is saying something considering the fact that there are 98 posts about wallcoverings here on the blog. But this particular wallpaper collection really is something special and I’ll tell you why. The New Wave Collection from Graham & Brown features 16 wonderful new wallpaper designs from some of Britain’s most talented up-and-coming surface pattern designers. The collection was curated by esteemed design journalist Barbara Chandler, who is known for passionately supporting emerging talent. She has worked with Graham & Brown to select designers from a variety of fields including textiles, illustration, street art and fashion. And what is really great about New Wave is the fact that it offers high-end design at high-street prices.
Barbara was impressed by the level of British surface pattern design, but was disappointed by the lack of recognition from the design world. Luckily, Graham & Brown agreed and decided to team up with Barbara in an attempt to rectify the situation. A briefing session was held at the Graham & Brown headquarters in Blackburn where a select group of emerging designers were given a factory tour and were able to learn about Graham & Brown’s production techniques. They spent time in the design studio and were promised ongoing support from the G&B design and product development team throughout the project.
It seemed to me that Britain now leads the world in the creation of surface pattern, yet only a fraction was finding its way to market, or indeed acknowledged in the wider design world. Whilst professional design magazines extensively cover, for example, furniture and product design, they seem unwilling to acknowledge pattern as a UK design strength.
The brief that was given to the designers was to: “Interpret what inspires you and create a wallpaper design that tells us the story of your insights.” The result was 16 fabulously diverse designs by 13 extremely talented designers, three of which I have previously interviewed right here on The Design Sheppard.
Helen Stevens – Feather
Helen runs a design studio called Surfacephilia, which produces her collections of wallpapers, fabrics, cushions and bone china, as well as creating surface patterns for other brands. Her wallpaper, Feather, was inspired by her interpretation of British pattern as a mix of, “British heritage, period styles, craftsmanship and the rural environment”. You can read my interview with Helen here.
Louise Tiler – Urban Tree
Award-winning designer Louise Tiler studied at the Leeds College of Art, and her intricate designs have featured on wallpapers, textiles, greetings cards, kitchenware and ceramics. Urban Tree reflects her interest in using double-exposure photography as a creative technique, as well as her love of nature. Commenting on her design she said: “My wallpaper reflects the blend of natural and urban environments that have to coincide in today’s modern habitats and city environments.” You can read my interview with Louise here.
Jessica Hogarth – Tour de Yorkshire
Jessica Hogarth is a 25-year-old illustrator, whose hand-drawn work is inspired by the buildings and seascapes of her native North Yorkshire. Her design for the New Wave collection stayed true to this and her pattern references the fact that the Tour de France will be heading to Yorkshire in 2014 by combining illustrative hilly landscapes and market-town buildings with graphic bicycles. You can read my interview with Jessica here.
Emma J Shipley – Paradisi I & Paradisi II
Emma J Shipley graduated from the Royal College of Art and went on to win Emerging Fashion Brand at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards in 2013. Her two prints for the New Wave collection were part-inspired by the Arts & Crafts designs of William Morris. She says: “The designs are a modern take on traditional Arts & Crafts patterns, given an exotic and surreal edge.”
Kate Usher – Fish
Kate Usher, a graduate of Cleveland College of Art and Design, launched her boutique wallpaper brand thanks to a start-up scheme created by Wayne Hemingway and Gateshead Council. Many of her quirky and fun patterns are designed for children’s interiors but also appeal to design-conscious adults. Fish, her print for the New Wave collection, is inspired by the classic British beach. She says: “Think wet and windy sand dunes, fishing huts, beach combing and rock pooling.” You can read my previous post on Kate’s work here.
Lucinda Abell – Foxglove
Lucinda Abell is a practising fine artist and fashion graduate. She studied Printed Textiles at the Royal College of Art and now creates textile designs for both interior and fashion clients. Her Foxglove design is evocative of historical botanical illustrations but given a modern twist. She says: “The paintings of foxgloves and bees in a trompe l’oeil style are inspired by the idea of bringing the garden into the home.”
Emma Jane Sowerby – Fossil Leaf
Emma Jane Sowerby is an illustrator who specialises in wallpaper and fabric design. One of her wallpaper designs won the Timorous Beasties award last year and was consequently exhibited at The House of Lords. Her Fossil wallpaper was inspired by a summer trip to the Jurassic coast in Dorset, which is famous for its fossils. She says: “I was inspired to research into fossils and discovered the beautiful textures and forms of plant fossils.”
Caroline Davidson – Tapestry
Caroline Davidson taught textiles for nearly 25 years before setting up her Suffolk-based business, Fruit Farm Fabrics. Her work is inspired by designs of the past and her New Wave wallpaper Tapestry is based upon a tapestry made by her grandmother, which she always loved as a child. She says: “Tapestries have been used to adorn walls for centuries, so to develop a tapestry design as contemporary wallpaper seemed a logical thing to do. I have tried to capture the charm of my grandmother’s tapestry, but I have reinvented it for our more sophisticated eye using digital imagery.”
Making such new talent affordable and accessible is a truly bold step for Graham & Brown.It is so exciting that very special designs will be offered at £26 a roll, making boutique wallpaper by an atelier of hand-picked designers available to everyone. I love the democracy of our project. New Wave is a testament to the diversity of talent in surface pattern today.
So there you have it! Is this not the most exquisite wallpaper collection you have ever seen? I love the fact that it is created but such a fantastic group of up-and-coming designers all of which are waving the flag for British design. And I really admire the work of Barbara Chandler and Graham & Brown for bringing the wealth of talent in this great nation to the forefront. I’d be hard pushed if I had to pick a favourite from this fabulous selection. What about you? Any particular paper catch your eye?