Feature Photo: “Inverted Spaces” Collection – Andromeda
Photo credit Calico Wallpaper / Courtesy of Calico Wallpaper
Article by Roxana Florina Popa
In January 2015, NASA released the largest-ever-taken photos of Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbour, showing over 100 million stars stretching over 40,000 light-years.
Andromeda – NASA images, YouTube
In September 2015, Calico Wallpaper, a brand new American company – born out of the 2012 Hurricane Sandy´s passing through New York City – is present at the London Design Festival.
They already have “Inverted Spaces” among their collections, in styles reminding of constellations and galaxies like Ursa, Phoenix and Orion.
Calico Wallpaper clears walls away and installs instead the windows of our soul to the infinite nature:
In any home, business interior and in the Design House hosted by Mallett Antiques.
Calico Wallpaper in the Drawing Room at Mallett Antiques
Photo credit Ed Reeve / Courtesy of Calico Wallpaper
At the time of Hurricane Sandy´s passing through New York City, Nick Cope was the owner of the company Dark Green working on projects in luxury design interior and Rachel Cope worked in the NYU Hospital as an art therapist. Their activities being blocked by the hurricane and having discovered the marbled paper of the 40s designers, Erwine and Estelle Laverne, in the antiques store “Spirit & Matter”, they started building a new project together with their studio assistant, Najee Wilson.
Their project is about marbling paper using various ancient techniques, such as the Turkish Ebru and the Japanese Shibori, and nowadays’ digital technology in order to obtain a completely new product with architectural application – wallpapers.
Calico collections are of a naturalist inspiration expanding to endless, uninhabited spaces, ever-running waters and NASA imagery of moonscapes and galaxies, all in an ever-surprising, delicate transience.
They reflect one of the inspirations for 2015-2016: precious. This won Calico Wallpaper an invitation by Elizabeth Leriche within the framework of the famous Fair “Maison & Objet” in Paris.
Maison & Objet Observatoire de la Maison defines “precious” as “[t]he word immediately evok[ing] cut stones and their mysterious settings, raw materials rendered more beautiful still by the genius of man. In art, precious entails a character of great delicacy, brilliance, even wealth. It is often linked to gold, mirrors and ornaments. But, while all that is valuable is precious, preciousness does not hold the same value for everyone. From somewhat trivial affectation to the very essence of life, preciousness inspires dialogue between excessive materiality and the most extreme fragility”.
Preciousness announces the beginning of “a post-bling aesthetic invoke[ing] the magic of gold”. Designers taking this direction are seen as “neo- alchemists who transmogrify materials for creation”.
“Inverted Spaces” Collection – Phoenix
Photo Credit Calico Wallpaper / Courtesy of Calico Wallpaper
Calico wallpapers render deep moments by ourselves, sunk in the contemplation of nature. They bring to surface the most intimate and poetic feelings of our free soul:
“Ultraviolet can be a bit dangerous.
A teenage fantasy sends us to the very brink and beyond.”
“The kingdom of Heaven is like electricity
You don’t see it because it is within you.”
“A reflection on the endless variation in each day’s cycle of dawn and dusk”
Poetic descriptions and photo credit Calico Wallpaper / Courtesy of Calico Wallpaper
“Neon is dazzling and even a
bit overwhelming to some”.
“On the Bayou there is little movement,
yet in the still green water there is an unparalleled allure.”
Differently from other wallpapers producers, Calico distinguishes itself by doing away with the repeating, identical pattern.
Calico introduces patterns that follow each other and this is far more challenging and attractive in the contemporary design. Let yourself engaged into finding the following pattern!
Nick and Rachel Cope before their collection at Mallett Antiques
Photo credit Ed Reeve / Courtesy of Mallett Antiques
Roxana-Florina Popa: Why do people usually look at walls? What do they expect to see there?
Nick Cope, Calico Wallpaper: My background before Calico was interior design, such as renovating and rebuilding apartments in New York City and painting white walls, flat walls even when adding colour. I felt that by using paper and adding pattern you really create a kind of emotional envelope for room. This moved me into wallpaper crafting.
Part of inspiration behind Calico was the immersive effect done in a beautiful, decorative way. In the United States, there is this tradition of creating landscapes scenes where the history of families is displayed around entry rooms or dining rooms. We found that creating an immersing artwork is rather abstract. It was the creation of a pattern that indulges the room and can have an emotional impact on the audience, elevate and change the space dramatically.
RFP: How do you feel in a white room and how do you feel in a wallpapered room?
NC: It depends on the wallpapers. If you have a simple pattern, it can add a lot of background beauty.
What we do here takes more foreground compared to a flat, striped or diamond repeating pattern, for example. This allows participation in space in a different way.
A white wall has its own use and it can be nice having minimalistic aesthetics like we see in Sweden. However, we really like this experiment with creating dramatic patterns.
RFP: What are the advantages of a Calico space? What do home owners appreciate the most about the Calico wallpapers? And what do business owners?
NC: I think on a practical level, business owners like that the material is surface coded and strong. It can be used in a hotel or a spa because it is moisture resisting. The technology side was designed with this in mind particularly. As for the style, flair drama, I think it works really nice in a restaurant. It is all customizable, produced in various colours, in line with the desired commercial setting development.
Aurora Ray, Installation at Concrete Water
Photo Credit: William Foster / Courtesy of Calico Wallpaper
Homeowners are involved at an emotional, intimate level with our brand. Our work is fitted for the walls and we take specific measurements in someone’s home and we lay out a sort of art work so that it uniquely travels around space.
Aurora Ray, featuring Plant in City and Electric Love
Photo credit: White Arrow / Courtesy of Calico Wallpaper
We did a work for Niel Patrick Harris, entertainer and actor, and we decorated his bedroom in a custom Lunaris Smoke colourway. I think for a private owner there is more connection to the brand, me and Rachel and our small team.
RFP: How did you discover dying techniques like Shibori , Ombre, Ebru?
NC: We started by researching in the Internet. We found examples of marbled papers and books in antiques shops. We later travelled to Italy and studied a bit in Florence experimenting with Florentine marbling which involved a fascinating, controlled and organised style. In New York City we have found many resources in libraries and picture archives. We went through thousands of different images and instructional information from Internet videos and we trained with people hands-on, as well. There was a multitude of sources.
Maison & Objet 2015, stand of Elizabeth Leriche trend agency
Photo credit: Calico Wallpapers / Courtesy of Calico Wallpaper
RFP: You were invited at Maison & Objet by Elizabeth Leriche Bureau de style to illustrate one of the inspirations for 2015/2016, namely PRECIOUSNESS. How would you define it?
NC: This is a very important topic now. Even in London this week we had this show at V&A Museum about what luxury is. Something precious, even luxurious, I think is a complex issue, involving our understanding of where we fit in and what we think about it. For us, preciousness relates a lot to the time and human effort that goes into creating something very beautiful, very unique, takes a tremendous amount of skills and patience, search and Rachel’s talent as an artist to create something that is the result of endless hours, craftsmanship, but also the collective effort of all people in 1000 years before us having marbled paper. Here in Mallett’s Drawing Room, we see superlative pieces which are precious because so much effort went into creation.
Calico Wallpaper in the Drawing Room at Mallett Antiques
Photo credit: Ed Reeve / Courtesy of Mallett Antiques
RFP: How long did it take Calico to arrive at its results after experimenting and researching marbling methods and pigments?
NC: I would say that it happened quickly. We went from making very small, postcard-sized marbled pieces of paper to creating prints on the scale in a matter of 6 months or less. We had a lot of time in these 6 months after the hurricane in New York. My project had been put on hold for 2 to 3 months. When I returned to interior design, I worked less so that I could focus on Calico.
The pattern exhibited here took about 6 months. Rachel put the accent on process driven art making and I did the design part. I studied digital technology for my degree and I worked in digital photography after college, which means 15 to 20 years of work before. I think things happened at the perfect moment and very quickly.
RFP: What does Calico bring to us in terms of American Design?
NC: I think American designers are possibly having a Renaissance now. There is a lot of focus on American design. American design follows the American spirit of pioneering, characterises through industriousness and the ease of breaking conventions.
In Europe there is so much tradition behind and each of its countries has a lot of heritage and history. In our conversation with Italian marblers, it came out that they would have never thought to take the technique of marbling paper and combine it with technology and then, have it custom-printed for architectural usage. In Turkey, expert marblers, with whom we were constantly in contact, were simply fascinated by breaking with the traditional usages of paper marbling for books or small decorative prints and looking at it from a different perspective.
The New York design scene is so big and studios are popping-up every month. Designers of lighting, furniture and marbling paper are just emerging. My personal theory is that Americans below 40s who were so exposed to television, brand messaging – the youngest were even born with the Internet at their disposal – feel confident to start a company and make it look like a very legitimate brand with a legitimate presence and packaging in just 6 months. One can see that a lot.
RFP: Are you looking for distributors in Europe at the moment?
NC: We hope to get distributors first in the UK and next in Paris. I think the European client more readily wants to see, feel and touch the product, see it installed and feel comfortable that there is a local distributor that can help them with any issues. In the United States, we have people ordering directly from our studio. Having presence in Europe would be very good.
Special Thanks go to Calico Wallpapers, Mallett Antiques and Camron PR
25 September 2015, London
This article has been selected into the book “Beauty Elegance Creativity – 12 Interviews on the Act of Creation” published by Roxana Florina Popa