The Wallpaper Makes a Comeback

The paint alternative gets a makeover with sturdier materials, state-of-the-art technology, and modern artistry.

Photographs courtesy of each supplier.

"Ten years ago," says Paul Simmons, who launched Timorous Beasties, a Glasgow design firm that makes fabrics and wallpapers, in 1990, "digital wallpaper was not nonexistent. But it was bad quality—even five years ago. Now the quality is amazing, so everyone's using it." That's only slightly hyperbolic: A confluence of artistry, computing power, and sturdier paper is transforming wallpaper into a much more interesting alternative to paint. Here, three designers talk about the inspiration for—and production of—their gallery-worthy work.


Photographs courtesy of each supplier.


Photographs courtesy of each supplier.


Photographs courtesy of each supplier.

Venson's flora-and-fauna-inspired papers, like "Octopussi" (left), start as hand-painted watercolors before being digitally reproduced for the masses. "My entire apartment is wallpapered," Venson says. "I like the idea that it's a mass-produced printed object, but the watercolor gives the viewer a relationship to the artist's hand."

__Pro Tip

George Venson on bringing wallpaper into your home:__

"This is a new type of paper—thin and strong. BUt you can take it down in a few hours without ruining your walls. If you want to hang a painting, you just tap in a nail—you don't have to treat it like it's precious. People are terrified of wallpaper, but they shouldn't be."

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