CMU School of Drama

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wallpapers Gone Wild: Innovative Startups Have Made The '70s Decor Staple Cool Again

Fast Company | Business + Innovation: Designer Katie Deedy vividly remembers the moment her parents took her to pick out her own wallpaper design. Flipping through traditional polka dot and floral patterns, she settled on a graphic Mickey Mouse print in black and white.

"I thought it was the coolest wallpaper ever," she says. "Everything else looked the same ... the most exciting thing was Mickey."

20 comments:

Michelle Li said...

This is so cool! I've only grown up with one part of my former house (the bathroom) that has ever had wall paper. I remember going to my friend's houses with wallpaper and being jealous about how fun and creative their walls were compared to my boring, ol' eggshell finished walls. I think that now wallpaper has become more hip and have more modern patterns, they could really cause a home to become more customized. This article also reminded me of a video I once saw-- it was about how wall papers were originally made and the craftsmanship that was involved with doing so. Here's the link to the awesome, too short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ycigOdc7FU. I think that seeing the amount of work that had to go into doing it before gives me more of an appreciation of how they have come to be now. I have a good family friend who used to work in textiles and used to create wonderfully elaborate designs for wallpapers. I do still hope that there are some shops out there who still make their papers in this old fashioned way because while not so practical anymore, it's still an art form that I feel like should be preserved.

Rebecca Meckler said...

I find it interesting that people want different and original wallpaper. People want to make their houses and apartments not only feel like home but feel special. Deedy says that she wants to make her space into a unique story. I see her point because I like to keep things that have sentimental value to me and I feel reflects who I am or where I’ve been. Also, with the new technology in wallpaper people can change it often and not have to worry about what the next owner might think. They can have the house the way they want it for the as long as they want it, and then change it when it gets boring. I find it that it's interesting they think pinterest is bringing back wallpaper. People want their house to look like the the magazines, but instead of trying to recreate those looks, they go to pintrest for inspiration. Pinterest encourages them to find little details that make the house feel like a home. Its really neat the funky wallpaper is coming into style and growing as a way to create people’s stories in their home.

Angel Zhou said...

As someone who has only ever experienced light, solid-colored wallpaper in every room she's lived in, I find this article particularly fantastic. I love the fact that the wallpaper market is so successful and is composed of so many different elements and thriving companies. HomePolish's ability to create an easily-replaceable wallpaper is a very innovative concept and sparks my curiosity regarding how their installations and removals work. Grow House Grow's push from the New York Times also puts a smile on my face, since I have in the past done marketing with startups, and the involvement of a newspaper is always a touch that elicits respect and joy. Though wallpapers are not a subject that have touched my mind in over a decade, I realize now the merit in an appropriate wall design. I always get excited when I walk around new neighborhoods because I get to imagine what it would be like to live in each new house I pass - I design furniture- and room-setups in my mind. The next time I take one of these imaginative trips, I'll be sure to keep wallpaper in mind as well!

Tahirah Agbamuche said...

When I think of wallpaper, my first thought is my grandmothers house. It really does have an old connotation attached to it that I hadn't realized until Deedy refereed to it as, "grandma's stable." I love Deedy's take on wallpaper, "I want it to be pretty and I want you to like it, but I also want it to add something to your space." I think that's something that should go for everything in home decor. It's amazing how wallpaper is making a comeback into today's modern lifestyle. Anthropoligie is HUGE when it comes to hipster, trendy design, so the fact they're selling it is really cool. It's also really nice that it comes on and off easily so the decor craze isn't limited to those who have purchased homes. I'm not wondering if it's a possibility in a dorm room.

Aubrey Sirtautas said...

I love wallpaper. It’s really no secret, especially designs with modern patterns in retro colors. If I were not renting, I would have wallpaper everywhere, and I would hope that the wallpaper could come down easily so that I could change it every six months. I have been heavily influenced by images on the web, as the article mentions. That being said, I am curious to see if this more widespread desire will have an impact on Scenic Designers who are working on modern pieces over the coming years. Many plays, TV shows, and movies written include interiors of apartments and lofts in city environments, and many of those people would be exactly the individuals who would put up wallpaper.

As an even bigger discussion, since the nature of instagram and snapchat are affecting the ways in which we style our lives, will they morph even further and alter the way we design and create our theatrical spaces? We are already seeing a major shift in how technology plays a direct role in the theatre world, but could this be considered an indirect consequence over time?

William Lowe said...

I find this article to be very, very cool. Wallpaper is always a touchy subject and people – like my parents – swear against it and will never allow it anywhere near them. I think it has its uses and this article addresses them perfectly. With the current progression of art, there are a lot of unique designs available to artists now which focuses a lot more on minimalism than the last time wallpaper was popular. I was concerned about the removable wallpaper, but once the article spoke about the advantages to it, I see the potential in the removability. I feel like there is a lot which can be done with well-placed wallpaper in design, so bringing wall paper back into modern design brings in an incredibly interesting. I am concerned about new designers trying to bring wall paper into designs for older generation clients. If one is known for their use of wall paper, to the younger generation that is not as much as a negative as it is to older clients who have a negative connotation with wallpaper.

Rachel said...

I think the next generation of wallpaper offers people exactly what they are increasingly looking for in their personal spaces: flexibility (read: low commitment,) individuality, and interest. Wallpaper, as the article explains, is a simple, cheap, and now non-permanent way to paste your own taste and design-sense all over the walls. We personalize and curate our Facebook pages, blogs, websites, and increasingly our personal spaces. This isn’t to say personalizing spaces is new, but what *is* new-ish is the focus on uniqueness rather than trend (though the line between the two is always debatable.) It also might signal a potential reaction to the popularity of minimalism and Scan design. Maybe we’re all ready for a little more color and lushness.

Maybe those of us in artistic fields should rejoice. Maybe this signals a trend toward more artistic taste. No more bare blue walls. Lets have riots of color… or a least walls that tell a story or are interesting and different.

Claire Farrokh said...

I am generally not a fan of wallpaper. When I think of wallpaper designs, all I can see are tacky looking rose patterns that cover everyone's grandmother's houses. That being said, I LOVE these wallpapers. These look like something I would re-pin on Pinterest on my "House" board. I still wouldn't wallpaper ALL over my home, just on like one or two walls, providing a background for the television wall or something. I looked at the website of the "Grow House Grow" brand that this article is about, and I love all of the unique designs Deedy has created. I think the secret to wallpaper is the idea of "less is more." When every wall in the house is covered in wallpaper, or every room is a different style of wallpaper, it just looks like a mess. Either have just one very subtle wallpaper throughout the house, or only have a certain number of walls covered. While I love the designs on Grow House Grow's website, there are none of them that I would want throughout my house. I can just find a few that I would want every here and there in certain places.

Cosette Craig said...

I have some of this wallpaper in my apartment and I love it. It is a cheap, easy and removable way to decorate my entire space.These are also the things that make it perfect for scenery applications. The techniques used to print these papers fast and cheap and the easy installation and strike make it possible for scenic designers to integrate period wallpapers into shows without having to hassle with hours of scenic painting or that horrible, old-fashioned wallpaper glue that gets on everything. Of course the patterns are pretty revolutionary as well. You can get a lot of art for your money. The customization of these could also be used for large drops as well.

-Cosette

David Kelley said...

I personally really don't care for wall paper in general as find that it seems tacky and old fashioned. That being said I find it interesting that it is making a come back. It seems that while Deedy would disagree wall paper seems to be the new trendy way to decorate, but like all trends hope it will move quickly in and out of fashion. For instance, I have more often than not seen wall in house last decorated in the 70's and 80's, not more recent houses that generally prefer to use multiple different colors in a room. While I find it personally tacky and I can see the appeal for others as it seems to be a relatively easy way to personalize a space. I do think it is a great idea to make the wall paper easier to remove. This is because, wall paper seems to be the type of decorating that those who rent would now lean more towards using due to the fact that Its cheap and there seems to be a fast growing selection of available patterns that could help make a place your own without having to go through the pain of painting. In all while some of the patterns look interest I don't expect to be purchasing some any time soon.

noah hull said...

Personally I’m really not a fan of wallpaper, its always seemed like more trouble than its worth and its hard for it look as clean and nice as a good paint job. Speaking of painting a room, I take issue with them saying wallpaper is the quickest way to add color and character to a room as I’m fairly certain that I can paint a room faster than wallpapering it. That aside, I get wanting to add character to a room but I question if wallpaper is the right way to do that. To me it seems like if you take advantage of wallpaper to add designs and color and images to your walls you limit what you can put on them later (in terms of things like photographs and other display items) since you have to worry about things clashing with the wallpaper. If you wallpaper a room with something neutral to avoid that problem then you kind of defeat the point of wallpaper in the first place and you might as well just paint the place, and so I don’t really see the point of using wallpaper. That being said I am clearly not their target audience so there’s probably something I’m missing here.

Alex Kaplan said...


I think that it is really cool how wallpaper is making a resurgence in modern design. I remember seeing the use of wallpaper on some HGTV design shows a few months ago and thought it was odd how they were putting up wallpaper to update the home as opposed to taking it down, which I was used to. Wallpaper has always been this tacky and gross thing that had to be taken down. However, after spending more time than I should browsing the websites and companies listed in the article, I have to admit that am a wallpaper fan. I loved seeing all of the creative and fun designs. I think that wallpaper can be a really interesting mode that artists can take advantage of. One thing that I find to be a great invention is the temporary wall paper. That's great for students and artists like us that rent most of the time. I am interested to see where this new trend will go!

Cassidy Pearsall said...

A lot of these wallpapers are really pretty, but I think these are just another fad. I have looked into wallpapering and it really isn't that cheap, and most removable wallpaper often is either very expensive or cheap but peels off on its own almost immediately. These also feel very Antrhopolgie/Free People (makes sense, because one of the companies sells their wallpaper at Anthro) and that also implies ridiculously hugh prices to me.

Wallpaper can be pretty, but it's sudden resurgence has not found its way into my age group, 18-24, because of the permanence of it. With most people living at home or on rental property, I don't think that many young people are out buying wallpaper, I think most of them are dreaming about putting up wallpaper and once they get onto a property where they can, they decide to just buy a gallon of paint at Lowes and move on. I don't see this trend lasting super long or being super popular.

Megan Jones said...

One of my most vivid memories of when I first moved to the United States was tearing down all of the wallpaper from our dining room, living room, and my sister's bedroom. All of the designs were this awful pink and green pattern that look like a flower threw up on the wall. For this reason it's actually really surprising to me that wallpaper is making such a comeback, as the most prominent association I have with it are overly tacky designs. Reinventing in a stylish way to appeal to a totally new audience is really innovative. One of the things that interested me the most in this article was the idea of removable wallpaper. When I was at target picking out decorations for my room I saw some peel off wallpaper, but I could't find a design that I loved. Maybe I'll check out this company now, as they seem to be really invested in offering whatever anyone wants. I can't paint the house that I'm renting, so it's great to see that they've created a way for people to decorate that won't cause damage.

Jamie Phanekham said...

Wow, I didn't know it before, but I am so ready for this. My grandparents used to own a hardware store from the 60's to the 80's. And when the store closed down, much of the things that weren't sold went straight into their basement. So, growing up I would go into the basement fascinated by stuffed deer heads, old bikes, and my favorite thing of all- old wallpaper patterns. I used to have a doll house and would cut the wallpaper patterns into shapes to fit into their house. To me, wallpaper represents kitchiness and hominess that I love. And upon reading this article I looked over at a wall in my room that could really benefit from being an accent wall with wallpaper. With the inclusion of graphic design into the industry I'm sure that so many more options are available. I love the Brooklyn wallpaper, and I think so many local businesses could really bolster their store designs with local flavor on the walls, fun for customers and also hip and trendy. I think I may have to invest in some very cute wallpaper now.

Alex Fasciolo said...

This article is really interesting, not only because of the specific content like the types of wall paper it outlines, and the cool processes these wallpaper companies have for designing these really interesting designs, but also because it highlights the resurgence of a style that had gone out of fashion by the time that many of us students in the SOD were born. I think it’s neat when culture repeats itself in that kind of way, and it happens all the time. There’s a certain technology that becomes obsolete or too cumbersome or the need for it lapses. Specifically with music this has happened with vinyl and the walkman, sometimes you see new year model of car resemble a vintage classic in certain ways, there are resurgences of the types of clothing that were popular in different eras, and now this type of retro centric culture has reached home décor. It’s a little humbling to think that the stuff we grow up idolizing or snubbing might be buried for 30 years until our grandkids think it’s cool enough to revive in some sort of reworked way. But, that all being said, I think that what I take most from this article is to understand that culture moves in cycles and waves, and does not press forward in a straight line

Amanda Courtney said...

Having been enlisted by my parents to help paint many rooms in our house, I must say that wall paper sounds pretty appealing. The ability to achieve patterns and effects that would be too time consuming, labor intensive, or otherwise is really enticing. I would also imagine that methods of application have become better and more streamlined since decades ago, when wallpaper last thrived. The ability of wallpaper to convey personality and humor and values via design is the answer I think to many people's problem with more modern designs. Contemporary home designs can often become cookie cutter, and lack an originality or lived in quality that I think many people value, and wallpaper design can create.

It is also great to see how smaller, less peopled companies are rising up and creating works with distinctive flair. I hope this trend continues (so that I will have many wallpaper options for when I eventually live somewhere I can wallpaper my abode), and that these companies continue to meet with success.

Ali Whyte said...

I think that in today's world of efficiency and instant gratification, wallpaper could easily make a huge comeback. I've seen countless dorm rooms covered in wall decals which are essentially just smaller pieces of wallpaper arranged in various ways, so I definitely agree that there is a market out there for it. I also think it's really amazing how this company has managed to pull in history as well as style from so many decades and turn it into something which, at first, you might nto even notice, but as you get closer it could actually serve as an educational tool. I think that using such a unique medium to convey important historical events could really be a way to bring knowledge that the everyday person might never gain, to places where they go everyday. I think, if this starts cropping up in more common places like coffee shops or similar everyday locations, it will attract the attention of not just one generation, but also those who used wallpaper, albeit in drastically different patterns and designs, in their everyday life as children. I say drastically different patterns and designs, but one of the things that I think is so special about this company is that, while the designs have a distinctly vintage feel, they are clearly modern interpretations done very well.

Jake Poser said...

Traditionally, wallpaper has held a burden of high cost, intense install, lots of upkeep, and eventually, difficult to remove. Though, after reading this article I am more turned on by the idea. First off, who would of thought that there were so many companies that specialize in wallpaper. From this article it seems to be a pretty fast growing market... everything is a job. Wow.
Interior design is very important to me. After a long day, coming home to a place that represents who I am and makes me feel comfortable is important and I feel necessary. And much like my personality and opinions, I want my home to represent that. Therefore, this easy to install and remove wallpaper is awesome. The thousands of different options seem like the perfect way to spice up your living space quickly. I like that these wallpapers are being produced with renters in mind, as well. So often renting can mean that you live in a blank white room because you're too afraid to put holes in the walls and hang picture frames or different trinkets. This wallpaper could make your temporary home exciting and fresh. I'm interested in researching the product further.

Mark Ivachtchenko said...

Personally, I think the world of interior design and fashion design has really moved to a cold place. I love the 50s, 60s, 70s and on (despite the obvious issues at the time) for their style, focus on color, design, and "pop" it gave to the rooms. Today, many interiors have become so bland; really, only certain "hole-in-the-wall" businesses have aesthetic appeal. I think bringing back some fun, vintage wall paper is a step closer to inspiration for more interesting room designs and I'm glad that this is exactly what startup companies are trying to do. I might even take this theory a step further and talk about furniture. Furniture and the designs that come with furniture have always been grand over the centuries. Fine wood carvings, extremely skilled craftsmanship, and a solid design were the backbone for the amazing furniture that came out of eras, mainly the 1900s. During the 70s, furniture was fun, unique, straight up weird. Nowadays, things like the simple chair have become so lame in their designs and only serve a utilitarian purpose. Color and design science needs to be a part of every interior design--colors are design make rooms more interesting, entertaining, and grab peoples attention which keeps them there for longer. We could go so far if we begin to go back to design roots like those from the 70s and combine it with contemporary civil technology and engineering.