Wallpaper and pattern trends
As my love for wallpaper continues to grow, I’m always wondering why it was so unpopular in and around the 90’s. From my perspective it seemed to start becoming unpopular in the mid-eighties. The trend only really started to turn upward in the mid 2000’s.
This kind of cycle is common with many things. Moustaches is another one that holds interest for me. I think it might be on its way back, as soon as the Movember charity initiative stops convincing everyone that moustaches are so cool that you can only have them in one month of the year.
Wallpaper and moustaches are two things that I thought were no-nos growing up. Now I really like them. But my question about wallpaper is a difficult one because there were so many really good patterns around during the time when it was so unpopular.
I think that the trend has something to do with symmetry. The best pattern art of that time was used in ways very different from how wallpaper is used. Pieces of pattern were used as parts of other design to create a contrast in texture. Or the pattern did not have a strict repeat. Pattern was asymmetric or was used in an asymmetrical way. And pattern was used mostly for graphic design and not in décor. Anyone who used pattern in décor, like Karim Rashid, was considered a bit out there and a too experimental for the mainstream.
One of the most intriguing situations about pattern in the 80’s is the life’s work of the New York artist Keith Haring. His murals are so representative of the design of the time. He repeated elements in his design but some would not consider his work as pattern. And you wouldn’t really be able to create wallpaper repeats from his art. Luckily for his legacy, his work is now considered art, while wallpaper often battles (like his supporters did) to have that label applied.
But we also have to look at the fact that many of the wallpaper patterns prior to the decline in popularity were and can still be considered pretty awful. The intensity and concentration of pattern seemed to reach a critical mass in the early 80’s. Did people eventually just overdo it until they just had to run away or stop?
Trends are influenced by many things. Love for things past can infiltrate trends, but really valuing what past design teaches us, is something I treasure. Seeing and understanding how people of a certain time feel about design and design trends is so important. And finding a way to bring something new to a thing that still carries a few negative connotations is truly an art.
Would you consider any of the patterns here trend setting?
Some small projects from 2016 See more of the Pylons and Animals pattern See more of the Heraldic Mielie pattern See more of the Cape Gables...read more
These three patterns were done with custom colours in conjunction with the inderior designer Sam Fuchs for an office. Aloes wallpaper with yellow background A small piece of this was done in a meeting room of this office in Cape Town. See more of this pattern here. Cape Gables wallpaper with yellow background The corporate yellow was again used with this wallpaper in one of the managers offices. See more of this pattern here. Cow and Windmill wallpaper This one was done in another managers office. See more cow and windmill wallpaper...read more
These chairs are so cute. Imagine sitting on these while munching on some oriental delicacies. The red Beetle & Lighthouse pattern fabric is on a light cream base cloth and the red Hadeda pattern fabric is on white. And the chairs...read more
Two Quagga wallpapers were used in a lovely bed a breakfast in Clovelly in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. Being close to a large penguin colony in Simon’s Town, our Fat Penguin pattern was used. And also adding some more local charm, the Enamel pattern was used in another of the bedrooms. Enjoy it up close by booking your stay on...read more
A pattern celebrating traditional design and bringing something new and fresh. We call the pattern Heraldic mielie because it looks so traditional. Yet it is fun, bringing in the South African word for corn – mielie, and a huge part of SA life. Our wallpaper is custom printed in panels and not rolls. Sold by the square metre and printed to client wall dimensions. The panels will match the height of your walls, so waste is minimised. The price varies according to how much you order. Orders above 20 square metres are R340 per square...read more
This lusciously red hibiscus wallpaper transformed a fashion showroom in Cape Town. It is a smooth vinyl print. The repeat is much larger than out usual designs and the effect is more mural than wallpaper. The space created is quite thrilling. See more of this...read more
Aloe pattern wallpaper in an old Victorian house in England This wall brings Africa to England in this lovely home. See more of this...read more
A Cape Gables pattern wallpaper bringing some old Cape style to a modern kitchen Our popular blue version of this pattern brings a wonderful feeling to wall surfaces above counter tops in this modern kitchen. See more of this pattern...read more
Sublime symmetry. This round floral pattern can be used from any direction. So it’s very adaptable. As with all our patterns, choose from colours below or ask about customising for your own bespoke colours and size. Our wallpaper is custom printed in panels and not rolls. Sold by the square metre and printed to client wall dimensions. The panels will match the height of your walls, so waste is minimised. The price varies according to how much you order. Orders above 20 square metres are R340 per square metre. Don’t forget to ask...read more
The iconic african plant with magical properties. Small karoo town charm with heaps of class. This pattern is a simple repeat of a flowering Aloe ferox. It’s another one of those icons of the Cape and other great South African areas. Here’s version with a yellow background. Click here to see an application of this in a...read more