A combination of fine draughtsmanship, highly detailed imagery and a clever use of scale and colour gives Kit Miles’ wallpapers and textiles a sensory narrative that draws viewers into a surreal world where the botanical and the geometric come together. Those seeking a customised look can ask Miles to adapt his imaginative designs to suit their interiors; most projects involve rescaling a design or specifying different colours. Miles has reworked his Birds in Chains design using a colour gradient in which deep teal morphs into mint, accented by yellows and dusty pinks, and recoloured his Ecclesiastical Botanica in shades of magenta – even details like the birds’ beaks, claws and feathers – to pick up on red tones in specific upholstery. For a long hallway at London private members’ club The Groucho, Miles rescaled and recoloured his geometric Fretwork design using a deep-navy paper. An additional fee of 15 per cent for custom colouration and rescaling apply to the collection’s average prices of £295-£345 for a standard 10m roll of wallpaper (£140-£160 per m for super-wide).
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Technology is influencing new directions in wallpaper design – just look to boutique atelier Meystyle, which has developed a way of incorporating LED lights into its designs – one, a showstopper when it appeared at Decorex, has a huge floral chandelier-like LED-infused image (£382 for a 300cm x 63cm panel). The lights, used alongside Swarovski crystals, are integrated into the fabric of the paper, so it can be used just like any other wall covering, though it does need an accessible power supply. Company founders Ekaterina and Maria Yaschuk have a love of the dramatic. “Usually people come to us because they want to spice up an alcove or provide some interest along a corridor,” says Ekaterina. “For one customer, we created LED-infused paper for the kitchen splashback.” They are also devising ways to incorporate metallic mesh and silk into their designs. While Meystyle mostly makes papers to special order, several LED models can be bought off the shelf, with some papers being easily trimmed to fit specific spaces.
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From a trompe-l’oeil marble ballroom in the south of France to scenic canvas “wallpaper” for the stately Ballyfin hotel in Ireland, no two projects for Sussex-based decorative artist Lucinda Oakes are ever the same – but all are hand-painted. “I’m inspired by 18th-century art – particularly floral work,” says Oakes, whose father was head designer at Colefax and Fowler for 30 years, “and paintings and marbling in Italian churches and villas, which are rustic yet theatrical.” These influences might find their way on to a detailed whole-room mural (£10,000-£80,000) applied directly to the walls in distemper paint, creating a beautiful, chalky finish, or exquisite wallpapers (£10,000-£80,000 per room) featuring lush chinoiserie landscapes in water-based emulsion. Working for private clients as well as for renowned interior designers such as William Yeoward, Lucinda Oakes always ends up creating an exuberant, lovingly crafted work of art – with a touch of magical realism.
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Brooklyn-based firm Callidus Guild has collaborated with the likes of Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton and Edition hotels in London. The artisan collective functions much like a traditional Florentine guild – sculptors, fresco artists, muralists and jewellers all work together on unique panels and wallpapers ($275-$375 per yard for the standard collection), mixing ancient artisanal techniques with contemporary aesthetics. Subtle designs are inspired by sacred geometry, the Meiji arts of Japan, art deco patterns or African art, and each is handcrafted using between nine and 25 layers of plaster, paint and applied materials. Three coats of marble-dust plaster are sometimes used, and intricate inlays of mother-of-pearl, malachite, agate and onyx are all possible. Past commissions have included stone-studded walls and jute “paper” depicting Italian landscapes.
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The USP of Sterling Studios is, according to co-owner Fiona Sutcliffe, decoration. “A lot of people are doing decorative surfaces right now,” says the specialist restorer-turned-applied arts expert. “But by decoration I mean hand-painting, figurative images, flora and fauna – not just textural finishes. Ours is artistic work. We’re a bit old-fashioned really.” The designs and installations created by Sutcliffe, her husband François Lavenir and their 25-strong team in their north London studio, however, look anything but old-fashioned. Hand-finished artisanal decoration can be applied to leather, canvas, resin, metal and, their speciality, glass – including gilded verre églomisé and hand-oxidised antique mirror finishes that can span whole walls and even entire rooms. Sterling Studios’ work has appeared in Selfridges (Rousseau-esque back-painted glass walls), Graff stores and The London Edition lobby bar (imposing distressed mirrored glass panels). A current bespoke project in London involves cast, textured and antique mirror-glass walling; and a set of large mirrored-glass panels painted with landscape images was shipped to Asia’s first premium cruise liner. Some clients give Sutcliffe carte blanche; others are specific and come to them to create a fully realised vision. “They know we can do anything, including the very technical,”says Sutcliffe. “It’s fun to work with incredibly creative people.”
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