Arabian Nights is one mural from a collection of five produced in 1948. The mural is divided into three distinct views, the two ends showing building exteriors while the center view looks through a colonnade into a courtyard. Through this view one can see all manner of decorative fences, roof tops, a cupola, even a pair of nesting birds. The two end views show elaborate tile work and horseshoe-arched windows, both common features in Islamic architecture. This mural was printed on a single horizontal panel measuring 37 x 95 inches and could be installed in a variety of ways: it could be used by itself, it could be hung with multiple panels end to end, or it could be installed in brick fashion to fill an entire wall.

Ilonka Karasz began designing wallpapers in the 1930s but her wallpaper career didn’t take off until the postwar period when she designed exclusively for Katzenbach & Warren. She believed walls should be rendered as a flat surface, and her designs present an unusual, surreal perspective not true to nature. Her designs were printed using a variety of media, including machine printing and the new Mezzotone process, a blueprint method introduced by Katzenbach & Warren. Mezzotone prints were available in a variety of ink and paper colors, including sepia, burgundy, blue, and yellow. All of Karasz’s designs printed in the Mezzotone process were hand drawn to scale in graphite and ink on linen. Karasz preferred this printing technique because it picked up the delicate line quality and textural aspect of her drawings.
 

Karasz immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1913, and became one of very few women working in the design field. She was also the first woman admitted to the Royal School of Arts and Crafts in Budapest. While she worked with a variety of media including wallpaper, silver, textiles, and furniture, Karasz was probably best known for her New Yorker magazine cover illustrations, designing her first cover in 1925 and creating a total of 186.

Leave a Reply