Author: Gregory Herringshaw

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All Wired Up
I was drawn to this design for its use of common, mundane materials to create a contemporary rendering of a traditional pattern. As a kid, these insulated wires held a special fascination for me. Maybe it was the bright colors of the insulation or the fact that when bent it could hold a pose, but...
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Bad for your Garden, Good for your Walls
When I first saw this wallpaper I had to stop and do a double-take. It is very unusual for an insect to take prominence on a wallpaper design, let along be the only motif. The design consists of a rose chafer beetle, greatly magnified and repeated in diagonal rows; think polka dots with six legs....
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To Your Health
An interesting trend appearing on wallpapers in the 1950s are designs with groups of like objects arranged as if on display. These patterns all seem to contain objects deemed collectible as they include buttons, luggage stickers, or liquor labels, all neatly lined up. And while not a collectible there are also similar designs with produce....
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Trellis by William Morris
William Morris wallpapers are quite extraordinary on several counts. Morris designs are all quite striking, even the patterns printed in a single color. Morris started designing wallpapers in the 1860s and most of these patterns are still being produced today. That says a lot about the appeal of his designs. Cooper Hewitt collection contains most,...
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Hanging Floral Baskets You Don’t Need to Water
I find these hanging baskets rather a novel idea in home decoration. These are used in place of the wide friezes that became popular in the very late years of the nineteenth century. Wide friezes were printed on the paper in a horizontal fashion, which makes perfect sense as that is how they were hung....
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Murals Not to be Missed
One of the benefits of the museum’s ongoing digitization is that I get to revisit many collection objects I haven’t seen for a while, without ever leaving my desk. Case in point is this sample book of wallpaper photo murals. Produced in 1976 the book contains twenty different designs that include a variety of exotic...
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Steinberg’s Opera
One of several wallpaper designs by Saul Steinberg, this paper shows elevations of the Palais Garnier in Paris. Illustrated in signature Steinberg style, the design is fun and whimsical while drawing attention to some of the building’s notable architectural components. The two different elevations are drawn as caricatures which highlight the grandiosity and opulence of...
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Pleating the Walls
Here is an interesting version of a drapery wallpaper design. Wallpapers imitating draperies have been a small but elegant genre since the time of Napolean, when walls draped in fabric were popularized by the design and decorating team of Percier and Fontaine, largely credited with creating the Empire style. Many of the finer papers were...
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The Writing is on the Wall
It is easy to see why Nitty Gritty would be such a hit with the “younger generation.” It’s fun, it’s different, something not seen before in wallpaper designs. Nitty Gritty is formatted in a graffiti-style, with all the words and slogans written as they might appear in phone booths or lockers. Sayings like Sock it...