Gregory Herringshaw

Make Every Day a Dog Day

I was recently scrolling through images of wallpapers in the collection and was surprised and delighted to see how many of them contained images of dogs. While dogs appear on wallpapers intended for adults as well as children, the imagery on papers for children is far more amusing and the focus of this blog. The early 20th century was the highpoint of children’s wallpaper design and many delightful wallpapers for children were created.
wallpaper, border, dog, Children, William Wegman, Walter Crane

The Enduring Diamond Trellis Wallpaper

I would like to talk about one of the more enduring motifs in wallpaper design, the trellis, or diamond trellis to be more specific. This bamboo design is from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton (completed 1823) which was the residence built for George IV, Prince of Wales. This is about the earliest this motif shows up as an all-over wallpaper pattern. This paper was used in the Duke of York's bedroom, George IVs brother. The Pavilion contained a great variety of wallpaper designs and this pattern was likely used as a border to accompany another paper.
Brighton Pavilion, bamboo, trellis, diamond, harlequin, wallpaper

Another Floral Wallpaper

Floral designs make up the largest grouping of wallpapers in the Museum’s collection by far. Many of the gilded embossed leathers, some of the oldest wallcoverings in the collection dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, contain repeating floral patterns and I would guess that every style and period has representative samples in the collection. While the style in which they have been rendered varies greatly over time, they have never fallen out of fashion. Talk about longevity!
wallpaper, poppy, Ben Morris, Hubbell Pierce, floral

The Writing is on the Wall

Typography has been used on wallpaper since the early days of children’s wallpaper in the 1870s, but wasn’t used as a decorative graphic element until the early 20th century, reaching its peak of popularity during the 1960s. The early children’s papers were educational in nature and as many were inspired by literature, carried captions beneath the illustration to encourage children to read. Typography was first used as a decorative element in the wallpapers of Jean Lurçat on his Dada papers created in the early 1920s.
Jack Denst, mural, typography, graphic design, alphabet

Beauty in Form, and Color

Beauty is an interesting take on a stripe design. The design is composed of thin stripes in brilliant shades of green creating silhouettes of women's faces, alternately facing left then right. The overall effect is a wide stripe or column of green against a white background. Papers of this sort are used to create a very mod interior, frequently pasted on a single focal wall, offset by the remaining walls in white with coordinating furnishings.
Werner Berges, wallpaper, Pop Art, female, figure

Borders that Blend

This piece offers a unique take on border designs. Borders with the bottom edge cut out to follow the printed design began appearing shortly after 1900. This die-cut and embossed example came into fashion around the same time and carried this cut-out idea a step further. This paper is embossed to give it some relief, die-cut to create an irregular bottom edge and expose areas of the background, and airbrushed in a single color to make it more decorative and give it more depth.
border, grapes, cut-out, airbrushed, Green

Memorial to Washington

This is one of the earliest American wallpapers in the Cooper-Hewitt collection. This is a memorial to George Washington and was produced within a year of his death. The design shows an obelisk with the portrait of Washington, an angel above, and trophies of war at the base. Flowering vines form an arch over the obelisk. Designs in this format are referred to as pillar and arch papers, which were designed in England later in the 19th century. This paper is a rather loose interpretation of this style.
George Washington, obelisk, pillar, arch, trophy

Happy Birthday Ettore

Arabia Felix was quite unique for the time in which it was created as it is nearly 10 feet in length and lacks a vertical repeat. The design contains cloud-like shapes totally void of color against a printed background that shades from a darker spotted blue at the top to white at the bottom. The density of the cloud shapes is greatest where the background is darkest, becoming less dense as the background color decreases, disappearing totally where the background ceases to have color towards the bottom of the wallpaper.
wallpaper, Memphis, Ettore Sottsass

Clean and Beautiful: Sanitary Wallpapers

The Oritani frieze is one of a number of wallpapers in the Cooper-Hewitt collection that contain a printed inscription in the selvedge that reads: "Antiseptic Pat'd 8-9-04". This was a patent filed by the William Campbell Wall Paper Company in 1904 that was said to prevent the absorption of germs into the wallpaper’s pigment. This patent notification appeared mostly on children’s wallpapers but the process was also used on papers for more general use.
wallpaper, border, frieze, sanitary, washable, Egli, Campbell, Oritani

A Whole Lot of Pattern Going On

Historically, wallpapers were rarely designed to be used alone, and wallpapers would always have been paired with at least one border. Along with the multiple patterns on the wall it was also fashionable to paper ceilings from about 1850 up into the 1950s. The use of a single wallpaper in a room, or just papering one wall, is a fairly recent notion.
wallpaper, companion, floral, stripe, pattern, Art Deco, French