The German wallpaper company Rasch, founded in 1897, produced the original Bauhaus wallpapers in 1929. For their 1992 Zeitwande collection, Rasch commissioned eleven different designs from nine internationally-recognized designers, including Memphis Group designers Ettore Sottsass, Nathalie du Pasquier, and Alessandro Mendini, and Czech architect and designer, Bořek Šipek.

Šipek contributed Zed (Czech for wall) to Rasch’s collection. The wallpaper, a white relief vinyl with the texture of rough plaster, was dotted with blown glass beads that were available in a variety of colors. Small indentations on the surface of the vinyl, made using a proprietary hot embossing technique, indicated where the beads were to be glued after installation. A tube of super glue was included with the purchase of the wallcovering. While appliqués have been used on wallpapers back to at least the 1850s, I believe this is the first application of blown glass beads on a wallcovering. The beads not only produce greater surface relief and color contrast, but they also create dramatic shadows that change with the light source.

Šipek was introduced to glass arts at a young age by his stepfather, an established Czech glass artisan. Šipek was not interested, however, in working with only one material and became known for his use of contrasting materials—frequently in unexpected combinations. Šipek studied furniture design, architecture, and philosophy at schools in Prague and Germany and received a Doctorate in Architecture from the Technical University of Delft in 1979. He opened his own architecture and design studio in Amsterdam in 1983. Šipek’s head office is now located in the Czech Republic.

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