Arguably the most iconic pattern to come out of the English sister-design team Collier Campbell, Cote d’Azur has become popular the world over. Originally intended for textiles, the pattern won the Duke of Edinburgh’s Design Prize in 1984, making the sisters the first women to achieve the distinction. This incarnation is a slightly different colorway than the original, and was screen printed on paper in 1992 by Imperial Wallcoverings, Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio. Stubby blue palm trees and the black profiles of birds in flight float atop a colorful background of abstract, interlocking bungalows. The piece reads like a surrealist view of its namesake Mediterranean coast.
Sarah Campbell has described the print as “hardworking,” meaning that Cote d’Azur has been loved for many years in the homes of many consumers. Perhaps this lasting success can be attributed to the sisters’ staunch commitment to designs that retain the hand-painted quality of the original piece throughout the process of mass production. The late Susan Collier once said “I was politically motivated to produce beautiful cloth for the mass market.” A quick glance at Imperial’s commanding and jovial Cote d’Azur sidewall proves that she and her sister have succeeded in their goals.
See this work on view beginning December 12 in the Immersion Room, an opening exhibition that features selected wallcoverings projected onto the walls at full scale and an interactive design table where visitors can create their own.
Anna Rasche is a student in the History of Decorative Arts & Design graduate Program at the Cooper Hewitt, and is a Master’s Fellow in the Wallcoverings Department.