Today, let’s talk books. Or rather, a trompe l’oeil wallpaper printed to appear like a well-stocked bookcase in someone’s library. This is one of the livelier, not to mention convincing, bookcase wallpapers I have seen. And it’s no wonder, it was created by the brilliant decorator, muralist and trompe l’oeil painter Richard Lowell Neas. Many wallpapers are designed to express a point of view, and this paper conveys Neas’ Francophile nature, and I’m assuming a love of travel and gardens. Neas has picked up on details common to many libraries, from the slightly torn book jackets, to the cut paper and exquisite ribbon page markers, to books laid on their sides because they fit. Some of the book titles include Les Chateaux Royaux, Paris, Normandy, and Le Style Rustic, not to mention Seaside Gardens and a novel by Dickens.
Neas got his creative start designing windows for a department store in his native Missouri. He later moved on to Bonwit Teller in New York City, and became known for his painted trompe l’oeil views of gardens and architectural ornament.
This paper can be viewed in the Cooper Hewitt’s Immersion Room, an interactive gallery where visitors can project wallpaper designs from the museum’s permanent collection as well as design their own. When seen in repeat Bibliothèque makes quite a convincing display and makes one feel as if they have suddenly stumbled upon a library. This wallpaper for Brunschwig ties together a variety of different aspects of Neas’ life and career: his passion of and talent for creating trompe l’oeil designs as well as his love of France and English Gardens.
And just a final note in memory of the donors Hank and Gladys Edelman, who were friends of the Wallcoverings Department at Cooper Hewitt. Hank was a volunteer in the department for years, and he and Gladys donated numerous wallpapers by Ilonka Karasz and other designers. I wish they could experience their donation come alive in the Immersion Room.