This week’s entries are dedicated to objects featured in the exhibition Thom Browne Selects, currently on view at Cooper Hewitt through October 23, 2016.
Rombico is a recent acquisition to the museum’s permanent collection. I had begun a search for hologram wallpapers and after a few internet searches came across this paper by Osborne & Little. I stopped by the showroom to get a firsthand look and I have to say, I was mesmerized.
The pattern is formatted in a diamond-trellis design, a traditional wallpaper pattern that’s been popular for a couple hundred years. But unlike the printed trellis pattern, which projects an architectural or garden aesthetic, Rombico is fun yet sophisticated. And while similar to the highly reflective Mylar foil wallcoverings that offer a straight reflection, Rombico reflects more in the manner of a convex mirror casting hundreds of reflections across the paper’s surface.
Reflective wallcoverings have a long history, from applied gold leaf and printed metallic pigments in the eighteenth century, to stamped foil designs in the mid-nineteenth century, to aluminum and Mylar foils in the twentieth century. Developments in lighting and materials, as well as printing techniques, have led to the evolution of this class of wallcoverings.
Osborne & Little is a British manufacturer and retailer of upmarket wallpaper and fabrics with showrooms worldwide. It was established in 1968 by Sir Peter Osborne and his brother-in-law, Antony Little, in the King’s Road, Chelsea, section of London.
I came across this wallcovering at the exact time the museum began working with fashion designer Thom Browne to curate an exhibition. Browne was interested in mirrored surfaces for his installation and when he was shown a sample of this holographic foil wallcovering, it was a big hit.
Gregory Herringshaw is head of the Wallcoverings Department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.