This is a modernist wallpaper from Germany, designed in the 1920s. It is printed in a more or less monochrome color palette which gives it a rather textural look. I was drawn to this design by the extravagant and very fluid design of the flowers which at first glance I thought were dancers in elaborate costumes. I was also intrigued by the wallpaper’s title, which is Phyllis. Who is Phyllis?

In mythology, Phyllis was a woman who killed herself out of love and was then transformed into an almond tree. Phyllis is also the Greek word for foliage.

Breuhaus was a well-known German architect, interior designer, and designer. His repertoire as a designer included hand-printed textiles, furniture, lamps, silverware, and wallpaper. The museum collection does contain a couple pieces of flatware designed by Breuhaus. Architecturally speaking, he was known for his work in the luxury market, designing homes and country homes for Germany’s elite. He is also known for designing interiors on the S.S. Bremen luxury liner which made its maiden voyage to New York City in 1929. The Bremen and her sister ship Europa were considered the most modern liners in the world.

Breuhaus was also the principle architect and designer for the passenger spaces on the zeppelin Hindenburg which launched in 1936. The cabins and lounges were designed in a modern, somewhat minimal style. The dining room contained paintings on silk wallpaper, not painted by Breuhaus, while the Breuhaus furniture was constructed of lightweight tubular aluminum.

Greg Herringshaw is the Assistant curator for Wallcoverings.

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