In case these gray winter skies are getting you down, here is a perky wallpaper to brighten the mood. Aptly titled “Life Savers,” this wallcovering enlivened the interiors market sometime in the early 1970s. The design consists of circles, or life savers if you will, tightly aligned in polka dot fashion. The front of each circle is printed in an intense yellow, with slightly lighter yellow sides, which visually creates relief.
A design such as this would definitely be used to create the focal wall where it would quickly gather the attention of all who enter the room. As this is printed on a glossy white vinyl, presumably the remaining walls would be painted in a gloss or semi-gloss white. Can’t you just picture this paper in a white room just brimming with color and texture, perhaps with a wild shag rug and a selection of beanbag or Panton chairs?
While the “Life Savers” title suggests inspiration from the little round candy invented in 1912, it does bear some similarity to an auto tire. Perhaps it’s just the large scale. The candy was, in turn, inspired by the life preserver.
Alan Buchsbaum was an architect and designer, whose career took him through the supergraphics look of the 1960s (he is said to be one of the originators of this style), to the high-tech aesthetic of the 1970s, and the loft look popular during the 1980s. Cooper Hewitt contains three other wallpaper designs and two architectural drawings by Buchsbaum.
Greg Herringshaw is the Assistant Curator for Wallcoverings.