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Snapshots of the American Teenager
Can anyone today imagine a time when there was no such thing as the “teenager”? Surprisingly, it wasn’t that long ago that the “teenage years” were not considered a distinct stage of life. The words “teenage” and “teenager” were not invented until the 1920s, and it was only around this time that people noticed that...
A Wall of Calligraphy
In this beautiful sidewall, layers of white, dark brown, and tan lines swirl into compositions reminiscent of chopped-up calligraphy. No words seem to be spelled out, and stylistically the calligraphy hovers between Arabic and Gothic scripts. The layering of the “words” in the paper causes us to see them primarily as ornamental forms, leading us...
A New Look for Leathered Walls
Imitation leather papers meticulously reproduce the grain, patterns, and coloring of antique leathers. While these wallpapers were expensive to produce due to all the handwork necessary to capture the embossed leathers, they were much less costly, and quicker to produce, than actual leathers. This sample was produced by M. H. Birge & Sons around 1910,...
Objets de luxe
Many of the most iconic products of the 1920s—perfume bottles, vanities, and jewelry—are feminine objects like those seen in this sidewall, now on view in The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s.
Classical Art Deco
This sidewall, now on view in The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, is an excellent example of historicist tendencies in Art Deco design.
What Would William Morris Think?
Whatever would William Morris think? How would he feel seeing how this clever sidewall takes his beloved wallpaper design (the first he ever created) and stylizes it into a series of dots? Whether it brings to mind the Ben Day dots used in comic books or an LED display, the result seems to have been...
And the Crown goes to Crane
Walter Crane was one of the most successful of late Victorian designers, and this must be one of his most beautiful patterns for wallpaper. It is a multi-layered design featuring several fantastical motifs such as winged sphinxes, winged lions, peacocks, the biblical Tree of Knowledge with the serpent wrapped around it, and medieval standards topped...
Travel in Style Without Clashing
Innovations in transportation and mobility were to become a common theme in wallpaper design. Similar images frequently appeared on bandboxes and hat boxes starting in the 1830’s. A sign of mobility themselves, these boxes were used for the safe transport and storage of men’s removable collars and hats. Early designs include historic hot air balloon...
The Age of Gold
Rasch and Company is a West German wallpaper manufacturer known for producing papers designed by celebrated fine artists and designers. In 1929 they created a line of papers designed by the Bauhaus called simply “Bauhaus wallpapers.” Incredibly successful, the line never fully went out of print. In 1950, Rasch developed its Kunstler Tapeten “artists’ wallpaper”...