Thursday last week saw Marica and I out and about. Our first stop was the launch of the latest range of fabrics and wallpapers from Harlequin hosted by James Russell Agencies at the Palms.
Stephen Black of Black Fabrics, the South African agent for Harlequin, presented the range called “Kallianthi“ by English designer, Clarissa Hulse. She, like Trish Guild has carved out her own style and handwriting. In fact, as such she shares a common denominator with Harlequin, in that they are not followers of another’s style, but rather forge their own path to carve out an authentic niche in the fabric markets.
The colours and the patterns are bold and extravagant in their design, perfect for complimentary accessories – a large contributing factor to the success of the range.
The inspiration was drawn from our natural environment embracing bamboo, grass, twigs, leaves etc. Clarrisa has taken these elements and translated them into beautiful surface designs, maintaining an authentic mix of harmony in colour and pattern.
The colour palette is spot on in terms of the forecasted trends for 2012 – warm honey tones, blues, and soft taupe tones, berry colours, with paprika orange and blend of pinks, choc browns, Dijon yellow, cinnamon, vermillion etc.
The bonus is the fact, that all of these fabrics are complimented by wallpapers of the same patterns. Yes – as an imported range it is in the higher price point, but these fabrics are ideal to purchase small amounts for soft furnishing accessories such as scatter cushion covers.
Stephen and James also touched on Harlequin’s previous range, Delphine, released earlier this year. This is an archival collection and has its origins in the years just coming out of the Great Depression, before WW2. (30s and very deco-esque). Pretty similar to our current economic climate, only they were moving into a more optimistic space then.
Once again nature inspired (how history repeats itself – so we are not original in looking to nature – been down in all of time in memoriam)
Pattern is bold and full of details such as embroidery and jacquard designs. Colours striking and despite the fact that this range has its roots in history, there is the element of ‘contemporary trendiness’.
Black Fabrics & James Russell Agencies have a range of local fabrics that one can use to co-ordinate with these imports. Kenamark Range of Sheers and Monet Linen (lovely heavyweight linen fabrics, with high rub count).
Check out Black Fabrics’ website: here and James Russell Agencies’: here
“After my Décor Diva post on the expiration date of wallpaper, James Russell of James Russell Agencies wrote me an e-mail expressing his views on the matter. His comments were so enlightening that we just had to share his thoughts with you. I have worked with James for many years on a great deal of projects during which I was constantly reminded of his wealth of knowledge. Let it be said then, that when this man speaks, sit up and listen! So, ladies and gents, please welcome our first guest blogger, Mr James Russell.” – Love Rose
By James Russell
From the early days of the Middle Ages the very wealthy hung tapestries on their walls for decoration as well as for insulation and warmth. Tapestries were very expensive and therefore could only be afforded by the wealthiest. Not so ‘well off’ members of the elite, prevented from buying tapestries due to price or wars, turned to wallpapers as a form of décor. Early wallpapers were printed or painted in panels and one of the earliest know wallpapers was English and dates back to 1509. Some used fabrics to clad their walls for décor and insulation, but this too was expensive. Early tints and paints were not very colourfast and had to be re-coloured making hand painted murals and tromp l’oeil expensive compared to printed wallpapers which could be replicated a number of times. Some of the earliest fabrics used were woven silks, Toile de Jouy and ‘Print Room’ designs. These, along with early tapestry designs, formed the basic wallpaper designs. As printing techniques and paper manufacture developed and evolved, wallpapers became more affordable to the middle classes, and eventually in the 1900’s to the working classes where it was a major décor item until the 1980’s loosing favour to Faux painting.
The re-birth of the ‘wallpaper trend’ initially focussed on something called the “feature wall” in a room. Traditionally most rooms used to have a “focal point” which was, more often than not, a fireplace around which people would gather to keep warm. This “focal point” was generally enhanced with decorative features such as a fire surround, a mantle piece topped with decorative items, and above the mantle a piece an important artwork, family portrait or decorative mirror.
With the advent of televisions and later home entertainment systems, radiators for central heating and later under-floor heating, and the architectural development of “open plan”, the traditional “focal point” in a room became obsolete. Modern architecture would try where possible to take advantage of such things as “great views” by putting in large windows, great in the daytime but at night often enclosed by curtains, thus lessening the effect.
Using decorative wallpapers to create a “feature wall” can be a great décor solution to an otherwise “featureless” room. Using vertical stripes can enhance the apparent visual height of a room, horizontal stripes give a room energy, and “pictorial” wallpapers can create ‘vistas or views’ in rooms lacking well appointed windows. “Feature walls” become works of art in and of themselves. But why stop at a feature wall? By using the modern wallpapers, featureless passages, uninteresting 3rd bedrooms or pokey guest loos can all be transformed.
The minimalist trend decors of the last decade or so are now crying out to be “updated”. The many new advances in wallpaper technology, such as real or faux raffia finishes, can add great textures to rooms, whilst developments in metallic or glass beaded finishes can enhance the lighting effects within a space.
Not everyone is able to create an “outdoor lounge” on patios or terraces leading onto gardens, but by using floral or nature/botanical wallpapers, one can bring the garden indoors. So whether your desire is to live in a forest, a desert, an urban city-scape, or even in outer space, there’s a wallpaper to suite your needs. From wallpapers with a “hand painted” look to photo-real papers on a huge scale, wallpapers allow one to create features out of what were “just walls”.
So when you ask are wallpapers a “fad trend” or a trend that’s here to stay for a while, my intuition tells me that not only are they here to stay, but with the developments in the various technologies being applied to the manufacture of wallpapers, we are going to see even greater “works of art” to adorn the walls of our living and working spaces.
James Russell Agencies is the agent for Design Team Fabrics & Wallpapers in Cape Town, check out James’ website: here.