Whilst Tony is still in Venice, last night I attended the launch at Radfords of the UK’s Cole & Son’s gorgeous new wallpaper range Geometric II. My favourite was the completely over-the-top Miami which was described as “Escher on holidays”. Jess Burnett, Marketing Manager at Cole & Son took us through the design process behind each of the papers and showed us the original drawings and sketches done on holidays in Miami which were later developed up into the designs that were really breath-taking.
Jess also showed us some of the bespoke wallpapers that Cole & Son produce for heritage buildings and clients with deep pockets! These are often produced using some of the library of 3000 antique wooden blocks that Cole & Son store in their cellar under their studio (no ordinary cellar I hasten to add as it is very carefully climate and pest controlled0. One of their current projects is for the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) which is re-papering one room last done 70 years ago so the product recoups its initial investment well and truly. This particular paper needs 12 colours so the paper is hand-blocked 12 times – it takes about 3 months to produce 10m of wallpaper. Jess says it is so precious that she isn’t allowed any for marketing purposes unless it is a reject roll which doesn’t meet their incredibly high standards.
The original blocks date back to 1839 and were used by the architect Augustus Pugin. Jess also told us about a client who found a fragment of wallpaper behind a wardrobe in an old house which she had just purchased. Hoping to return the house to its former glory she contacted Cole & Son who uncovered the original order from 50 years ago for the wallpaper. So they were able to go to their archive and source the design. It was a design that used a background stripe made with a badger bristle brush. And, miracle of miracles, they still had the original badger brush. The only problem was that they no longer had any craftsmen who knew how to use the brush so they amalgamated modern and heritage printing techniques to produce just the paper the client ordered.
You can find out more about Cole & Son here.