A leading figure in interior design for over two decades, Michael S. Smith has earned a reputation as a master of transitional design – merging the classicism of old Europe with the America’s ever evolving modernism. A longstanding client of de Gournay’s hand painted wallpapers, with an innate understanding of the varied medium, a new series of designs of his own creation celebrates themes and patterns of the natural world in an engaging range of decorative styles.
To illustrate the diverse nature of the designs, de Gournay invited a select but disparate group of aesthetes, makers and dealers to each interpret one of the designs. Individuals from across the creative industries bringing the wallpapers to life in the context of their distinct endeavours, and with the addition of their own varied works and collections – showcasing the wallpapers and their unique oeuvres – as captured by renowned photographer Miguel Flores Vianna.
Botanical Studies wallpaper, curated by antiques dealer Edward Hurst
Composed of large scale botanical illustrations, hand painted onto individual segments of India Tea Paper, Botanical Studies references the 17th Century home of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who papered walls of his home with studies by the artist Georg Dionyius Ehret. Striking renditions of Passiflora (Passion Flowers), Chestnut, Heliotrope, Bauhinia (Orchid Tree), Grapevine, Gardenias, Sesbania Grandiflora (Hummingbird Tree) and Indian Pellet Shrub (Pavetta Indica) evoke simultaneously the quiet beauty of Botany’s golden age.
Installed within the bedroom of a private house in Dorset, an antique four poster bed from Sweden, with a canopy richly embroidered by Queen Charlotte herself, anchors the scene alongside antiques from Edwards wider collection and own home – Venetian mirrored sconces, a splendid Chinese cabinet atop intricately carved wooden legs and decorative porcelain sourced from private clients.
Uki Hana wallpaper, curated by furniture designer Kusheda Mensah
A majestic composition of flowering Chrysanthemum inspired by artwork of Japan’s Edo period – a pinnacle of the nation’s creative expression – where the naturalistic depiction of flowers, animals and landscapes upon plain metallic grounds elevated the day to day to the wondrous. Painted by hand onto a gilded background with an ombré finish, rising from a rich Copper to a gleaming Silver, the blooming White florals appear suspended as though in mid-air.
As a backdrop to furniture by Kusheda Mensah, a balance is struck between the rounded shapes that typify her work – oversized models with the semblance of organic forms – and the abstract nature of the floating flowers, mirrored in the setting by a freestanding floral arrangement by Simone Gooch of Fjura and all atop the waving patterned lines of a hand knotted rug by The Rug Company inspired by molten glass.
Braganza wallpaper, curated by design dealer Jermaine Gallacher
Inspired by original tiled murals from the Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira in Lisbon, Braganza is a garden scene similar to de Gournay’s well known Chinoiseries, but depicts florid, bird filled trees hand painted as though upon ceramic tiles – with a grid effect and a glazed finish in the manner of porcelain. Within his sprawling London showroom, amidst an eclectic mix of vintage design and pieces of his own creation, Jermaine Gallacher’s avant-garde interpretation stages the design off the wall. Panels are suspended in a series of imaginatively styled set pieces, populated with Zigzag candlesticks, consoles and side tables from his own Prototype collection, vessels in glass and clay by artist Miranda Keyes and sculptural works by Viola Lanari.
Nordic Garden wallpaper, curated by the founder of Cutter Brooks, Amanda Brooks
A sparse and pretty scene inspired by the original wallpapers of Svindersvik – a Rococo era mansion located outside of Stockholm containing a muted Chinoiserie of a distinctly Scandinavian character. Transposed to Stow on the Wold, the heart of the English countryside, its fresh charm finds a natural home within a satellite premises of the Cutter Brooks emporium, filled with the elevated homeware stocked by Brooks: oak leaf candle sconces crafted in burnished brass by Jess Wheeler, hand sculpted porcelain flowers by Vladimir Kanevsky and Tensira textiles, alongside artwork by Brook’s husband Christopher and her own Delftware.
Nordic Garden is hand painted in evergreen colours onto a softly-mottled cream-coloured India tea paper (a handmade rice paper that is jointed in a pattern of overlapped blocks) with wonderful spontaneously-applied washes of translucent sky blue pigment that streak through the background.
Marble wallpaper, curated by gallerists Ting-Ying Gallery (Peter Ting, pictured)
Inspired by the myriad specimens, colours and patterns of natural stone, the Marble design evokes the historic grandeur of the ancient world and the architectural feats of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia mosque and the Pantheon in Rome, with the strata of intricately veined stone rendered by hand in Boiserie sections – setting the irregularities of the natural world within the rigid forms of cut stone. Installed within the apartment of Ting-Ying founder Peter and his partner, curator Brian Kennedy, the Marble backdrop elevates their personal collection of artworks and porcelain – with works by ceramic artists such as Carol McNicoll, Alice Walton, Chang Chingyuan and Emma Witter filling the scene.