Harriet Stallibrass in Interior Design Trends — 02.01.2019
From the structural patterned stripe to a whole expressive world on your walls, exotic murals are the wallpaper designs that are hot off the rollers this year.
Wallpaper has come a long way since its genesis in 200BC ancient China when rice paper was decoratively glued to the walls. From being purposed to embellish the internal panels of wardrobes in 13th century Europe, to becoming a cultural phenomenon thanks to William Morris in Victorian England and to unconventionally being used during the Russian Revolution by famished civilians who would chew the glue from its reverse as a last resort for nutritional sustenance. Today it goes through another evolutionary surge.
Where feature walls freed eccentric, House of Hackney-esq designs from the confines of the downstairs loo, 2019 takes jaw-dropping wallpaper one step further. On the interiors scene the people of today are no longer just asking for pattern but full digital print mural scenes. That's right, a full unfolding story which plays a constant visual performance in your living room, so you can embody Diana amongst her hunted deer or pick a juicy grape out of a peacock's beak, all on a very usual Tuesday night in.
The overall theme of these murals has been coined "modern rustic" where rural scenes and florals take a turn for the magical and incorporate artistically sophisticated elements of chinoiserie. Andrew Martin's recent collaboration with Kit Kemp produced Mythical Land, a giant 3m repeat wallpaper inspired by American folk art. The design walks you through a fairytale world where a lively river is bordered with wild flowers, a tree grows giant pears and a whole dance of mythical creatures are featured along the way.
The major advantage of wall coverings of this ilk is that, once up, your wall decor is complete: it is a masterpiece in it's own right. Where our glossy block-coloured Japan wallpaper makes a funky backdrop for a gallery wall, a mural acts as both wallpaper and art in one. With our exclusive license to reproduce any of the paintings that the National Gallery holds in its permanent collection, Andrew Martin can also dress your home in Canaletto, Caravaggio, Monet or Michelangelo, all in one expansive wall scene. It is this hand-painted style which makes mural wallpaper so unique and appealing, as well as the unusual mixing of old and new: taking an artistic great or a typically Elizabethan vignette and digitally printing it on a maximalist scale then matching it with chrome or a slouchy L-shaped sofa.
Watching visitors to the AM showroom on Walton Street, where Mythical Land covers the inaugural room, they seem first impressed by the size and consequent boldness of this paper then fascinated by the intricate details. As wallpaper is typically used to add depth and dimension to a room, the mural design also conforms, with an additional charm that is reminiscent of Mary Poppins. From the seemingly stark reality of your four surrounding walls, it allows you to momentarily escape to a world of painterly fantasy and colourful exuberance.