My team and I recently teamed up with hand painted wallpaper gurus de Gournay to create, ‘Deco Panes’, a bespoke wall paper collection in a variety of colours, available at Harrods and de Gournay stores worldwide. This collaboration resulted in an original and modern wallpaper – an exciting departure from de Gournay’s famous chinoiserie designs.
The design was inspired by the iconic architecture of the Harrods storefront, which dates back to the 19th century. Scallop shapes with intricate Art Deco detailing dance across the wallpaper panels, creating a non-repeating mural. At first glance, the effect is striking and abstract but upon closer inspection, the wallpaper reveals ornate details.
I recently met up with Jemma Cave, Senior Designer at de Gournay, to learn more about her creative process and the painstaking detail that goes into every de Gournay wall paper…
Talk us through the decision to collaborate with Harrods Interiors and Create ‘Deco Panes’?
de Gournay have always maintained an emphasis on the creation of unique hand painted wallpapers and fabrics for beautifully designed interiors. The opportunity to collaborate with Harrods made perfect sense: a talented in house design team – with a global outreach – likewise committed to exquisite design.
The timing was also ideal, as the ‘Deco’ style corresponded to inspirations we’d hoped to explore for some time with a view to expanding existing motifs within our own collections. The Harrods Interiors team wanted to root the design in the heritage of the store.
The collection is notably Art Deco, what was the inspiration behind that?
We looked first to the Harrods archives for inspiration as well as specific architectural elements from the shop interior, such as the wonderful glass ceiling in the Georgian restaurant and intricate details of friezes and architraves.
We were all collectively drawn to various stylised scalloped and fluted shapes, which ultimately became the framework in the final ‘Deco Panes’ design. There is intricate detailing within the petal-like forms which again echo Deco and Art Nouveau elements that reference the architectural elements seen throughout the building.
When looking for inspiration for a wallpaper collection, where do you and your team begin? What is the creative process that you follow?
Each project is so different, there is no set creative formula so to speak. We often begin by exploring the historic roots within a design concept – original source material, aquatints, paintings, photographs and drawings, anything that might catch our eye – and ideas grow from there. With Harrods Interiors, the collaboration started in exactly this manner, rifling through archive imagery dating back to the nineteenth century. It’s always a fascinating process, whatever the project.
Experimentation is a huge element of developing bespoke, one off wallpapers and new designs. Another big part of the process is choosing the right materials that consider both the aesthetic and practical terms of installing the finished design onto walls.
How long does it take to create a panel of hand painted wall paper? What is the manufacturing process?
It takes between 50 to 140 hours to create a panel of hand painted wallpaper, depending on the density of the design, the materials in question and the number of colours used to paint the design.
The manufacturing process varies according to the type of background and the painting style. Some of the designs are first drawn out in pencil and then painted in painstaking detail. Others might be painted free hand with large brushes, to create looser and more painterly feeling designs.
To give a (very) brief and general overview, the backgrounds are all prepared by hand, from the vast array of materials one can paint onto. From pure 100% silk, dyed in myriad colours, through to metallic grounds – where small squares of metal leaf are gilded by hand onto silk or paper. The design template is usually drawn out first and then painted. Once complete, final steps include mounting the reverse of the panels with smooth paper, trimming their edges and ensuring the design lines up correctly across multiple panels. They are then submitted for a final inspection before being carefully rolled and packed, ready to send to site.
Talk us through the ‘bas relief’ technique that has been used in some of the colourways?
After years of experimenting to create ‘3-D’ effects in the papers, we finally produced our ‘Bas Relief’ technique. The raised sections of the paintwork suggest carved details which are then gilded by hand. The final effect is beautiful and quite striking, emulating gold filigree or fine moulded metalwork. We offer the Harrods wallpaper in a range of standard colourways, two of which are painted in ‘Bas Relief’.
What is your favourite design in the collection? And how can you see it being used in an interior space?
Each of the colourways offers a variant look. I do love the ‘Bas Relief’ gold on gold colourway and could see if being used in a ‘Piero Portaluppi’ style interior, with lots of brass detailing in the furniture. That said I also love the hand painted black and white colourway- it is playful and bold and would create a much more theatrical composition.
I love the fact that the wallpaper is so different in each colourway and also that the panels are interchangeable. For a daring, contemporary project, the blush and taupe hues could work perfectly – while for something more pared-back, one of the metallic finishes would really add some interest…
Which one is your favourite?