March 19, 2016

The Brave at Heart | An Interview with

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Wallpaper is one of those things that has the ability to make me shudder at the sight of it or have me jumping with sheer delight at it’s ability to create a dazzling statement wall. I created a pretty optical wallpaper line for my final project at university and have been on the lookout for ways to carry on creating it without it costing a bomb ever since.

Had the same problem or want to try something new? Well say hello to – a savvy design duo of husband and wife team, Anne & Tom Puukko, along with Creative Director, Oliver Green. This straight-talking bunch launched their first collection in 2015, featuring work from over 70 contemporary artists, including graffiti artists, surfwear designers, fine artists, illustrators and photographers. The collection of wallpapers they offer are completely varied and they literally have a design for everyone, from soft pastel colours to way out there streaky paint effects. Naturally I steer towards the bold and graphic, like the below design by Peter Judson, but actually my favourite design is that of Liam Sparkes, a tattoo artist from the UK, who has created a monochromatic set of designs perfectly described as bringing “brutal simplicity” to the wall.

Thoroughly intrigued by the process that the team go through, I sent a few questions over to their Berlin base and was pretty impressed with their honest, passionate answers. Read below for a little more insight and a very exciting open call to you all!’s mission is ‘More Art. Less Decoration.’ I whole-heartedly agree with this statement! How are you making this happen?

‘More Art Less Decoration’ came from really early conversations we were having about ‘why’ we would start a company together. What motivations we’d need to invest time and money into a start up and what would keep us firing even when it got shitty. All of us individually want to find a blend of art and commerce that had been punched and kicked out of the advertising world we all once worked in. We knew art would always be inspiring to work around. It’s a really nice reason to have a company. Google tell themselves not to be evil (pah) and we we remind ourselves thats why we are doing this is, to put more art out there in the Universe. That’s the goal. MORE ART! And wallpaper seems a great and slightly subversive tool to achieve that goal. It’s both a reaction to the world around us and a reaction to the medium we work in. There’s that phrase – “The banality of evil” which one can also interpret as the the evil of banality and nothing is more banal than decoration. Wallpaper is almost famous for being banal and we love that about it. We love the idea that medium can also be the message. So how are we getting art out there? By taking something that wasn’t art and turning it into art. By replacing, like for like, decoration with art. 

You have a wide spectrum of artists creating wallpaper for your collection and most have never designed wallpaper before, why do you think it’s important to have a such a diverse selection of creatives on board? I love the fact you can look through the shop and nothing is the same!

Partly due to the nature of how our collection was developed, by asking the whole world for submissions, and partly due to the fact that we treat our collection like a group art show. It makes for an exciting body of work that adds genuine surprise and inspiration to the process of creating an interior in a home that truly reflects our customers desire to express themselves. 2016 will be slightly more structured but the same fizzing energy will always run through the heart of this brand.

And how do you select artists to be involved with Any insider tips for someone looking to make a submission?

One of our other mottos is MORE GOOD SHIT. LESS SHIT SHIT. Originality and artistry. There’s no shortcut. The best pieces we have are simply good ideas well executed. Evidence of the artist. An authentic voice. Evidence of craft. Love in the work. Customers know it and react to it – every single time without fail. 

Finally, what do you have planned for 2016? I have my fingers crossed for some exciting collaborations.
So do we! We are also adding a couple more products to our range. Working with some talented typographers to create some wild canvases for the brave at heart. And we’re adding some soft furnishings – probably cushions to get started. For the core wallpaper collection 2016 will see something more refined and slightly more edited. When we started nobody knew us and few understood us. There was nothing to see. No proof of concept. Convincing artists to take a punt was sometimes a process. This time around we have a little more experience and earned little more trust. We’ll tap a handful of artists on the shoulder and commission directly but we’ll also open the submissions up to the wider artistic community. This is something that will never change. At essence we are a brand that believes that we are surrounded by woefully under exposed artistic talent and we see our role as unearthing it and helping to give it a wall…

If you like the straight talking vibes of the team and you agree with their mission statement, why not submit yourself? The brand has just launched an open call for their 2016/2017 roster, with the brief of ‘make wallpaper that’s art.’

There are 10 places available to those that can lift wallpaper out of the ‘decoration ghetto’ and turn it into an artistic piece. With a $500 fee, sales royalties and of course the chance to turn your designs into a striking reality, this is a great opportunity for anyone in the creative industry and hopefully you’ve seen how varied their talented designers are by now. You don’t need to be a surface design or textiles expert.

The online community will be helping to choose the winning designs and submission is now open with a closing date of 2nd May 2016, plenty of time to get experimenting with the brief. There are four categories in total – Pop Modern (yes please), Romantic, Natural World and Figurative – the sky is your limit! Just interested in browsing the designs? Vote here!

The full specification and a very helpful guide to creating repeat patterns can be downloaded here and to be considered submit your work here. Who knows, I may even enter some work myself, anything to beat the magnolia textured wallpaper in my own abode (screw you landlord).


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Emma Jane Palin is a freelance art consultant, interior stylist and multi-award-winning blogger residing in Margate, UK. She has worked with various home and lifestyle brands not limited to West Elm, Apple, John Lewis, Habitat, MADE, Caran D'Ache + No.3 Gin. Emma is also a regular contributor to Hunker where she writes about design trends and interior advice.

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