Written by Jo Barrett
Artisan and wallpaper designer and maker Deborah Bowness are both well positioned in leading the way to ensure home décor products are unique and sustainably sourced.
As individuals and communities become increasingly conscious of reducing the use of plastic and opt for a more waste-free lifestyle, there is also growing consideration around where home décor items such as fabrics, furnishings, and flooring and wall coverings are produced and if the supply chain fits fair trading practices.
After 40 years of experience in the luxury flooring and interior finishes market, Artisan authentically continues the practice of only sourcing product that is sustainably produced.
Centrally located in Normanby Road, Mount Eden, Artisan hand-picks natural, sustainable raw materials such as wool, timber, coir and sisal used to manufacture highly durable products. It looks for interior finishes that have a uniqueness and a quality about them that sit well outside the ‘run of the mill’ box.
Consequently, Artisan is careful to choose the right manufacturers and designers it teams up with – these collaborations stretch to several countries around the world. One such collaboration is with UK-based designer, artist and maker, Deborah Bowness.
Deborah Bowness’ wallpaper range is available exclusively through Artisan in New Zealand.
A world-renowned wallpaper designer, Deborah has won several awards for her designs and her work is held in print collections in institutions. These include, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, New York’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and the Wallpaper Museum in Germany.
Deborah graduated from Leeds College of Art & Design in 1997 with a BA(Hons) in surface pattern and textile design, then went on to the Royal College of Art in 1999. Since then, Deborah has been designing, making and exhibiting wallpaper. She lives and works in St Leonards-on-Sea, on the South Coast of England where she has set up a room for printing wallpapers which are then dispatched to clients worldwide.
Traditionally, wallpaper design has been focussed around repeat patterns. But with Deborah’s work she has taken this notion and turned it upside down and inside out, introducing a new perspective by applying her art to the design process.
Deborah has made it her business to offer a unique product for people who want a more idiosyncratic home decor.
Unafraid of breaking convention and challenging traditional concepts around wallpaper design and wallpapering applications, Deborah has produced a broad range of individual, non-repeat pattern wallpaper designs. Some of her wallpaper designs have evolved from assignments she undertook at art school and others have come from commissioned projects.
One such design evolved from her graduation installation ‘Hooks & Frocks’. A deliberate dismissal of the repeat pattern, the design features monochromatic photographs of hanging dresses, montaged together and then machine printed life-size on to drops of wallpaper. The images are enhanced by adding silkscreened colour and hand-painted details – paying homage to trompe l’oeil, a technique that uses colour or shading to make objects appear three dimensional.
“My intention is for the work to interact quietly and playfully with objects and furniture, but not dominate the surrounding environment.”
Deborah says, “All my work uses montages of photographs that I have taken myself and these are made into miniature or life size prints or cut outs. Some of my wallpaper hangings are limited edition collage artworks. There are only 29 printed of each collage and they come with specific hanging instructions.”
Deborah was commissioned to create an alternative Christmas tree for the modernist arts centre, De La Warr Pavillion, located on England’s south coast. This commission was the inspiration behind her environmentally friendly wallpaper Christmas tree product, ‘Tree for Life, not just for Christmas’.
“I created a paper Christmas tree forest,” says Deborah. “The rationale behind the installation takes an ecological premise. Approximately six and a half million Christmas trees a year are bought across the UK, many of which are imported from Demark, France and Belgium.”
“The environmentally friendly wallpaper, ‘Tree for Life, not just for Christmas’ means the paper tree can be reused in the home or the office year after year.”
Deborah adds, “The trees photographed are grown in Sussex, they take up to seven years to mature, every tree harvested is replaced. The piece is a tribute to sustainable UK Christmas tree growing. It urges us to consider the Christmas tree as not just a tree for Christmas, but for its life.
“In keeping with the theme of recycling and sustainability, my ‘Ready-Mades’ project, is a curated collection of redesigned, found, vintage wallpapers and is a small attempt to consider the ‘stuff’ we produce and the beginning of a wider reflection upon our ‘treadmill of accumulation’.”
Deborah’s latest design project ‘Ready-Mades’ involved recycling and reusing old vintage wallpapers.
“It became apparent to me that worldwide there was an abundant resource of leftover wallpaper rolls,” says Deborah. “I continue to source mine from a shop I discovered when studying at the Royal College of Art. It’s a hardware store in north London that has been selling off a huge stock of old wallpapers for years – although I’m keeping the name a secret as they are running low now.”
When asked if she considers herself an environmentalist, she says she is mindful in her home and workplace about doing what she can to protect our environment. The papers she prints on are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. FSC is an organisation that works to support the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide.
She adds that the inks she uses are water based and are below legal requirements for VOC emission. She also recycles paper into notebooks and collage packs and recycles packaging where she can.
Deborah’s work covers an even split of commercial and residential projects and she embraces the chance to work collaboratively. She has worked on projects with clients that include well-known brands such as Christian Lacroix, Paul Smith, Reebok, Selfridges and Sotheby’s.
Equally, she embraces the collaboration with Artisan in New Zealand. Artisan’s design consultants take great care to make the right decision on product, texture and colour and source the very best product to suit the projects purpose and budget. Through this authentic approach and by teaming up with highly talented designers such as Deborah Bowness, Artisan cleverly shapes interiors into gorgeous welcoming spaces.
Visit the Artisan Collective website here.