The three-week pop-up House of Wallpaper in Soho has nothing to do with the magazine, nor is it a house plastered top to toe in trendy prints.
But for anyone who loves the artistry of wallpaper, a fascinating story unfolds as you climb the narrow staircase of 19 Greek Street.
It’s a tale of a post-war manufacturing business that didn’t sack its artisan factory workers when the going got tough; and now that craft is once again having its time in the sun. After 71 years of trading, Graham & Brown, the a third-generation joint-family firm in Blackburn, Lancashire, is bigger, bolder and braver than ever before.
Like the potters of Stoke, its illustrators, designers and colour-mixers held on to their skills – some through the decades – and now the company has brought its can-do ethos to the London Design Festival and they’re sticking around until 4 October.
To create the house, they worked with the London-based architecture and interior design firm SHH to bring a flavour of their daily bread to Soho.
A riot of pink blooms frame the doorway of 19 Greek Street. Inside, each of the rooms has been conceived as an installation – a mirrored boxroom is covered entirely in a quirky, layered “origami” design; holographic virtual glasses transport you to the factory floor; a paint-mixer and artist are merrily at work; an iPad projects samples onto walls; and, on the top floor, there’s a series of talks and an after-hours seven-course wine-pairing restaurant from Portuguese chef Pedro Passinhas (ex Fat Duck).
Ask a host for a tour and they start with the blue “pillars” set up along the hallway – these are etched manufacturing rollers. Each etching is one layer and when all eight are combined, they make up ‘Pierre Pink’, a rose-gold paper featuring soft-pink flowers, the Graham & Brown wallpaper-of-the-year 2018.
Both metallics and blush pink are enjoying interiors longevity, and they combine well with the real leaves and architectural plants that we know and love. Although Pierre Pink is a safe bet commercially, behind the scenes the design studio at Graham & Brown is a daring combination of creativity and collaboration.
“We’re very comfortable working with other people, which is really important in a design business because that’s where new ideas come from,” says CEO Andrew Graham.
Meanwhile, long-time colour and trend specialist Paula Taylor presented a sneak-peak of its international trends forecasting for trade visitors. Her stack of mood boards distilled many months of work into colourful, textural prints, much inspired by the glamour of runway fashion.
With London already cloaked in autumnal grey, the House of Wallpaper is a pop of colourful fun.