Full on Flavor!!!
All images below courtesy of Arte International.
above - Flavor paper - Highway66.
above - Flavor paper - Mustachio.
above - Flavor paper - B-a-n-a-n-a-s.
Last month I was waxing lyrical about how refreshing it is when a well-known and much loved design house brings out a collection in collaboration with a guest designer. Things get shaken up. Expectations are remodelled, and moulds get broken.
Well, take that thought to another level, multiply it by fifty and fasten your seat belts, and then you’ll have an idea of what hit my team and me when we were at this year’s London Design Week in March.
It was towards the end of a long day as we headed for the Arte showroom, sure of seeing something fabulous, but not quite prepared for the joyous shock that awaited us. Arte is a European designer and manufacturer of high-end wallcoverings based in Belgium, enjoying a solid reputation in the fields of quality, technical expertise, service and innovation. All of their offerings exude both style and substance. Our lovely rep had just finished bringing us up to date with their newest collections and asked us if we’d heard of Flavor Paper. We had to admit that we hadn’t. “Well” she said, “this collection won’t be for everybody, but see what you think”.
What did we think ????? I can only liken it to an experience those of you who were around in the Eighties will probably have had, when for the first time you shovelled a load of Space Dust into your mouth, washed it down with a swig of Coca Cola and waited for the ensuing explosion. It was BRILLIANT !!!!
Flavor Paper for Arte is a collection of audacious wallpapers — to say the least. Flavor Paper is an American company from the creative heart of Brooklyn, New York that thrives on extravagant designs and a bold attitude. They are known in the scene for producing exclusive designer wallpapers made by hand, in partnership with external designers such as Kravitz Design, the singer and artist Lenny Kravitz’s design studio.
Converted by Arte into rotary screen prints, with names such as B-A-N-A-N-A-S! and Mustachio it soon becomes apparent that Arte’s Flavor Paper collection is a real one-off. This bold collection of 14 designs, with a touch of irony here and there, is inspired by various movements and social trends from pop art and Van Gogh, to classical (and slightly less classical) floral prints.
B-A-N-A-N-A-S! and Cherry Forever are pop art classics, available in white or with fabulous high gloss silver or chrome backgrounds. And if glossy backgrounds float your boat, check out Starglint - a splendid foil design evoking lightly rippling water, or Mustachio – a light hearted nod to male grooming.
There are a couple of smart geometrics in the collection. Brasilia is a grand richly-contrasting pattern, inspired by Lenny Kravitz's love for Brazilian art and culture, while Highway 66 gets its inspiration from a textile woven by the Navajo, a Native American tribe.
Among the floral designs are Feroz, a stylized jungle flora hiding monkeys and jaguars peering out from their natural habitat, and one of my favourite designs entitled Flower of love, in which Art Nouveau meets 1960s psychedelia.
But what makes this collection truly unique and an instant classic are the quirky, unexpected and sometimes even a trifle shocking designs, such as City Park, Sharp Descent and Vigilant Floral. When first viewed, City Park appears to be a classical damask pattern. However on closer inspection you realise it’s subtly interjected with urban elements, such as parking meters, fire hydrants - and even a few rats! Sharp Descent is another pop art inspired creation, featuring a plethora of razor sharp falling objects, ranging from innocuous cork screws, through open scissors to brutal and intimidating knives. At first glance Vigilant Floral is simply a traditional floral design, but upon deeper investigation you realize you're not alone. You're being watched. A fantastic take on today's Big Brother culture, designer Dan Funderburgh uses security cameras to reveal how we have become impervious enough to the presence of cameras that we don't even immediately notice them, when in such a contradictory scenario as this floral wallpaper. Yet the serious nature of the commentary loses out to the overall humour behind the way the elements have been combined. Pure Flavor Paper mockery.
Our lovely Arte rep was right, this collection is not for everybody – but it’s certainly going to enjoy a prime spot on the shelves at John Charles Interiors !!! Come and see what you think.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - April 2018