Q&A with Nick Cope of Calico Wallpaper in Brooklyn

Designer wall coverings have reclaimed their place as focal points in home décor. More companies are entering the fray to create papers that are more like wall-sized works of art than a perpetuity of country flowers. One such firm is Brooklyn-based Calico Wallpaper, which started when partners Nick Cope and Rachel Mosler, temporarily unemployed after Hurricane Sandy, began experimenting with aqueous surface designs on paper. Cope shared the company’s artistic approach and unraveled wallpaper’s latest evolution.

Calico Wallpaper’s Wabi River creates a vertical field of gold. image: white arrow

Calico Wallpaper’s Wabi River creates a vertical field of gold. image: white arrow

Long Island Pulse: What is trending in the world of wallpaper?
Nick Cope: There’s certainly a renaissance in wallpaper design. You have numerous new companies popping up over night. People are using digital printing; screen-printing is also becoming popular. I think there’s a lot of referencing of historical styles of wallpaper. You’re seeing beautiful digital prints on top of grasscloth, you’re seeing interesting hand-painted wallpaper. There are also digitally printed murals like we have designed. It really kind of covers the gamut of style in terms of old to new.

Pulse: How has the process of creating wallpaper changed?
Cope: Everything is made by hand. We’re starting with hand-made artwork and then digitizing it for custom printing. So Rachel [Mosler, co-founder] is floating pigment over water and then creating a print and that print is cut up, digitized and then we print based on the size of where it’s going to be installed.

Brasscloth Vignette in cool shades.

Brasscloth Vignette in cool shades.

Pulse: What role does technology play in the process?
Cope: The last few years have just been a revolution in capabilities. Ten years ago, these murals wouldn’t have been possible because the resolution of printing and the quality of other types of substrates wasn’t there. They wouldn’t have been contenders alongside screen-printed or block-printed or hand-painted wallpapers.

Moody Aurora Vignette is perfect for elegant spaces.

Moody Aurora Vignette is perfect for elegant spaces.

Pulse: What influences your designs?
Cope: We are inspired definitely by historical wallpapers [that are] hand painted on silk and custom murals. But then we were also inspired by metallic, kind of deco wallpapers. And of course you kind of can’t get into pattern design without paying respect to William Morris [wallpaper designer of the 1860s Arts and Crafts style].

Aurora Vignette easily reflects daylight.

Aurora Vignette easily reflects daylight.

Pulse: Any tips on finding the right wallpaper?
Cope: Go straight to the local designer by contacting them directly. You can get a more tailored service by going directly to them. Even being able to go and visit a studio and see it in person. Most designers welcome any interior designer or user to stop in the studio.