The Brooklyn wallpaper company Flavor Paper has launched a new all-female collection, Fempower, featuring designs by five women artists. The new patterns were released this month on International Women’s Day and are available now, starting around $400 for an eight-foot roll.
“More than half of our designers are women, but it’s the first time that we focused on an all women-designed collection,” company founder and creative director Jon Sherman said. “We didn’t give them any rules or guidelines. It was really in their creative realm to make something they would want to represent them.”
Sherman, a former chef, DJ, consultant and interior designer, launched Flavor Paper in New Orleans in 2003, after he heard about a wallpaper company in Oregon that was closing and planning to burn its equipment. He quickly contacted the owner.
“We discussed his history and the current state of the shop,” Sherman said. “I then jumped on a plane, flew out to Oregon, rescued the equipment from the burn pile, sent it to New Orleans in a semi, and taught myself how to make wallpaper. I hired the closest person I could find to a wallpaper printer — a guy who screen printed posters when not working in the Harley-Davidson shop in the French Quarter. We just figured it out through pure determination and perseverance.”
Sherman moved the company to Brooklyn after Hurricane Katrina hobbled New Orleans in 2005.
“Ninety percent of our clients were in New York and our paper was manufactured in New York and New Jersey,” Sherman said. “After Katrina, with power and delivery problems, it was increasingly frustrating trying to do business in New Orleans. We decided it would be better for everybody to move the company to New York.”
Flavor Paper now has 18 employees in Brooklyn, including its Boerum Hill headquarters and a digital production facility in Industry City. Its 160 patterns are print-to-order and almost all customizable, giving customers the option to adjust the scale, color and material of the wallpaper.
Its hand screened and digital printed papers include full wall murals and easily removable EZ Papes. Almost half its clients come from the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. And its scratch and sniff wallpaper Cherry Forever is part of the permanent collection at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
“He employs a lot of artists and he’s got a great eye and he’s nice and he’s great to work with,” said Gowanus-based artist Tamara Staples, whose “Placebo Effect” wallpaper is part of the new Fempower collection. Staples used discarded pills that she collected from friends, neighbors and even strangers to create the kaleidoscope pattern, which Sherman tweaked and printed on a glittery paper.
“Making this project pulled out a design aspect of myself that I didn’t realize was there and it’s super exciting,” Staples said. “When I showed up at the opening, it was stunning. He’s such a master at texture and just making a two-dimensional surface illuminate. I was just thrilled with what he came up with.”
Natalie Gwen Frank, a Bushwick-based artist, designed “Power, My Dear,” a contemporary toile pattern featuring painterly images of women.
“I’ve always been in love with wallpaper and dreamed about designing wallpaper, and I’ve always especially loved toiles,” Frank said. “We talked about the idea of making a feminist toile that was soft enough to entice little girls but powerful enough to get across the message of everyday feminism.”
Sherman advised Frank on direction, and helped her select a pearly white paper for her pattern, which comes in two sizes.
“It was joy to do, especially with Jon,” Frank said. “They have just a wonderful reputation and Jon, especially, for collaborating with artists. I hope it inspires the next generation of wonder women.”
[Images via Flavor Paper unless noted otherwise]
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