These archive designs originate from original documents at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery and private collections; all of them researched, reworked and re-coloured by Little Greene. Comprising twelve authentic patterns from as early as the turn of the century, to as late as 1976, this book includes timeless designs from several key periods, notably the post-war revival of the 1950s and the ensuing decades, renowned for their design flair and creative dynamism.
From the hand-printed ‘Apsley Collection’ by John Line & Sons, this relaxed interpretation of an urban Hampstead scene is attributed to designer Els Calvetti. All the line detail is retained and even the original colourways of grey and blue have been accurately recreated for the 21st Century interior.
Drawn from an early 19th century silk kimono, an abstract depiction of Pine Trees emerging out of the clouds.
Zingara was the name given to this design in a John Line collection produced in 1960. The colourway Cerulean Sea is also completely faithful to the document found in the wallpaper archive at Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery. The elegant freehand line quality of the original drawing serves additional charm to this relaxed scene of boats resting at anchor.
Two colourways of this iconic 1970s paper are known to have existed in a French book from 1975. Both originals were neutral in colour and printed on an embossed paper, giving the effect of linen. Whilst several of the contemporary interpretations are bolder in colour, one of the reproductions in this book is completely faithful to the original paper’s textured effect.
‘Reverie’ is a classic example of a late twentieth century wallpaper pattern that was itself inspired by the visual language of a previous generation. We can clearly identify elements of Henri Rousseau’s 1910 painting ‘The Dream’ in this design, yet, as a wallpaper, it was chanced upon in a 1970s book, sandwiched among some 120 other wallpaper designs.
The popularity of screen-printing amongst mid-twentieth century designers and artists was testament to the quality of print, versatility of mark and subsequent expression in colour that was suddenly achievable. Decorative silhouettes were particularly effective and a number of sources cite a design based on ferns or other ornamental plants.
A frame of lines and spots originally surrounded the cone motifs in this design, found in the 1950s wallpaper book “Onward Décor”. These have been removed in the contemporary interpretation to create a simple, very usable ‘retro’ wallpaper that retains all its whimsical, quintessentially 50s charm.
From the same ‘Apsley Collection’ as the ‘Hampstead’ design, Norcombe is a floral pattern to which a second print colour has been added, to give more depth. Consistent with its contemporaries, the sketched line lends an air of informality, while the order impressed by the repeating pattern means the papers are extremely usable in a contemporary home whilst retaining a true narrative of the 1950s style.
Perhaps the most iconic of the Retrospective Papers, Starflower is a design believed to be Belgian in origin and has been reprinted in a colourway very close to the original. Dating from 1967, when bold, statement wallpapers became more widely available, ‘Starflower’ is a true representation of this radical new interpretation of a floral pattern.
A striking, light-hearted design that embodies the 1950s, this paper was found in “The Architects Book of 100 Wallpapers” published in 1954. The original paper shows a selection of line-drawn dandelions, almost lost against an informal freehand trellis. The contemporary interpretation is a little easier on the eye, featuring the six subtly varied flower heads on a solid ground of colour.
The inspiration for this pattern is a wallpaper from the 1955 book ‘Contemporary Designs’. Originally a very ‘busy’ paper, much of the background has been removed to give more presence to the floral motifs and their beautiful simplicity. The colours are drawn from archive documentation of the era, in addition to a chic, pared-down black and white interpretation.