A tree for Christmas doesn't get more minimalist than this. (Well, I guess it could, if it were just a line drawing of a tree done right on the wall. But that wouldn't be very festive.) Deborah Bowness is not just any wallpaper designer; she plays with illusion to create unique trompe l'oeil effects for the home, from garments to furniture to whole walls of books, or at least it looks that way. Her 'Trees for Life' are aptly named as they don't die like real evergreens, and they don't suck the life out of you every December like the artificial ones when you have to dislodge the giant box from the dusty, sooty attic (what is all that black stuff up there in these British houses?!) and negotiate a safe journey down the ladder. And then back up again. (I have almost sold myself on buying one of her flat paper pines.) Ok, the trees, while realistic, are not really trompe l'oeil unless they make you believe you're looking out a window into a Scandinavian forest. But they're still a neat alternative to the full-on glittery celebration if that's where your head's at. And you can still decorate them if you want to by pinning the bauble loops through them.
The rest of Bowness' collection really does trick the eye. But the twist is two-fold. Take this design from 'Illusions of Grandeur':
What I love about this particular collection is how each design appears to be a simple wallcovering in a traditional pattern (complete with skirting boards from the era), but it feels a bit unsettled. Look again and you can see the patterns are intentionally askew (both in the design itself and the way the drops are hung), the effect a kind of irreverent nod to the past, taking the old and stuffy and slapping a sense of humour into it. (In my paranoid mind I would be worried guests would think I hadn't put the drops on the wall properly and failed to notice, and then I would have to explain to each person who saw it for the first time that it was meant to look that way. And then awkward smiles would follow. Then lots of wine to forget.)
Bowness' wallpapers are great for adding texture, colour, dimension, and well, things you just may not have the space for, or aren't practical or affordable to do, such as tiling a wall, like with the 'Tube Station' tile design, above. (I don't think anything in that photo is real, it's all paper. Even the cabinet and the teapot, and the floor is a wallpaper, too. Imagine an entire room done this way...it would feel a bit eerie, wouldn't it? Like some kind of fun house where nothing is as it seems.)
I'm starting to look around the room and wondering how a corner of 'Genuine Fake Books' might look:
Have a look around Deborah Bowness' website to see the rest of her range, it's all really exciting. Her work comes with an unusual presence you can feel simply by looking at the photos, so imagine what it's like actually living with these sly strips of art.