Design for Diversity artist collaboration results in striking wallcovering launch

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Innovative interiors brand The Monkey Puzzle Tree has launched a bold new artisanal wall covering called ‘Blues Fantasia’. A modern take on Art Deco, the paper contrasts a natural toned textile background, bold colours and metallic gold with a striking African inspired graphic print.

The design will be launched at Decorex in October.

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‘Blues Fantasia’ superwide wall covering is 134cm wide and is priced at £280/m and is available from https://themonkeypuzzletree.com

This latest wallpaper for the multi award winning interiors brand has been two years in the making, and was created in collaboration with animation artist Josephine McYebuah.

Josephine spent most of her childhood in Ghana and is has diverse influences ranging from comics to Bollywood films and Art Deco glamour.

In 2020, Charlotte Raffo, founder of The Monkey Puzzle Tree had spent months in an unsuccessful search for a new artist with a truly different style. She found Josephine as a result of the publicity generated by the Design for Diversity pledge.

“I was so frustrated with the lack of true originality in the designs we received in our first artist call out’ says The Monkey Puzzle Tree founder Charlotte Raffo.

‘I realised that there were two issues we had to address. Firstly that the Yorkshire artists we were working with at the time didn’t truly represent the range of diversity in our region, and secondly that to drive our creativity forwards we desperately needed new ideas from people with different experiences and backgrounds.”

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The pledge, which was created by Kate Watson Smyth (Mad About the House) and interior designer Rukmini Patel aimed to help promote diversity in the interiors industry, something which The Monkey Puzzle Tree had been seeking to do to ensure that the Yorkshire based artists they work with accurately represent the diversity of the region.

One of the company’s aims is to promote and preserve local industry and traditional skills, with all designs being manufactured within 100 miles of their Leeds studio.

To achieve its astonishing depth of colour and texture, Blues Fantasia is silk screen printed onto a natural toned textile base. The wallpaper takes two people five hours to produce each run of 30m, with each colour having to be left to painstakingly dry before the next is applied.

Josephine was chosen for this latest design collaboration for her unique style and interesting and unusual influences. Growing up in Accra, Ghana, she was fascinated by the cartoons and animation she saw on television as well as Bollywood films and the wildlife and colours in her surroundings. After moving to England when she was 15, she channeled her love of cartoon and character into studying for a degree in animation at the University of West of England in Bristol. Moving to Leeds in 2012, Josephine has pursued her own unique style and has ambitions to illustrate books for children and young adults.

The starting point for Blues Fantasia was a series of pencil sketches, where Josephine drew upon references from the Art Deco era, including ornate screens and cinema design. Charlotte took the sketches and arranged them in the geometric style creating the Art Deco style which can be seen in the finished design. The vibrant colour palette was a key part of the look and Josephine and Charlotte collaborated on curating this, mocking the design up by hand using pastels initially before the final colours were trialled at the mill.

The impressive scale and vibrant colours of ‘Blues Fantasia’ make it perfect for creating a show stopping feature in a large space such as a hotel or grand entrance hall. A plain textile wallpaper coordinate is also available to use alongside Blues Fantasia allowing a flexible use of pattern and colour.

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The Monkey Puzzle Tree creates award winning English made interiors with a twist and a conscience. Combining a love of colour and pattern with a strong ethical purpose, their exquisite textiles and wallcoverings enrich interiors with character, authenticity, and a quiet sense of rebellion.

Established in 2017 by Charlotte Raffo, The Monkey Puzzle Tree carved out a new way to harness creative ideas by collaborating with carefully selected Yorkshire artists, celebrating the best of the North of England’s creativity, eccentricity and innovation. The company works to support local communities and minimise the environmental impact of their products, paying their artists generous royalties and manufacturing their luxury designs within 100 miles of their Leeds studio.

AWARDS:

  • Design Guild Mark in 2022 for ‘All Tomorrow’s Futures’ fabric
  • Design Guild Mark in 2021 for ‘Hit the North’ real cork wallpaper.
  • ‘Best in British Product Design’ at the Hotel Designs Brit List Awards 2021 for ‘Metamorphosis’ linen union fabric
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