The Polly Dunbar Decoration collection
A wallpaper collection produced in collaboration with the renowned illustrator.
What inspired you to work together?:
Erica – “Polly and I studied illustration together at the University of Brighton (1996-99). She went on to become an acclaimed illustrator and author. I worked as a graphic designer for a number of years before studying Printed Textiles at the RCA and establishing my eponymous wallpaper brand.
Being familiar with Polly’s work from early on, I was inspired by the unique way her drawings might translate to the wall. Her ease of drawn line, and sense of narrative, was a joy to work with and we were able to combine this with my experience of wallpaper print production and finishes.
Polly – “When Erica and I started talking about making a collection together we were excited to do something completely original that stood apart from my books for children. We wondered how my figurative style could marry with the flair and rhythm that Erica’s designs are so well known for.”
Are the wallpapers for children or grown-ups?
Erica – “They are for both. We wanted to design a collection that would intrigue both adults and children. The wallpapers should be ultimately be chosen for the individual person and specific space.”
Polly – I am most well-known for my children’s books, but I have always kept a thread of more ‘grown up’ themes going in my work. I explore printmaking, painting and fill sketch books with line drawings, without concerning myself too much with who they are for. My book Hello Mum has recently been published by Faber and Faber and this is my first step into adult publishing. The opportunity to work with Erica on a collection to express this lesser-known side of my work was of course irresistible.”
Who are the characters in three of your wallpaper designs, Dream, Seraph and the Wallflowers? Is there a story behind them?
Polly – “Working on a picture book, the characters have to leap off the page in a very individual way. I approached the wallpaper collection with a different hat on. The designs derive more from my subconscious, as I sat with a pen and let the drawing happen. Paul Klee described drawing as ‘taking a line for a walk’ and it was very much like this, a meandering walk. I didn’t want the collection to tell a specific story but rather evoke many different stories depending on the beholder.
When I was a child I used to pick out faces in the patterns we had in our home – a curly leaf becomes a head-dress, berries become eyes. I would create my own narratives entirely from shapes. I hope that our designs have a similar effect, leaving lots of space for the onlooker to drift off into their own thoughts and project their own stories or ideas onto the wallpaper.”
How did Polly’s illustrations translate into wallpaper patterns?
Erica – “Polly produced many drawings and we worked together by editing these down to the essence of the mood we wanted for the collection – something gentle but refined. The design of the patterns involved a to and fro between Polly and myself to get the flow and scale working.
I worked with Polly’s palette of greens, blues and yellows and in places included metallics, to add a sense of luxury and depth.
It was a challenge to work with faces for a wallpaper collection. We wanted there to be a softness and ambiguity of expression, so they don’t overpower a room. Unlike a specific book character, we both agreed they needed to have a subtle presence, characterful yet enigmatic; striking in design and yet calming in atmosphere.”
Explore the full collection:
Polly Dunbar Decoration