Wallpaper can be a striking feature of interior design. In fact, many people opt for wallpaper, rather than paint because of the relatively low cost and ease of application. It is one of the few home care products that can have a huge revitalizing effect on your space without requiring structural changes.
Wallpaper design comes in a huge variety of colors and patterns, from complex, mural-like images to simple, repeating patterns. But did you know that wallpaper as a concept is thousands of years old? In fact, the first instances of wallpaper usage are believed to have occurred in China in around 200BC. Since then, in the field of interior design wallpaper has been a staple that has only increased in popularity across the centuries. Here are 4 of the strangest historical facts that you may not know about wallpaper and wallpaper design.
1. Renaissance Europe
Throughout the medieval period in Europe, wall tapestries were a popular form of interior decoration among the upper classes. As the period progressed into the Renaissance, wallpaper (which was cheaper and easier to manufacture) began to take over as décor’s hottest luxury trend. Most early wallpaper was patterned using a process called woodblock, or stenciling.
These early examples of wallpaper design were similar to tapestries. The pictures could be used to tell stories, or simply for decoration. Famous artists even designed wall-hangings of this type. One example of this is a black and white design wallpaper created by Albrect Durer in 1515, called The Triumphal Arch, that featured an image of a luxurious palace. It was created and reprinted to hang in stately homes and manors and is an early instance of a mass-produced wallpaper design.
2. The English Civil War
During the English Civil War, King Charles 1st was executed and replaced by the religious dictator, Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell’s Puritanical beliefs meant that he disapproved of luxury and of frivolous items, like wallpaper, which had previously been popular. Under his regime, Cromwell banned the manufacture of wallpaper because he saw it as unnecessary and vain to decorate one’s house. However, after Cromwell’s death and the Restoration of Charles 2nd, wallpaper design for wall hangings was once again allowed and continued to be a burgeoning industry.
3. Victorian Era
The Victorian Era (1837-1901) in Britain was the century for interior design. The boom of consumer industries meant that, for the first time, lower and middle-class people had access to commodities and goods to decorate their homes. And they did! The Victorians had a particular penchant for extravagant appliances, decorative ornaments, and amazing wallpaper design. You could find wallpapers of all colors and types in the Victorian home, from black and red wallpaper design in the study to Chinese-inspired wallpaper design for bedroom décor.
However, one of the most popular Victorian wallpapers turned out to have a deadly secret. A certain shade of green wallpaper (known as ‘Scheele’s Green’) became particularly trendy in the 1850s and Victorians flocked to the shops to fill their homes with it. However, the green coloring actually came from arsenic in the paper and was responsible for many deaths by toxic poisoning!
4. Andy Warhol
In the 1960s, American pop artist Andy Warhol became famous for art and sculpture that showcased his colorful, minimalist blend of consumerism and artistic design. During his career, Warhol designed a series of wallpapers that used graphic repeating images, such as his famous cow’s head design. These wallpapers were put on a show in the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966, with each wallpaper design decorating a different room. Warhol’s perspective was wildly influential on interior décor – even if some of the prints are a little bold for your average kitchen wallpaper design!
No matter what century you look at across Western history, you will usually find that wallpaper in some form was an aspect of popular interior design. As humans, we love to decorate our space and put our own unique stamp on our homes. With modern décor styles emerging all the time, it will be fascinating to see how wallpaper evolves over the next few decades!
Which historical period do you think has the best interior design? Do you love Victorian extravagance or graphic, modern prints? Share your comments with us!
Alex Green is a copywriter with 3 years of experience. He is fond of healthy living and knows everything about home improvement. In his spare time, Alex likes walking with his golden retriever, meeting with friends, and attending the gym.