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Wonder walls: the rise of organic wallcoverings

With a resurgence in full swing, wallcoverings made from organic fibres are the new height of luxury

natural wallcoverings mark alexander
Mark Alexander

As we reported in last issue’s trend essay ‘Earthly Splendours’, architects and designers are drawing on natural materials to create new surfaces, furniture and objets. And what better backdrop for this new era of organic luxury than wallcoverings that utilise botanical resources.

These wallpapers may not be a fresh development, but they’re experiencing a huge resurgence, which no doubt channels our urge to reconnect with nature, while also satisfying our desire for provenance.

On the money is Mark Alexander’s latest collection, ‘Collage’, which features eight designs, plus the four-strong range ‘Grasscloth’. ‘We’ve handwoven various botanical fibres – twists of seagrass, lustrous sisal, raffia and silky strands of abacá – each has its own beauty,’ says creative director Mark Butcher of the range, which is made using handcrafted techniques with plants grown sustainably in the Far East.

‘Grid’ wallcovering, £1,050 per roll, Mark Alexander 
‘Grid’ wallcovering, £1,050 per roll, Mark Alexander
Mark Alexander

Papers with fibres are a soft yet luxurious way to introduce texture and warmth, and offer a single-tone alternative to paint. Like cork, also enjoying a renaissance, they act as an acoustic baffle and provide an extra layer of insulation. And, as this is about celebrating the beauty of natural materials, neutral tones work best. ‘They offer such a lovely depth,’ Butcher adds. ‘We’ve tried to design wallcoverings that not only provide a decorative layer but that will work with the architecture of any space.’

Au naturel: more wallcoverings made using organic fibres

Sequoia bark ‘Saba’, £123.20 per metre, Casamance 
Sequoia bark ‘Saba’, £123.20 per metre, Casamance

Raffia ‘Gru’, £145 per metre, Colony

Coconut bark, abacá and nylon ‘Galapagos ARC32’, £181 per linear metre, Nobilis
Japanese straw ‘Coiba’, £134.76 per roll, Elitis at Abbott + Boyd
Abbott + Boyd
Digitally printed non-woven natural straw ‘Vases Masques’, £124.80 per linear metre, Pierre Frey
Pierre Frey
Sisal grasscloth ‘Berber’ by Peter Dunham, £688.80 per roll, Tissus d’Hélène
Sisal grasscloth ‘Berber’ by Peter Dunham, £688.80 per roll, Tissus d’Hélène
Tissus d’Hélène

This article appeared in the March 2020 issue of ELLE Decoration.

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