Dressing Up the Walls
Friday, April 20th, 2012
By Sarah Handelman
Sixteen years ago, Tracy Kendall’s kitchen needed a facelift, but after unfruitful searches for a suitable wallpaper, the designer resolved to make her own. Kendall’s inspired wallpaper solution resulted in a blown-up trifecta of cutlery: a larger-than-life fork, spoon, and knife that stand taller than the chef without overpowering the room.
Kendall, then a print technician living in South London, showed a sample of her work to colleagues at The Royal College of Art, and one impressed professor gave her a coveted 15-minute slot among students to present her wallpaper to visiting fashion editors. The next week, Ilse
Crawford, the founder of Europe’s Elle Decoration, requested a bespoke version of the wallpaper for a feature. More than a decade later, Kendall is at the helm of her own wallpaper design studio. Her original work still resides in her kitchen, as well as the permanent collections of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and New York’s Cooper Hewitt.
Much of Kendall’s work draws upon her varied fashion background. Stitches, sequins, and Vivienne Westwood-esque fringe fill the pages of her look books. But don’t fret; despite the couture design techniques, these made-to-order papers are durable and meant for living spaces. In fact, most can be installed as easily as the old, peeling Bart Simpson wallpaper that can be seen peeking out from the back of Kendall’s studio closet.