Three Outstanding Portland Wallpaper Makers
Meet a trio of rising design houses pushing home decor beyond the paint brush.
Not long ago, we reported on the amazing stash of century-old wallpaper assembled by Portland's Bolling & Co. But what about new wallpaper designs? We rounded up three top Portland 'paper makers and got their stories.
Mary Kysar remembers helping her mother and sister hang wallpaper as a kid. They would spend entire Saturday afternoons sticking bordered wallpaper ducks onto their kitchen walls, and pale purple flowers embellished Kaysar’s childhood bedroom. "Wallpaper gives people the ability to refresh the interior of their home,” says Kysar, “in a way that is more exciting than paint.”
Today Kysar, along with co-owner Topher Sinkinson, creates wallpaper for Makelike, their design collective established in 2000 on SE Washington Street. The two had previously worked in magazine design in New York, and initially Makelike was solely a design company with no wallpaper production. But after initial success with some experimental patterns, wallpaper became Makelike’s main gig in 2008.
The pair's papers now gild Nike executive offices and showrooms in New Zealand, Paris, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. The wallpaper is designed in Portland, but made in California with a silkscreen printing technique that makes wallpaper that looks alive. “We don’t want to just print wallpaper,” says Kysar. “We want to be able to see the layers of paint on paper. We do hand-drawn designs and then work with our computer, and go back and forth until we have what we want. It is a nice mix of technology and hand work.”
Price: $150-200 for one to five colors, two rolls minimum (5 yard rolls). http://shop.makelike.com/collections/wallpaper
The Make House
Nathan Reimer began screen printing by accident. In fact, he had no real interest in making wallpaper. “I just went with my friend to get a screen printing kit one day,” says Reimer. “I would have gone to get a sandwich.” Now Reimer has over ten years of screen printing experience, designing t-shirts, and consulting. In 2010 he founded The Make House, a creative space on NE Alberta for artists to share their work. Last year he added wallpaper to the docket.
Much like his initial start in wallpaper, his design inspirations come spontaneously and he says he likes to keep it that way. “I’ve worked in fashion where deadlines stifle design ideas,” Reimer says. “I travel, hike, and camp a lot. I am constantly trying to learn and saturate my life with rich experiences.”
All of Reimer’s wallpapers are designed and screen-printed in NE Portland and are customizable, so if you enjoy his subtle microdot pattern you can select the color that best suits your space.
Price: $22-29 for a single sheet (five sheets equivalent to a standard size roll). http://www.themakehouse.com
Avery Thatcher, an avid traveler, is inspired by all the patterns the world has to offer, from Indonesian prints to South African design. She started laying tile and taking mosaic classes to learn the trade of pattern-making in 2006; four years later she opened Juju Papers. “I remember when my mom decided to do wallpaper in our entire living room,” says Thatcher. “It was a really big deal and an outrageous expense. To me though, it represented total sophistication.”
Thatcher uses environmentally friendly water-based ink and sustainably harvested paper. “I think Portland style is becoming influential all over the country,” says Thatcher. “Wallpaper is going to be a part of it.” Juju Papers was the first designer in Portland to incorporate specks of neon in wallpaper combining vintage style with new colors.
Price: $165-200 a roll (13-yard rolls).http://jujupapers.com/index.php