The first example of British wallpaper was found at Christ’s College, Cambridge, printed on the back of documents dated 1509. The paper was in the fashionable Italian damask, mimicking materials such as embossed leather and plasterwork. The designs were block printed onto small sheets, with the overall pattern only becoming obvious when everything was brought together on the wall. Block-printing was done with a block of fruitwood, carved on one side with a design which was dipped into a pigment and pressed onto the paper.
It wasn’t until the 1840s that wallpaper really became popular thanks to steam-powered mechanised printing and the use of long, continuous rolls like we still use today. Things changed again after the Second World War, when the housing boom meant wallpaper was in greater demand and more needed to be made quicker and cheaper than before. Rotary printing, Gravure printing, and Flexographic printing techniques all came about in the mid-20th Century. Since the 20th century, wallpaper has even entered the centre of the art world, with Cecil Beaton and Vivienne Westwood having produced prints.
Although digital printing is already in use, Farrow & Ball wallpapers are still made in more traditional ways. Born and bred in Dorset, England, the company remains in the same town of Wimborne where it was founded in the 1930s by painters John Farrow and Richard Ball.
Today, whilst most wallpaper is printed with ink, the F&B collection is made from the British company’s own paint, giving the paper a uniquely tactile texture.
As wood is a sustainable resource, wallpaper has very little impact upon the environment. The wallpapers from Farrow & Ball are also printed on FSC-approved paper, and the paints contain minimal VOCs.
There are floral prints, damasks, stripes, and geometric patterns. Some are classic, whilst others are more contemporary. There’s a pattern for everyone.
And below is some helpful advice from the experts: