This Iconic Wallpaper Design Has Been Artfully Reimagined for a New Era

Sean Santiago
·2-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy of CW Stockwell and Voutsa
Photo credit: Courtesy of CW Stockwell and Voutsa

Above: The five patterns of CW Stockwell and Voutsa’s Martinique Celebration are named for the artists who inspired them (clockwise from top left): Theodor, David, Werner, Henri, and Josef.

Few wallpapers are more recognizable than Martinique, a riot of fronds created in 1942 by a Los Angeles wallpaper company, CW Stockwell, in collaboration with illustrator Albert Stockdale and canonized a few years later by its installation at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Adapting such a storied motif would be intimidating for anyone, but when CW Stockwell CEO Katy Polsby suggested as much to George Venson, founder of the New York textiles studio Voutsa, he was game.

Launching this month, Martinique Celebration skillfully mines that history while making the most of a turbulent year. Polsby provided Venson with rolls of Martinique Encore, a 2019 reimagining of the original banana-leaf pattern in fresh new bicolor hues. The papers acted as a substrate onto which Venson, who is trained as a fine artist, overpainted layers of gestural brushstrokes. These were then digitally printed in five unique patterns, all named in homage to the artists who inspired them: Henri Matisse, David Hockney, Werner Herzog, Josef Frank—and Dr. Seuss. “It is a complex pattern with a rich history,” says Venson, who is known for his adventurous designs. “I knew I couldn’t be arbitrary. I couldn’t make mistakes.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of CW Stockwell and Voutsa
Photo credit: Courtesy of CW Stockwell and Voutsa

He and Polsby started the project in January 2020, agreeing from the outset to its cheerful name. Then came the pandemic. But even during the long months of quarantine, with Venson working solo in his studio, the upbeat spirit of the endeavor kept them going. “We knew it would feel amazing when it came to fruition,” Polsby says. “And it really does.” $200 per yard for wallpaper, $300 per yard for fabric, with trade pricing available.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

This story originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of ELLE Decor. SUBSCRIBE

You Might Also Like