FEATURING 3 OF THE TOP WALL COVERING BRANDS: DE GOURNAY; MS DESIGN STUDIO; FROMENTAL
A BRIEF HISTORY OF DE GOURNAY: The story of de Gournay wall papers began in the early 18th century, when a Frenchman named Jean-Baptiste Pillement visited China and became fascinated by the art and culture of the country; Pillement began designing wallpaper inspired by Chinese motifs, and his designs quickly gained popularity in Europe…
In 1753, having returned to France, a noblewoman named Jeanne Baptiste d’Albert de Luynes married the successful banker Louis-Michel le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, and the couple commissioned Pillement to create wallpaper for their home in Paris. The wallpaper, which featured birds, flowers, and foliage in a Chinese-inspired style, was a huge success, and soon other wealthy Parisians were clamoring for similar designs. In the 1780s, the de Gournay family, who were prominent merchants in the luxury goods trade, began producing their own Chinese-inspired wallpaper designs inspired by Pillement’s; the de Gournay wallpaper was similarly hand-painted, using the original techniques that had been used in China for centuries, and it quickly gained a reputation for its superior quality and beauty.
Over the next two centuries, de Gournay wallpapers were commissioned by leading designers and went on to be installed in some of the world’s most prestigious homes, including the Palace of Versailles, the White House, and Buckingham Palace. Today, de Gournay remains a leading manufacturer of luxury wallpaper, and their designs continue to be hand-painted using traditional techniques.
MEET MS DESIGN STUDIO: Spring is the perfect time to redecorate and refresh and, in the lead up to the Easter break, here we meet Magdalena Smielewski, founder of the wall covering producer MS Design Studio…
ON SPRING: ”Spring is my favourite time of the year; for me, it’s a synonym for a fresh start and new beginnings. In general, the spring season is often associated with renewal and growth, both in nature and in our personal and professional lives. With the end of winter, I feel more energized and optimistic, which of course leads to increased creativity and productivity in my workplace. It’s the time of the year when I always design a few new collections as I can feel increased productivity and a renewed sense of energy and motivation. Spring is also a time when many businesses and industries begin to pick up after the slower winter months; for example, in the interior design industry, spring always means an increase in sales as people start to decorate their houses due to the warmer weather…”
ON EASTER: “Easter is a very important holiday in Poland, where I’m from, and it’s celebrated in a number of ways; I take time off work to relax and spend a few days with family and friends. One of the most distinctive Polish traditions is the blessing of the Easter baskets. On Holy Saturday, families bring baskets filled with foods to their local church to be blessed by the priest; these baskets typically include items such as bread, eggs, ham, sausage, and salt, and they’re often decorated with colourful ribbons and sprigs of greenery. Another important tradition is the Easter Sunday breakfast, which is a large feast featuring many of the foods that were blessed the day before. Polish celebrations also often include the custom of Śmigus-Dyngus, or ‘Wet Monday’. On the day after Easter Sunday, people often playfully splash each other with water, symbolizing the renewal and cleansing of the spring season…”
ON INSPIRATION: ”I love all gardens, however there are two that I have a special fondness for; when I was a studying at Cambridge, I liked to visit London in the summer and spend time at Kew Gardens. In addition to the fact that it is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, I have a special sentiment for it because I’ve spent many magical moments there…”
Kew Gardens is home to over 50,000 living plants, making it one of the most diverse botanical gardens in the world; the gardens feature an extensive collection of rare and exotic species, as well as a wide variety of plants from different regions and climates – I love strolling through the grounds and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature…”Magdalena Smielewski, MS Design Studio
“For me, Kew Gardens has stunning natural beauty and a tranquil atmosphere; the gardens are carefully curated to create a peaceful and immersive environment that allows me to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. I love strolling through the grounds and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, including the many different plants and flowers, the ponds and streams, and the various wildlife that call the gardens home. It’s particularly beautiful in the spring and summer months when many of the plants are in bloom, creating a riot of colors and fragrances. Kew Gardens also has several quiet areas and secluded spots where visitors can relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings – these include ’Waterlily House’, the ‘Bamboo Garden’, and the ‘Arboretum’, among others. There’s also a treetop walkway that provides stunning views of the gardens and surrounding landscape. Overall, Kew Gardens is a beautiful and tranquil place that offers me a chance to connect with nature and find some peace and relaxation in the heart of London…”
“Another very special garden for me is the ‘Jardin Majorelle’ in Marrakesh, also known as the ‘Yves Saint Laurent Garden’; for me, it’s a special place that combines beauty, tranquility, and unique cultural heritage. The garden was originally created by French painter Jacques Majorelle, who drew inspiration from the colors and landscapes of North Africa; later it was purchased and restored by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, who were both fascinated by the culture and beauty of Morocco. What makes it so special for me is the unforgettable smell which you can experience only there; it’s a unique combination of the sweet, delicate scent of jasmine, damask rose – which is known for its strong, floral scent – and the lemon and orange trees, which emit a fresh and invigorating scent. I call it the fragrance of my magical Jardin Majorelle – a unique and delightful blend of floral scents that fill the air with a sense of beauty and tranquility. Thankfully, I can enjoy it now all year around as the last time I was in Marrakesh I bought myself ‘Jardin Majorelle’ eau de parfum, so I always carry with me the unique scent of my favourite garden…”
ABOVE: ‘Jardin Majorelle’ fragrance; ’Jardin Majorelle’ framed print by Simon Watson
MS DESIGN STUDIO VISUALS THROUGHOUT: Greg Osada-Jablonski