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New ways for walls

The latest wallpapers have graceful Jim Thompson fabric patterns and funny, funky art. The choice is amazing

Publication Date : 28-05-2012


Among the many things homeowners learned during last year's flooding was that wallpaper doesn't like water, at least once it's on the wall. The fungus that grew beneath the paper was scary for some and frustrating for everyone.

A lot of people switched to wall decals, so easy to apply - just peel off the adhesive strip and smooth them on the wall and you've got a new room.

But the flood disaster didn't shrink wallpaper's popularity, says Prinda Puranananda of Cowperthwaite & Puranananda Designers. "In fact it's remained a popular choice for Thais despite the flooding," she says, "since they've had to pay more attention to interior design and decided how they actually they want their homes to look.

"The flooding situation didn't affect Thais' views on interior design or their choosing wallpaper." They're not worried about possible future floods, adds Prinda. "It's silly to be scared of what has yet to come."

Jim Thompson, the globally famous silk firm, has even expanded into the wallpaper business with a "House on the Klong" collection designed to enhance its fine home furnishings. Interior designers have often used Jim Thompson's printed fabrics as wall coverings - now there's actual Jim Thompson wallpaper.

The collection consists of seven classic, elegant designs printed on paper by Anstey Wallpaper of England, famous for its high quality and previously tapped for Ralph Laurent furniture.

One of the designs, called "Jim's Dream", features a celebrated weaving scene copied from one of founder Jim Thompson's favourite paintings. Once mounted, the wallpaper looks like a traditional Siamese mural.

Another pattern, "The Mekong", is printed on heavier six-ply matte paper in eight different colours. "The Ikat" was inspired by the 19th-century Central Asian "flower in vase" design.

All of these will be familiar patterns to connoisseurs of Jim Thompson fabrics.

"During the design process, we selected the textile patterns, colours and materials that best reflected the essence of Jim Thompson, which is contemporary," says assistant international marketing manager Sasaya Buranasatidporn. "Decorators can pair the wallpaper with other Jim Thompson products to revitalise a home, condominium or hotel in any style - American, European or Asian."

Two examples of East-meets-West design are "Byzantine" and "Imari". The latter, in seven colours, was inspired by Japanese hand-made paper and white porcelain. The floral pattern on "Byzantine" derives from Turkey, where Europe meets Asia.

Meanwhile Cholakarn Visutipitakul of Bodhi Tree Decor began offering wallpaper of a different but equally appealing kind at last year's Bangkok International Gift and Houseware Fair. It's custom-made and lively with playful original graphics.

"The funky graphics are very new and different for the market," Cholakarn says. "People want more uniqueness these days, so flexibility is a selling point. We give them the freedom to match colours and adjust details according to their own ideas."

Cholakarn decided to make wallpaper of her own after failing to find a suitable fit for her home shrine room. She'd worked in advertising for 13 years and was often dismayed by the restrictions clients imposed on her creativity, so she was keen to be inventive with a new wall covering for the market.

The flood crisis had no effect on her business, which continues to boom in the premium sector.

Her products take her on road shows to design fairs in Dubai and Hong Kong, and she's creating wallpaper for five-star hotels opening in Osaka, Shanghai, Dubai and Pattaya. At the same time she has orders coming in from restaurants, spas and hospitals around the world.

To ensure top quality, Cholakarn uses only the best papers, vinyl and colours, all imported from Europe. Her eco-friendly production process makes the paper safe for children as well as durable and water-resistant. It doesn't discolour, it doesn't burn, and you can scrub it clean.

The Bodhi Tree Decor catalogue offers virtually any kind of wallpaper you can imagine - hundreds of shades and thousand of graphic designs, including cartoons, nature and fashion. Zero in on the category that matches your lifestyle.

"Oriental Living" and "Spiritual Living" are tranquil and calm with characters from the Ramakien, traditional massage poses and delicate classical Thai motifs (Cholakarn reduces the motif detail "to make them more modern").

Youngsters' imagination will get a boost from the "Circus" wallpaper with its colourful animals and the "Kids Living" bedroom themes.

"Art Living" features letters of the alphabet, world maps and geometric patterns. The selection for women is full of dots, stripes, peacock feathers, rain drops and flowers, while "Arabian Living" shows charming Middle Eastern architecture.

The prices range from 600 to 2,000 baht (US$18 to $63) per square metre, depending on the pattern.

"The new generation of interior designers have become more daring and bold," says Prinda. "The use of high-quality and over-the-top products has become increasingly popular. Upholstered furniture is widely admired.

"And, most importantly, modern designers' choice of wallpaper is no longer limited to plain colours but is full of decorative patterns. 'Less is more' is now an outmoded concept - 'More is much better' is the new trend."


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