Style Timeline: Maya Romanoff
**NOTE: I pulled this off of MR’s website, so I’ll need to get permission. I doubt that will be an issue.**Maya Romanoff, circa 1969, draped in one of his earliest tie-dye creations. After studying art and anthropology at UC Berkeley, he took off for France and North Africa, where he apprenticed in couture textile design, eventually elevating tie-dye to an art worthy of high fashion status.
The Weathered Walls collection debuted in 1979 as the first paper in Romanoff’s portfolio after a decade of textile design and installation art. The papers are hand-painted with saturated dyes in a design intended to mimic the look of aged leather. This red room, designed by John Saladino, features the brightest hue in the collection, called Candy Apple, and pairs with a sofa slipcovered in rich leather.
The Ajiro Wood collection, inspired by traditional Japanese woodworking techniques, was introduced in 1996. Bark from sustainably harvested and fast-growing Paulownia trees is “sliced so thin that it is flexible enough to wrap around columns,” quite an engineering feat for an artist!
When you use wallpaper that has won awards for its artistry and has been exhibited in New York’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the New York Museum of Art and Design, and the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, very little else is needed to complete the room. The paper pictured is from Romanoff’s Bedazzled collection, for which 600,000 glass beads are hand-inlaid into an eleven-pound wallpaper panel that reflects light like no other in the industry.
Another intriguing offering from the Bedazzled collection, released in 2003, is the Bedazzled Leaf, which features metallic leaf hand-applied to resemble loose brush strokes that are then adorned with the same tiny glass beads that form the basis for the rest of the collection.
When designers talk about layering textures as they key to making monochromatic and, especially, neutral color schemes work, this is what they’re talking about: There is a lot of rich detail going on here, with the Maya Romanoff Bedazzled Leaf pattern on the draws a standout feature, but the subtlety and luxury of it all works together in perfect harmony.
Maya Romanoff’s bestselling Mother of Pearl collection of wallpaper tiles debuted in 2005 and now contains seven distinct patterns. Hand-crafted in Chicago, this collection lacquers non-endangered shells with a stain-resistant coating suitable for wall or ceiling applications, backsplashes, furniture insets, and more. A newer “flexi” version improves the material’s ability to wrap around columns and tuck into tight corners.
In 2007, following the smashing success of its mother of pearl collection, Maya Romanoff brought in starchitect David Rockwell of Nobu and Canyon Ranch fame to collaborate on what would ultimately become two award-winning collections of textured wallpapers called Blanket, which incorporates felt embellished with stitching, and Stitched, which layers Weathered Wall collection papers with further detail, as pictured.
The Meditations collection was added to Maya Romanoff’s growing repertoire in 2009. The paper in the photo is from the company’s Ohm line, hand-crafted of sustainably harvested Nepalese lokta wood, which is milled at Romanoff’s proprietary mill in Nepal using as little energy as possible, and then flecked with mica and finished in Chicago. The handmade papers used for this collection are the same as those traditionally used by Buddhist monks to transcribe prayer texts.
The lokta wood pulp is actually hand-shaped in Nepal by local artisans using chopsticks. A portion of proceeds goes to Aid to Artisans, an organization that creates economic opportunities for communities “where livelihoods, communities, and craft traditions are marginal or at risk.” Maya Romanoff was deeply influenced by zen buddhism and its effect upon his work is evident in the organic simplicity of his designs.
In 2010, designer Amy Lau was tapped to create a special anniversary collection of three archival tie-dye wallcoverings. Durable paper is folded and immersed in water-based dyes, resulting in subtle patterns with inherent variations, all in an updated palette of earth tones plus a special indigo offering.
Reminiscent of Bennington Pottery’s Blue Agate collection, Romanoff’s Crystal line of their anniversary collection walks the line between hand-crafted tradition and modern aesthetic.
Here, an Anniversary Collection pattern called Snowflake causes a psychedelic stir in this staid coffee nook.
In 2012, Maya Romanoff struck up another creative partnership with Vegas designer Roger Thomas, another art school alum, to create an art-inspired new line of wallcoverings. One of those lines, Tremolo (pictured here in Vermilion Tune) is the essence of artistry, “crafted by an artisan trained in handmade violins.” The collection’s title, tremolo, is a musical term to describe the vibrato achieved by instruments like a violin, and its essence is captured in the wallcovering’s gentle slubs of metallic pigment on vinyl.