As you all know, I am partial to wallpaper. Sometimes when I'm driving along Beverly Boulevard I find myself uncontrollably veering into a parking space in front of Walnut. Their gorgeous selection of patterns, colors and textures -- from companies such as Cole and Son, Allegra Hicks, Neisha Crosland, and Osborne and Little -- never fail to set my head spinning (and make driving home an especially tricky task).
But I must confess a mad and desperate love for the cheeky designs of Timorous Beasties. I used "Thistle" in my kitchen, so when my friend Claire informed me she had just hung their "London Toile" in her powder room, I grabbed my camera and raced lickety-split up the hairpin turns to her fabulous home in the Hollywood Hills.
I fell to my knees when I saw it. I know that's rather a dramatic gesture, but it felt entirely appropriate at the time.
From a distance, you expect to see twee scenes of peasants frolicking in an Arcadian garden...
but get up close and you are treated to urban idylls...
...and teenage malaise.
Other vignettes in the pattern depict a Sikh meditating on a bench, a chic mum wheeling a massive Silver Cross pram, a City businessman on a cellphone and a group of rebellious skateboarders.
I love it because it's a triple threat: modern wallpaper that's also art that's also social commentary. (In perhaps their boldest move, there's also a man holding a gun.) It's subversive, it's unsettling and the images linger in your brain long after you've seen them. One critic recently described their work as "William Morris on acid"; another as "Damian Hirst on Ovaltine."
According to Alastair McAuley, (who, along with Paul Simmons, is one of the founder/designers), "[Some of] the imagery in the French toiles from the 18th century is actually quite shocking. They have scenes of workers womanizing, smoking and drinking. What we've done is update the imagery."
And again from McAuley: "I guess our typical customer would be someone about our age or a little older [both were born in 1967], perhaps imbued with a punk ethos, who wants their home to express something more interesting than IKEA minimalism."