Not Your Grandmother’s Wallpaper

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Did you hear? Wallpaper is back, baby! Whether you're still not totally sold on the re-emergence of this nostalgic trend or are all aboard the wallpaper train, sustainability and design are increasingly walking hand-in-hand into homes everywhere.

The new "Biophilia" wallpaper collection by Eso Studio, which uses discarded plants and botanicals from local sources to create naturally dyed textiles, is a prime example of taking an old trend and implementing a sustainable (and modern) twist.

The Grand Rapids-based trio of surface and textile designers behind Eso Studio—Ann Cole, Hannah Amodeo and Jamie Crawford—are passionate about capturing a feeling and celebrating the perfect imperfections that occur through the handmade process.

"Although it's important to consider relevant trends in interior design, we approach our work as visual artists first," said Cole. "We want people to have an emotional reaction to our patterns. I'm always inspired by the fleeting moments in nature ... like the wind blowing a delicate pattern into the sand. How can we bring that experience into a space?"

The wallpaper is sold by customizable made-to-order panel heights rather than the traditional continuous 30' roll, resulting in less overall waste and easier calculation and installation. It's also printed by a local printing company and dyed with materials that would otherwise be trashed, prolonging their life cycle. The studio partners with several local florists—like Hyssop Floral, Ludema's Floral & Garden, and Posh Petals—to collect flowers that are unable to be sold. The studio also collects food scraps like onion skins and avocado stones from Amodeo's family's restaurant, Real Food Cafe.


"Connecting with these local businesses and seeing how interested and excited they are about their materials being repurposed has been really rewarding," said Amodeo. "There's so much beauty left in these items that are otherwise considered trash."

Consumers are becoming more aware that their buying choices have an impact on the environment, the trio notes.

"With our backgrounds in the textile industry, it's hard to ignore the price our planet is paying for long and widely-used unsustainable dye and production practices," said Crawford. "Thankfully, many companies are taking actionable steps to help minimize their production pollution and waste—and we want to be right there with them! We want to create beautiful things, but we want to create them in a conscious way, even if our impact is small."

Though there's often hesitation around choosing wallpaper, this isn't your grandmother's wallpaper—materials and patterns have evolved with the times, even coming prepasted for quick install and easy removal.

In terms of aesthetics, wallpaper goes a step further than simply hanging a piece of art on a wall, according to the trio. It creates an atmosphere that reflects your personality. Because we're directly influenced by our environments, a statement wall or room can evoke a sense of peace, improve mood or inspire creativity.

In the spirit of a brighter future, take the plunge and give your walls the sustainable refresh they're craving.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

This article originally appeared in the Apr/May 2021 issue of West Michigan Woman.

Photos courtesy of Eso Studio.


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