When Jon Sherman heard an Oregon-based wallpaper company was going out of business and had plans to burn all of its equipment in 2003, he decided to buy it. He gave it the cheeky name Flavor Paper and turned the now Brooklyn-based company into one that puts a contemporary spin on traditional designs using eco-friendly processes.
“We try to tackle every type of historic wallpaper concept and then flip it around and flavor it up,” Sherman tells House Beautiful. Through both hand-screened and digitally-printed methods, Flavor Paper’s wallcoverings look classic at first glance and unconventional when you get up close—whether it’s through content, humor, color, texture, scaling, or even scent (yes, the company has a scratch-and-sniff collection!).
Before Sherman took over, the company was using “very solvent-based, deadly inks,” he says. As an environmental science major in college, Sherman decided to switch to water-based hand-screened printing right away. All of the company’s wallpapers are made to order, too, so they never have back stock they need to offload. Plus, any scraps they might throw away are sent to schools instead.
Creating a wallpaper design can take anywhere from hours to years, depending on what the client wants. For hand-screened wallpaper—once the artwork is all set—the Flavor Paper team gets to work making a film positive using bright light, which basically turns it into a stencil for the design.
When the screen is ready, Flavor Paper mixes its own ink for the design—which allows the company to easily customize the wallpaper for any client. People can interchange colors in a design or request new ones. “We've matched everything from pieces of fabric, to purses, to shavings off of very expensive, rare carpets,” Sherman says. “It really allows people to create something uniquely theirs that speaks to their aesthetic and their personality.”
With the colors and screens ready to go, the Flavor Paper team prints the design in an alternating fashion. “We can’t print over things that aren’t dry, so we’ll print all of the even impressions and come back and fill in all of the odd impressions,” Sherman says. In between impressions, a heater dries the design layer by layer.
It’s a thoughtful process with endless possibilities. “To me, the fun and engaging part of wallpaper is continuing to evolve what wallpaper can be or should be; showing people how different it can be and what it can do for their space and their world; and also just having fun with it," he says. Now that's an attitude we can get behind.
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