Sian Zeng is a London-based artist who specializes in magnetic wallpaper designs—and she just won the grand prize in Etsy’s first-ever Global Design Award. As the grand prize winner, Zeng was awarded $15,000, along with international recognition for her designs. According to Etsy’s announcement on Tuesday, her best-selling magnetic dinosaur print “impressed the international judging panel with its sophistication and playfulness.”
If you’ve never heard of magnetic wallpaper, the concept is fairly simple—but also completely genius. Zeng uses hand-drawn illustrations to design wallpaper that has a magnetic backing. Once the wallpaper is put up, magnets stick directly to the wall.
Courtesy of Veerle Evans/Etsy
Zeng first came up with her now-signature product while she was still in design school at Central Saint Martins in London. She designed a wallpaper illustrated with fairytale scenes and created separate magnetic figures that could be moved around the wall to tell stories. “I wanted to create interactive magnetic wallpaper that would let people tell their stories using a set of characters,” she told the Associated Press.
But while the idea was well-received, it was too costly to produce without a buyer. Luckily, she eventually found one about seven years ago—and it was none other than Hilary Duff. According to a 2017 feature article from Etsy, Zeng’s concept was featured on several blogs and design sites. And while Zeng wasn’t actively selling her wallpaper designs yet in 2012, the actress’ interior designer had seen the idea and reached out asking if Zeng would create a design for Duff’s son’s nursery.
After that, Zeng began actively designing and selling her wallpaper to more people, focusing on designs for children. Her magnetic dinosaur wallpaper is her best selling product, and it comes with a selection of individual magnetic designs to stick onto the wall, making it a popular choice for wallpapering children’s rooms.
The dinosaur wallpaper is the design she submitted to Etsy’s Design Awards back in May, and the judges loved it.
Courtesy of Veerle Evans/Etsy
“Magnetic wallpaper for children is fresh, innovative and also opens up a whole new world of creative play while also appealing to parents who love design and wish to expose their children to inspiring surroundings early on,” said Holly Becker, design expert, and contest judge. “This is an absolutely brilliant product!”
Fashion designer and judge Anavila Misra called the wallpaper “a beautiful combination of design and utility, coupled with customer engagement” in Etsy’s press release. And it's clear her customers think so too: Her Etsy store SianZeng has more than 650 sales since it first opened in 2009.
The wallpaper doesn't come pre-pasted, but customers in the UK do have the option to add the paste to their order. Putting up wallpaper can be intimidating if you've never done it before, but our wallpapering tutorial can help you hang it like a pro. If you're not sure how much you'll need, reach out to Zeng on Etsy with the dimensions of your room and she'll help you determine how much to order.