Inside The Coolest BK Studio That's Bringing Wallpaper Back

Maybe you haven't heard, but wallpaper is back. Your grandma's kitchen no longer has the trend cornered, and everyone from Mike D to W Hotels is now showcasing one-of-a-kind, off-the-wall designs. So, where did they get them? The answer would be Brooklyn-based Flavor Paper.
We dare anyone to stroll past their steel exterior on Pacific St. and not be intrigued. The tall glass door reveals a long room with the longest printing press ever and a miasma of splattered paint colors on the floor. Yeah, they make wallpaper — but it's the most insanely awesome wallpaper ever.From the impressive printing studio to the Dexter-esque screen-cleaning room, prepare yourself for the ultimate color-filled tour, ahead.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
After climbing up a dark stairwell, clients walk into an expansive showroom that houses three super-sized wallpaper rolodexes.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs. Andy Warhol x Flavor Paper designs: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Jon Sherman, founder and creative director

What attracted you to wallpaper when you decided to revive the company?
"Well, I've always loved a lot of color on walls and spaces in general. The original company was started in Oregon in 1970 and stopped producing sometime in the '80s. I purchased the company around 2003 and took it to New Orleans before later relocating in the building today in Brooklyn, in 2009. While we were getting started, I was doing interior design and working on an apartment in Miami, and there were all these expansive white walls. I thought it'd be amazing if there was a geometric pop of something patterned in this room. So, I ended up jumping on that (idea), and it was one of the very first prints we did."

Are you seeing a huge resurgence of people using wallpaper in interior design?
"Definitely. That was one of my approaches from the get-go. It had always been stigmatized as being this difficult thing to deal with — so permanent. The first year we showed was in 2004 at ICFF, and there was only one other wallpaper company there. Now, there's tons popping up. We do feel we were big in helping change that train of thought. The younger interior designers in New York were very receptive. They were like, 'Metallic! It's so much cheaper than a mirror and easier to install.'"
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
What was your previous background before starting the company?
"My background is all over the place, but at that time (before rescuing the original Flavor Paper), I was pretty much in equity and real-estate development. I've always gone back and forth between the artistic side and business. I worked in the music industry and then as a private chef and a DJ."

Can you tell us about the creative process from your angle?
"On any given day, we're working on 12 to 15 different things concurrently. Right now, we're doing something that's a custom orange-print scratch 'n' sniff. We're also doing five to 10 different digital custom prints that range from photographs blown up to murals to just simple stripes. You never know. Usually the wildest designer wants the tamest print.

For one of the custom prints we're doing, we scanned a fabric, made it a repeating pattern, changed the scale to make it a digital wallpaper and then took the basis of that, and turned it into a geometric pattern that will be laminated to a dresser and finally lacquered. So, you literally never know what it'll be turned into."
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Clare Colton, sales and showroom manager

What do you love about your job?
"Once we come out with a new pattern, we do a bunch of color tests to see what looks best and then pick four we really like. I love working working with clients because everything is print to order — the options are endless. It can be daunting to some people, but narrowing it down and helping their vision come to life is awesome."

How are people's relationships to wallpaper changing from the sales side?
"Everyone's view is changing to seeing that it's more of an art piece, not so much an afterthought or background. People are building around the designs themselves. We get a lot of people who come in and say they want to design the wallpaper and then everything else around it. And, there are some people who are not there yet so it's fun to push them a bit. Then they end up loving it. The murals have really taken off. "
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
What other cool things can people do than just putting the paper directly on the walls?
"Clients have covered floors. Someone came in and said she really wanted to install wallpaper in a different way — she wanted to buy a roll and have it hanging at the bottom, like an installation. People have done polyurethaned furniture. Some even frame the artwork."
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.


What's it like working with such a tight team of nine?
"It's so great because most people live in the building. Josh and Blake live upstairs with their families so their kids come down and hang out sometimes. It's a very grounded environment. When it gets warm out, there's the rooftop upstairs to sit."
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Blake Findlay, general manager

What's your favorite latest project?
"The most recent Warhol collaboration was super exciting for us. We're still glowing from that a little bit. Being able to play with that archive of art was incredible. He was very prolific and a bit of a pack rat as well. They spent the last 10 years putting it all in a database."

Can you tell us what's one of the most rewarding aspects of this line of work?
"I love the big installations, but having it in people's home and seeing how psyched they are for that whole transformation piece is really the most rewarding thing."
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
What's your own design aesthetic?
"I have two little kids, so generally it's just chaos. But, my background workwise was at Apple computer and helping the design the stores. You couldn't help but absorb that aesthetic. I like to mix it up though; I'm not a slave to modern design, definitely more interested in what is comfortable rather than sleek. Eclectic is always overused, but for me it's about texture and pattern and creating the thing as your own. My design choices are closely linked to my kids: 'Are they going to wreck it, and does it come in pink (for my daughter)?'"
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Nightclub or wallpaper studio? We're sure some neighbors have wondered which.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Evan Raney, print production manager and designer

Can you tell us a little bit about how you landed at Flavor Paper?
"My background is in graphic design, and I was at various places in New York before. I realized I didn't want to be spending so much time at a computer and had alway been interested in graphic design. I knew about Flavor Paper from college and was going to the gym around the corner. Serendipitously, I walked past, found out they were moving to New York, and met with Jon and Blake."
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
What's your home like? Do you have any wallpaper?
"It's funny, I don't. You don't really want to look at wallpaper. It's like a chef doesn't want to go home and start cooking. But, if I owned a home, I probably would."

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
"My former jobs were all based in graphic design — I studied typography, so I have a strong graphic, visual sense. I was always drawn to things that were handmade and hand drawn."
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Your wallpaper design, "Snake Bit," is showing at ICFF (The International Contemporary Furniture Fair). Can you tell us about the inspiration?
"I've always been into animals and things that come from nature, and incorporating them more graphically with architecture. These are horse-bit silhouettes [picture at right] — the actual bits going into the horse jaw. It was just a collaboration with my old photographs, and I always wanted to do something with the skeleton photo."

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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
We'll take several rolls, please.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Mirrors on the ceiling allows the printers to make sure everything is lined up properly on opposite sides of the screens.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
One print design can often receive as many as 12 to 14 impressions of color on top of each other.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
The floor is a work of art itself.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Some legit Kelly-green color coordinating going on in this Dexter-meets-American Psycho tribute room.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
When we visited, the crew was printing sheets of this Chinatown toile design. Mike D designed his own Brooklyn version with scenes and characters from his 'hood.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
The back of the studio has an homage to Ted, the man who started it all in Portland back in 1970.
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
Also in the back studio — an art student's dream.
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