This weekend, The HighBoy will be in Chicago for the Antiques, Garden & Design show at the Chicago Botanic Garden. And we’re showing off a surprising—and gorgeous—take on botanicals for your walls: Fromental wallpaper’s Paradiso line.
Chosen by interior designer Jessica Lagrange (who created our booth’s handsome look), Fromental’s Paradiso line shows off a modern take on 18th-century chinoiserie. Bamboo contrasts beautifully against bold pops of color amidst a rhythmic floral design.
Fromental is one of our favorite examples of a design-centric company that marries historically rich ideas with modern-day sensibilities. The exquisite wallcoverings—handpainted and then embroidered in fine silk and metallic threads by artisans in Suzhou, China—pay homage to the long history of humanity’s love affair with silk and to Europeans’ long-held devotion to Oriental objects and images.
Silk has enchanted design-lovers for millennia: Chinese legend tells us that in the 27th century BC, Empress His Ling Shi was sipping her tea under a mulberry tree when a cocoon fell into her cup and unraveled. Enthralled, the Empress discovered the threads came from the Bombyx mori silkworm, which made its home in the white mulberry, and developed sericulture, the raising of silkworms for silk production. Silk’s popularity spread through Asia and eventually reached Europe, where the Byzantines made much of the luxurious fabric starting around the 6th century AD. Through the next millennium, European nations would scramble to outdo one another in the production and use of the finest silk.
Chinoiserie has a more recent love affair with western tastemakers. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans developed a fondness for Chinese images and objects—a desire both driven and satisfied by the Chinese-made products that arrived via the East India shipping companies. Soon, the grandest European interiors showed off Chinese screens, hangings, and pictures—a trend that gave birth to a strong market for wallpaper that displayed indigenous imagery, such as flowering trees, plants, rocks, birds, and, on occasion, human forms in gardens.
And as Fromental’s breathtaking designs prove, the demand for delicate, handmade wallcoverings continues today—and that’s a tradition well worth celebrating.
Get an up-close look at Fromental’s work at our booth this weekend, April 17-19, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Chicago Botanic Garden.