We challenged Olga Naiman, whose interiors firm Spatial Alchemy specializes in the intersection of design and mental wellbeing (and who happens to be the daughter of two psychiatrists), to pull together vignettes using four new out-of-the-box wallpapers and to channel the creative minds of the artists who dream them up.
The painter and illustrator Happy Menocal straddles the Old World and the contemporary with an enchanting sensibility and a sly wit. Long the go-to source for it-brides everywhere for her bespoke stationery, she put the modern coat of arms on the map. To capture this, Naiman channeled a playful, aristo-whimsical vibe, homing in first on the blue candelabra, which sparked associations with Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast and ancient French fairy tales. The carved console came next, followed by the lion sculpture for how it echoes heraldic creatures. “I often start a scheme with an anchor object,” says Naiman. “It’s like tuning a radio—once I’ve identified that first object, I’ve found my station, and then I stay plugged into that frequency.” Beasts wallpaper by Happy Menocal for Schumacher, fschumacher.com. Console by Mike Diaz, krbnyc.com. Vase and lamp, aerostudios.com. Lion sculpture, dienstanddotter.com.
The photographer Liz Nielsen produces luminous, genre-defying images that evoke a sense of wonder. With hand-crafted negatives and no camera, Nielsen uses color and light to explore the boundaries of what is known and not known, and the edges of what is fixed and what is ephemeral. To evoke this otherworldly feel, Naiman began with a plexiglass table for its transparent, here-not-here quality, and layered in glass and lacquered-metal pieces that seem as if they’re floating, including an Alvar Aalto vase with a wave-like, amorphous shape. “The mirrored clock riffs on the fourth dimension, time,” Naiman says. The overall effect is one of an interdimensional, space- and time-shifting reality. Agave Stripe wallpaper by Liz Nielsen/Peg Norriss for Schumacher, Moderne Console Table, fschumacher.com.
London-based fashion designers Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro’s artful approach to high style merges pared-down forms with fearless color and pattern. This yin-yang pull also undergirds one of their favorite design aesthetics, Scandinavian modernism—for its understated economy, yes, but also for how, as Clements puts it, that era’s delirious prints “are a bit mad and off-the-wall.” Naiman selected a handmade lamp that is at once expressive and serene, adding midcentury glassware in muted jewel tones that rhyme with the wallpaper’s hues. The spare teak console grounds the setting with an earthy, organic note. Daisy Chain wallpaper by Clements Ribeiro for Schumacher, fschumacher.com. Opera Lamp, aerostudios.com.
Deeply informed by her passion for the history of style, artist Cristina Buckley (who is also the design director at Schumacher) reimagines classic tropes to invent new patterns and motifs with an edgy formality. To conjure a Studio 54–meets-preppy vibe, Naiman juxtaposed hard and soft elements and kept the palette tight. “In a high-glam scenario,” she explains, “the components need to have very strong relationships. One way to do that is to make it monotone.” Brass and leather objects in spare forms play against luxe velvet; the symmetry of the composition balances it all out. Fancy Beast wallpaper by Cristina Buckley for Schumacher, Empress Performance Velvet, fschumacher.com. Obelisk, mecox.com.