I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful lecture by Joyce Romanoff, President of Maya Romanoff handmade wallcoverings in March. I’ve been admiring this exceptional wallcovering company’s products since I first saw their three dimensional Beadazzled™ wallcovering back in the late 80’s, when I attended one of the Design Houses at the Washington DC Design Center. They have since expanded this line to include Bauble, Geode, Leaf, Leaf Rain, Bijou and Marquetry. In fact, any image can be “bedazzled” with hand applying glass beads over the surface. It’s quite stunning and looks like a beautiful, beaded ball gown.
All of their wallcoverings are handmade in some way — by fabrication and or applying a decorative finish. We watched one of the Maya Romanoff artisans show us a step-by-step demonstration of two different treatments. Many of the Maya Romanoff workers have been with the company for generations and the business is family run. I was surprised how similar the techniques were to what I and other decorative painters use for wall treatments. The difference is everyone has their own “special” ingredients for their paint wash and the substrates may be different. In this case, the first finish, not unlike a brushed-on, sponged-off treatment with highlights, was applied over a clay-coated, crumpled, vinyl wallpaper.
I can put all my cardboard mailing tubes to good use as a special tool used for sealing the finish.
The final result glistens. It looks wet but dries quickly with the clay treatment. It is installed flat but the crinkles and pockets of pooled pigment give the impression of a marble-like appearance.
The second finish was applied over hand applied wood veneer panels, tiled as wallcovering, which almost seemed too beautiful to retouch.
This beautiful wallpaper can also be installed as ceiling tiles and with that little extra glint of crystal. Get the super glue. Yes, Swarovski crystals can be applied.
Maya Romanoff has quite a progressive history — having been around since 1969, when Maya, the company’s founder, reproduced his tie dyes as wallcovering. He is quite a successful hippie. Since then, they have led the way for producing the largest amount of handmade wallcovering, which requires a traditional and professionally installation. They also have helped to employ and bring work to help several impoverished countries’ economies and have been given a lifetime humanitarian achievement award for their efforts.
Besides admiring their gorgeous wallcoverings and this company’s ethics, I can completely resonate with their philosophy:
• They encourage creativity and risk taking while remaining true to business guiding principals.
• With wall décor trends becoming more luxurious for residential and hospitality, they want their wallcoverings to have fine attention to detail without taking over a room but becoming organic with its surroundings and beautifully blend in.
• They encourage their artisan creations to have the spontaneity and energy of a work of art.
• They promote hand painted vinyl and realize wallcovering is not just for walls anymore and can be used on a multitude of surfaces.
• Wallcoverings can be “green” with sustainable materials, longevity, and low VOC. Many of their wallcoverings will long outlive paint.
• Their goal is to put the handcrafted back into value and balance handcrafted techniques with machine and technological production.
Although Casart coverings does not have or could not afford to have this type of handcrafted production, we have designs that have been originally handcrafted. Our wallcovering materials, however, are not handmade and require machines and technology but the two do marry to create our final product. And of course, our wallcovering is removable and reusable and like Maya Romanoff’s can also be customized. We like this personalization part of our business. It keeps us close with our customers and helps us make an even more exceptional product to suit their needs. At present, we are really the only reusable wallcovering company offering such extensive custom services.
All those who attended the lecture received a personal email from Joyce afterwards thanking us for coming and extending the invitation to visit their Chicago production facility. Next time I am there, I certainly will. My fascination and admiration continues and even more so, after sadly learning that Maya now has advanced stage Parkinson’s Disease, so many of their charitable efforts go toward this funding.
Take a look at the Maya Romanoff website; they continue to be a source of inspiration. They have so many more incredibly wondrous wallcoverings using stitched leather, capiz shell, copper, gold leaf, even an hand painted vinyl called Raw Silk, (like we do but ours is hand painted and then printed) that it will make you ask, “How did they do that?”