I have been waiting for the right time to share this Pattern Occurring Feature. Last year I had the good fortune of visiting the studio of SJW and meeting the creatives behind the Seattle based wallpaper company. I have always been totally obsessed with wallpaper so you can imagine my delight when I was invited to the SJW print studio. My visit was such a pleasant one and i felt so excited to see behind the scenes and see how the handmade papers are produced. Thank you Aaron and Kathryn for being such a delight and letting me poke around.
Anne Marie - Tell me a little about the business and it's origins?
Aaron - SJW Studios was started by the original owners in 1981 with a basic wrinkled paper in 15 colors, and continued to expand over the years. I started working for them in 1999 as operations manager, running the business, basically doing everything except making the wallpaper - orders, working with all the showrooms that represent the line, working with designers, etc.
Last year they decided to retire from the wallpaper business and offered it to me, so I purchased it in December 2012. Once it became mine, I also started making the wallpaper along with everything else. I now have the wonderful opportunity to create whatever I want and am excited to bring my personal style Into it, and infuse new energy into the business. As you saw when you visited the studio, Kathryn and I have more ideas than time, so we have our work cut out for us!
Anne Marie - What has it been like working with huge clients such as Ted Baker and Kelly Wearstler?
Aaron - It's always exciting working with big name designers, maybe because there's often the possibility of their projects being published. It's always a thrill to see my wallpaper in a magazine. Kelly Wearstler is incredibly innovative in how she uses materials. Last year she used our handpainted stripe Mary Kay in an wild design on a foyer ceiling, right here on Mercer Island. That house was published last year in Elle Decor.
Aaron - Our work with Ted Baker started about 10 years ago when the CEO, Ray Kelvin, stayed at the City Club Hotel in NYC, designed by Jeffery Bilhuber, which has our pattern Nikki in the lobby and all the rooms. He asked where it came from, contacted us, then used several of our papers in their stores, including London, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles. They also started selling about 12 of our papers in their London flagship store.
Anne Marie - Where is your favourite place to go for inspiration?
Aaron - The Washington Coast is my favorite place to unwind and get inspired. Just a couple of hours away we have such a gorgeous remote coastline with wide sandy beaches and the wild Pacific Ocean, with that infinite expanse of water that I can stare at for hours. Seabrook is our favorite place to stay, right on the coast, and I always prefer winter over summer, the weather and waves are more intense and dramatic.
Anne Marie - What do you love about your job?
Aaron - Now that SJW Studios is mine, I have relished the creativity that has been unleashed with no limits! I have the opportunity and freedom to take it in any direction I choose, and that is incredibly liberating, with a little stress thrown in for good measure. Making wallpaper can be a messy business, and getting my hands, and clothes, dirty in the process makes me fell invested in every order we make. Hard work, but very rewarding. And hearing from a designer that our wallpaper helped make their project beautiful is always nice.