July 23, 2020
Calico and Charlap Hyman & Herrero Join Forces for an Installation Teeming with Life
The designers have installed a dramatic, crawling landscape of vines in the Gobelin Room at Austria’s Schloss Hollenegg for Design.
It isn’t every day that a designer gets the chance to create a permanent installation in a 12th-century castle. So when architecture studio Charlap Hyman & Herrero (CH&H) was invited to take part in a residency at Austria’s Schloss Hollenegg for Design, founders Adam Charlap Hyman and Andre Herrero jumped at the opportunity.
Every year, Alice Stori Liechtenstein—whose family has owned the property since 1821—pairs designers and manufacturers to participate in an annual exhibition. This year, she brought together CH&H and Brooklyn’s Calico Wallpaper, which is how the designers found themselves standing in the palace, decorating the walls and ceiling of its Gobelin Tapestry Room. Overgrow, a non-repeating wallpaper, was inspired by the lush greenery that creeps up the castle’s walls and spills down from trellises over covered walkways. Charlap Hyman describes the medieval structure as wild and organic. “When we were getting our tour on the first day, Alice kept having to break through vines that had overtaken shutters to open the windows,” he explains. “It really left an impression.”
The design process behind the wallcovering began with a series of watercolors. “We took different elements from Adam’s paintings and expanded them to create a motif on the ceiling, which was a first for us,” says Calico Wallpaper cofounder Nick Cope. While the walls of the room were previously white plaster with Rococo stucco ceilings, the castle is filled with a rich, decorative history of natural motif wallpapers that inspired the installation.
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CH&H was interested in how their wallpaper’s pattern might “soften” the rougher architectural elements. In this sense, surface provided depth: Placing the wallpaper between the room’s ceiling beams created the impression of space beyond the overhead plane.
“A lot of times wallpaper is installed to make something look pretty,” says Charlap Hyman. “We were trying to invert this a little bit.” A closer look at the pattern reveals it is filled with life—the vines appear invasive, and insects crawling throughout are eating each other or copulating. “There is something ominous about it. I think that this darkness implies that this decorative, beautiful way to treat a room can, in a way, foreshadow the [fate of] all spaces. Even something as seemingly permanent as this castle many hundreds of years old will become ruins eventually.”
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