I find things by poking around. I am genetically programmed for this task and it makes me happy. Recently I was asked if I wanted to look through items being emptied from a large house. I dropped everything and rushed over. After some searching, I found something rare that made my heart pound.
Spied – an intriguing label found while poking around.
One item that jumped out at me was the logo on a box full of wallpapers. The graphic double capital “W” was so handsome that it immediately said to me something special was inside. There were brand new rolls of wallpaper silkscreened in the 1960s by Woodson Papers, the premiere mid-century modern manufacturer of silkscreened wallpapers, founded by Woodson Taulbee. As I understand it, Woodson Taulbee was interior designer Billy Baldwin’s one true love. Billy Baldwin designed Woodson Taulbee’s apartment and it became an enduring icon of interior design when it was featured on the cover of his 1972 book, Billy Baldwin Decorates.
It is easy to see that the patterns speak the language of the art movements of the day: Andy Warhol’s colors and patterns, David Hicks’ cross grids and Billy Baldwin’s famous chocolate brown backgrounds contrasted with silver foil patterns.
These Woodson Papers are prime examples of 1960s decorative art at its peak. I imagine them in rooms of streamlined Knoll furniture, or with Edward Wormley’s colorful furniture for Dunbar. Robsjohn-Gibbings could have featured them in his decorative schemes behind a chest or framed as part of a door by Tommi Parzinger. Framing and placing these silkscreen wallpapers on a wall makes them art – a very Warholesque idea of appropriation. It is thrilling to see creative ideas survive as good as new after fifty or more years.
Billy Baldwin “B” spied on another box of wallpaper.
View our collection of vintage wallpaper.