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Grandma’s wallpapers

Born in 1973 in Vienna, Austrian ornament designer Nina Levett is best known for her provocative tableware designs and her inspiring works like her Sperm sofa and colourful moveable wallpapers.

Nina Levett starts her working process with a china ink drawing on transparent paper. She simply lets her hand do the work for her. Completely letting go of any thoughts and trusting her visual impulse, her hand follows the visual images her brain produces, anticipating the next step in her drawing process. The finished works are multi-layer artworks with harmonious colours. Her works are usually created using diverse techniques that she produces in-house in her own studio. She entirely controls all steps in the working process from the first drafts to the finished print or porcelain product.

Nina Levett finds inspiration from films like Abel Ferrara’s “Bad Lieutenant”. She says that her work is inspired by the three to five P’s: POP, PUNK, PORN, PROTEST and PAIN.

In the shooting for a magazine called “Best of Vienna” she depicts a woman in front of diverse unfinished wallpaper designs.

Wallpapers always had their ups and downs. For example in the second half of the 1700s the Remondinis – printers from Bassano del Grappa in Italy – produced wallpapers that became popular at the time that they were used in La Fenice, Venice. Recently wallpapers have become very en vogue again. One example of wallpaper designers who have become widely appreciated nowadays are Timorous Beasties. Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons started out in Glasgow in the 1990s concentrating their attention on hand-printed wallpapers, fabrics and blinds. They

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first worked for bars, restaurants and later also designed for big furnishing companies. Lately they worked for the UK Supreme Court in London, Ogilvy and Mather in Dublin, etc. Timorous Beasties’ motifs include giant bees, huge butterflies, thorny thistles or sensual fuchsia orchids adorn some of the wallpapers; iguanas and scary looking pheasants. One of the designs that made Timorous Beasties popular was their Glasgow Toile. Wikipedia defines toile as a type of decorating pattern consisting of a usually white or off-white background on which a repeated pattern depicting a fairly complex scene, generally of a pastoral theme such as (for example) a couple having a picnic by a lake. Toiles also often consist of an arrangement of flowers. The pattern portion consists of a single color, most often black, dark red, or blue. Originally toile was made in France in late 1700 to compete with the painted and printed cotton fabrics imported from Asia. Timorous Beasties’ toile looks similar to the old toiles, but, on close inspection, rather than pastoral or rural scenes, it features images of addicts shooting up in the Necropolis, tramps sleeping on park benches and a young lad clad in a tracksuit peeing against some bushes, while, in the background, you can spot the Glasgow University Tower, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Church and the Armadillo building. Nina Levett is still starting out on her first wallpaper collection. She is facing technical problems with her in-house manufacturing technique. She sees similarities between her own narrative wallpapers and the works of Timorous Beasties. Most of the content here is inspired by an article about Timorous Beasties written by Anna Battista. Read the complete article here. Nina Levett talks about her new wallpaper collections and the work of Timorous Beasties. Watch her video below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grw_u33VW3o

Nina Levett shows how she colour corrects one of her wallpaper designs. She uses a brush to dry the colour and to enhance the look and feel of the wallpaper. The wallpaper is first drawn by hand and then silkscreen printed by hand.

In this video Nina Levett uses a handheld mobile device (an iphone app which creates a kaleidoscope effect to photos and videos) to create a disconcerting, distorted view of reality.

Continue reading “Kaleidoscope” »

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The incongruous alliance of financiers and artists is expressed in the relationship at the heart of this project.

Nina Levett suffered a great deal when after finishing this project I heard nothing from the team that had commissioned the artworks. Until now I have not got a response what will happen with the works.