Ethereal, romantic and surreal; wallpapers from Maison C create a world unto their own anywhere they are installed. We spoke with co-founders Chiara de Rege and Costanza (Cosi) Theodoli-Braschi about how they came to collaborate and their newest design: 'Natura Morta' .
TELL US ABOUT HOW THE TWO OF YOU MET, YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU DECIDED TO COLLABORATE?
We met through ex boyfriends in the city about 15 years ago and then reconnected about 6 years ago. We became instant friends through so many connections and similarities. We are both half Italian and love to travel. We are both creative and obsessed with art, books, movies, etc. How we decided to work together....
CTB: I have always been deeply drawn to murals and frescoes- worlds painted on walls. The way a space can become a portal and take you into a dream. This was really my impetus to create this wallpaper collection, and it seemed like the perfect project to work on with Chiara.
CDR: One because I love Cosi's work so much, I literally wanted to see it plastered on every wall. And two, because our creative banter resulted in wanting to do some sort of mural like wallpaper really for our own curiosity and passion. I didn't have a specific client or project in mind. Cosi was totally new to the world of wallpaper. We just wanted to explore and our exploration resulted in our first patterns Coven and Eden and then the rest fell into order.
AN ILLUSTRATOR AND INTERIOR DESIGNER IS SUCH A UNIQUE COMBINATION OF PERSPECTIVES, WALK US THROUGH HOW YOU APPROACH DESIGNING TOGETHER.
CTB:We approached this project from different professional backgrounds but we are inspired by many of the same things. We had been brainstorming ideas of how to work together and thought it could be interesting to somehow develop my drawings into murals and this led us to wallpaper. Our aim was/is to create a line that is new and unique, while still possessing a timeless feel.
CDR: Cosi’s work is quite narrative. Even if it is a still life, there are stories to the objects within the still life. There are stories even to a simple floral pattern like Eden in the sense that the flowers are elusive and intriguing. As an interior designer, patterns, textures, and colors inform my design decisions.
I look at Cosi’s work and I am able to see it in rooms as a repeat and to scale. Together, we take something as simple as a beautiful water color that Cosi has done and envision it on walls of a range of interiors and rooms. We play with the scale and the repeat and the nuances within the art until the composition feels it can accommodate a multitude of interiors (from powder rooms to dining rooms to ceilings). We have quite a bit of banter leading up to the final pattern and ultimately we get to a place where we can both envision it enveloping a space and then we are ready to send that pattern off into the world.
YOUR WALLPAPERS CREATE AN INSTANT EMOTIONAL CONNECTION, WHICH OF YOUR DESIGNS ARE YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITES?
CTB: Sagan - I love it’s rich texture and the sporadic lush gold stars. It’s a simple design, compared to some of our more elaborate patterns, but there’s an infinite depth to it and it makes me dream. Carl Sagan was such an incredible and inspiring person, I was so excited to design a wallpaper that we could name after him
CDR: Coven- I love the mural like aspect of Coven. It’s whimsical but serious. The scale is versatile. It’s beautiful for its subtlety and yet the subjects are unexpected. I love that balance between the subtle and unexpected.
WITH COSI LOCATED IN CALIFORNIA AND CHIARA BASED IN NEW YORK, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES OF COLLABORATING FROM SEPARATE COASTS?
The time difference and not being in the same room to look at the designs together. We are both creatives who enjoy our time together and both feel like it would be a dream to be on the same coast for longer times together as we feed well off each others creative direction and inspirations. We are also a bit old fashioned and human interaction is important to us.
We regret that we do not have lots of creative time together in one room but we maximize the time that we do have.
DO YOU MEET FREQUENTLY TO WORK TOGETHER OR IS IT ALL DONE DIGITALLY?
We wish we could meet more often but sadly most of the work is done via phone calls, face-time and emails. When we finally get time together it’s precious.
One perk of this is that since our decisions are based on the visual, by the time we view a work in progress, we have time to marinate before we correspond or speak and this in turn makes for effective editing and decision making. Very little is impulsive since there is always time for thought before we correspond.
WHERE DO YOU EACH LOOK FOR INSPIRATION? DO YOU FIND YOU OFTEN GRAVITATE TOWARDS THE SAME THINGS OR DO YOU EACH INFLUENCE THE OTHER?
CTB: Inspiration comes from everywhere and it is not censored. We both feel that wallpaper doesn’t have to fit into it’s own category of design, it can truly be art. And I don’t draw thinking about an organized repeat, I draw thinking of a whole environment.
This brings us back to the notion of the portal -
that is really the ethos of Maison C.
We are very in sync in terms of what inspires and moves us. We bonded over a mutual favorite book (Light Years by James Salter) the day we met, which led to a deep friendship based on a mutual love for art, movies, literature, travel and now wallpaper.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING PLACE YOU HAVE SEEN YOUR DESIGNS?
Our first ever client was Karen Elson, who ordered Coven for the boudoir of her home in Nashville. Architectural Digest did a profile on her renovation, featuring our wallpaper so that was pretty exciting - our first ever install appearing in AD!
We also created a custom Coven called Coven’s Wing for the Mother’s Room at the Wing which was exciting.
The truth is that every install is wonderful to us. Seeing our wallpaper on people’s walls, whether it is a tiny powder room, or an entire floor, is always thrilling. The designs come alive on the walls and it’s so interesting to see how they transform in different spaces.
WHAT'S COMING NEXT?
New patterns, fabrics and even some home furnishings, to be disclosed in the next few months!