At BKLYN DESIGNS: Jill Malek’s Wallcoverings

Anyone who reads my posts knows that I love books, which is why I take every opportunity to review bookshelves (see Rek and Graffititek). Hence, when I read the following about Jill Malek wallcoverings, I nearly swooned: “They can be used as … bookcase liners.” Was Malek reading my mind? I have a collection of antique wallpaper scraps that I use to dress up my bookcases-each shelf gets a different backdrop.

Anemone. Designed by Jill Malek.

Sometimes I switch them around or arrange them thematically, such as my use of a particularly kitschy bear pattern for the shelf that holds animal titles (bestiaries, fairy tales, and natural history art). But sadly, Jill Malek was NOT communicating with me telepathically. I read on. Other applications for her wallcoverings include photoshoot backdrops, alternatives to large-scale paintings, and “in every/any situation where you would want to create depth in a space.” These suggested applications were a far cry from the “for residential and commercial design” standard. Smart! Smarter still is Jill Malek’s explanation of her Frequencies Collection, which begins “frequency is the measurement of a recurring event in time”-simple and meaningful (also, reminiscent of Gerard Gennette), not to mention an essential distillation of pattern, that integral concept so fundamental to wallpaper’s appeal. By this point, I already love Malek-and I haven’t even laid eyes on her work. I would argue that an astute description indicates an acute eye. A glimpse of Malek’s newest wallcoverings proves me right. Showing at BKLYN DESIGNS 2009, Anemone and Betta “explore the patterns of movement found in marine life-specifically, the swaying of anemone and the swimming schools of colorful betta fish.” These two designs encapsulate Malek’s Frequencies with their unusual color choices, striking perspectives, interesting repeats, metallic splashes, and luscious depth.

At BKLYN DESIGNS: Jill Malek’s Wallcoverings

Aphrodite. Designed by Jill Malek.


Baby Elephant Walk. Designed by Jill Malek.


Inside Jill Malek’s studio.

All Jill Malek wallcoverings come in 27″ x 15′ rolls. Hand-screen printed using local printers and screen-burners, the wallpapers begin as hand-sketched designs that are later digitized. With a background in graphic design and experience in custom stationary, and book and website design, the person behind the company is well-equipped to tackle custom projects, eager to create unique, specialized wallcoverings. Malek’s experience in two and three dimensions (web and paper) has developed her sense of profundity (let’s just call it Malekian fathomage) and her handling of color. The intense creation of depth is self-evident in all her designs. The conflicting use of color, at once subtle and keen, is especially noticeable in Betta, whose Persimmon plays against our expectations-its warm red tones almost reject the liquidity of the sea in favor of the earth (the fish, as it were, is out of water). Betta also comes in Silverlined, Warm Sand, and Pearl, all of which eschew the forecasted blue.

Another interesting pattern in the Frequencies Collection is Flux, which Malek created after being inspired by “the pigeon fancier who lives across the street from [her] in Brooklyn,” who “trained pigeons [to] follow the movement of his arm in swaying motions.” The first in the Frequencies Series, Flux interprets the flying birds at dusk as they circle and soar in the darkening air. Flux is the ideal pattern for Brooklyners, who may have forgotten the beauty of the oft-denigrated pigeon, but Jill Malek doesn’t always go for metropolitan chic: Baby Elephant Walk in petals is playful in a child’s bedroom, and Aphrodite in bordeaux is divine in a dining room.

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