I’m a big fan of anthropomorphized animals—for aesthetic purposes. Ever since I read about the French aristocrat with the spaniel’s head in Jean Dutourd’s novel A Dog’s Head, I have had a fascination with creatures unxpectedly dressed up in finery. I like to imagine certain dog breeds in famous oil paintings, pairing canine characteristics with artistic styles. Gainsborough’s Blue Boy would be a Russian Wolf Hound; the blonde in Velázquez’s Las Meninas would be a pomeranian; and the Grande Odalisque of Ingres would be an Afghan. When I discovered Hackney Empire wallpaper by House of Hackney, I nearly gasped--so much was my delight at seeing badgers donning mysterious eyepatches, otters holding decorative fans, and monkeys playing the accordion. The pattern is a fantastic phantasmagoria--a De Quincy-ian fever dream to turn your walls into a ravishing expanse of bright and beastly beauty.
Hackney Empire Luxury Wallpaper in Midnight. Manufactured by House of Hackney.
Decadent Wallpaper Depicts Imbibing Badgers and Smoking Sloths
Given its combination of artistic animals and exotic details, Hackney Empire Luxury Wallpaper brings to mind sybaritic pleasures like royal menageries and Turkish baths. Like natural history illustrations or Medieval bestiaries, this pretty pattern puts the real alongside the imaginary. The result is as outlandish as Sir Richard Burton's exoticized depictions of Arab harems--too decadent to be believable but ravishing nonetheless. The wallcovering features "hookah-smoking sloths and a frog in a bowler hat surrounded by parrots and cranes"--it is not a pattern for the faint of heart. In fact, the connotations of Hackney Empire are almost sinful: imbibing badgers and smoking sloths call to mind at least a few of the seven deadly sins.
And the colors of Hackney Empire Luxury Wallpaper are extravagant as well. Available in solid or striped variations of black, ochre, and red, the colors rival the vibrancy of storied jewels (sunken Spanish gold or Sinbad's river of rubies). Digitally printed using environmentally friendly inks and FSC paper, Hackney Empire is a "luxury maximalist wallpaper featuring a carnival of animals amidst animalistic debauchery." This is a design for bold adventurers. Paper a library in the Grenadine version to create a lurid backdrop for wild tomes like 1,001 Nights and Naked Lunch. The striped Ochre gives a faslse note of refinement for a tea room where one might drink Absinthe instead of Assam. In Midnight, the Hackney Empire Wallpaper might transform a boudoir into the dark heart of an unexplored jungle.
About the Manufacturer: Launched in April 2011, House of Hackney is a new luxury wallpaper, bed linen, and home furnishings label which reworks the concept of traditional British housewares for a new generation. Based in London, they add some humor to the modeled sense of British elegance, transforming fine bed linens, wallpaper, and bone china into whimsical statements. House of Hackney wants its products to stand the test of time, and in order to make sure it happens, they work with talented, traditional British manufacturers in their fields.