The Walls Are Alive: This Interactive Wallpaper Is Making Magic

Flavor Paper is a wallpaper printing company with an origin story that reads like fodder for urban lore. The company was originally founded on the Oregon coast and, according to its current team, it “flourished in the age of Aquarius.” Years passed, as years are wont to do, and that once-thriving company was days from closure when a devoted group of young designers discovered the exhilarating hand-screened designs of its founder, Ted. Like devoted followers drawn to a prophet, the designers hurried to rescue the designs and equipment from destruction, scheduled for a date just days away. The young team relocated Flavor Paper to New Orleans and took up the company mantle, marrying Ted’s hands-on approach with new digital printing techniques. Now based in Brooklyn, Flavor Paper represents a new generation of wallpaper — and a new generation of designers.

Last year, Flavor Paper joined forces with UM Project, themselves designers of furniture and unusual goods, to create Conduct. This interactive wall covering experience debuted at the 2017 Collective Design Fair in New York, where it was met with fascination and praise.

The installation merges low-tech and high-tech touch integration of 2D and 3D elements to create an immersive experience. Screen-printed conductive ink tiles were arranged in a display that was every bit as pretty as it was novel. By touching key points on these tiles, participants were able to “close the loop” and trigger various sounds, lights, and motions. According to Flavor Paper, various elements were incorporated to honour the spirit of each company. “These design moments,” they say, “reflect the playful nature of both brands and engage and delight those who connect to make magic.”

The exhibit featured soft pink and grey hues with a tropical plant motif, which were composed of charming hints of Ghislaine Viñas’ popular Wild Thing wallpaper. Plywood was carefully hand-printed with graphic circuitry traces, and these tiles were then connected with copper tabs, which conducted electricity from Flavor Paper’s wall coverings to UM Project’s function boxes.

These function boxes included a Sound Light Box, which utilized “a single touchpad to activate deeper rings of light in a Verner Panton inspired Corian housing.” Also activated by touch was a tonal sound effect, amplified from a central speaker and indicating that the lights and sound were about to fade with finality. Further playful elements triggered by touch were a Shutter Box, designed to emulate an American flag and functioning as a moving shutter panel, and a Light Box, which allowed participants to illuminate quadrants of a “bronze glass-housed LED system with leather washer details” by pressing a quad touchpad. The Fan, a perforated copper relay bar, could be activated to blow a soft breeze into the space.

This exciting project challenges conventional notions of wallpaper design and propels the tired wallpaper of our parents’ and grandparents’ day into the twenty-first century. And the companies are eager to explore further possibilities. “This compelling display,” says Flavor Paper, “provides an inviting, immersive experience that encourages exploration of the endless opportunities within wallpaper design.”

Since all elements of Conduct were handmade in Brooklyn, every aspect is scalable and customizable. Interested in turning your home into a playful conversation piece? Hoping to infuse a space with a little life? Look no further than Conduct to electrify things — literally.



 All images via Credit: Francis Dzikowski