Let’s be honest. For most of the last 40 years wallpaper had a bad rep. Designs lost their edge and the only areas of growth were in the cheaper, mass-produced versions sold in DIY superstores.
More recently, however, wallpaper has undergone a revival in its fortunes. The fashion for feature walls has encouraged a taste for larger, more assertive patterns while the development of digital printing and the revival of screen-printing has enabled artists and freelance designers to get involved. And the involvement of big names from the world of fashion, such as Vivienne Westwood and Ralph Lauren, has helped to make wallpaper the essential background for a bold 21st-century lifestyle.
Divine Savages are at the forefront of this new wave of innovative designers. Forget mass-produced, boring and uninspiring design, company founders Tom Kennedy and Jamie Watkins are on a mission to deliver stunning wallpapers and fabrics, not to mention gorgeous home accessories, limited edition art prints and beautiful gifts.
For their latest collection, Divine Savages have invigorated some of their most iconic wallpaper prints in sumptuously shimmering metallics. Wigwam caught up with the guys to find out more.
Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds?
(Tom) is the creative force behind Divine Savages having studied graphic design at university and then followed a career in fashion and branding. (Jamie) actually works in broadcasting, so very different to the creative industry we’re now in, but brings key skills on the business, marketing and networking side. Together we both bring a unique skillset that enabled us to start Divine Savages in late 2017. After beginning to decorate our own home with Tom designing some patterns and prints, we started to think about creating our own brand to encourage a bolder interior design, with pattern, colour and print and a goal of injecting more fun and personality into homes.
What’s the inspiration behind your designs and who has influenced you?
We find inspiration from all around us, particularly the natural world which is full of vibrant colour and pattern. We also love the style of Art Deco through to more traditional Toile, but we always love to put our Divine Savages twist on whatever we do – for example our Deco Martini which takes inspiration from the classic fan-motif but incorporates our favourite tipple, or our Forbidden Bloom print which, when you look closer at the vines, you realise they are in fact serpents. We like to create intricate designs that invite you to look closer and discover new things each time.
Do you work in collaboration with anybody?
We recently collaborated with London’s Natural History Museum for a bold collection inspired by their archives. It was such a rewarding experience creating this collection which includes designs influenced both by their vast library of original illustrations, but also the iconic building itself.
As well as being creative partners you are married. Was that an advantage during lockdown?
Lockdown actually didn’t really change much for us in terms of how we work, as we run our business from home anyway, but it certainly gave us more time to come together and really look at where Divine Savages has come over the past few years and celebrate everything that we have achieved so far.
Is there a typical Divine Savages customer?
Whilst many of our customers love to embrace a bolder décor with pattern and colour, we’re seeing more people come to us as they experiment for the first time with wallpaper or more extravagant interior design – which we absolutely love as this is exactly why we created Divine Savages! Our customers have a love of unique and daring design, they are seeking out something different and want to create an interior that’s a little more adventurous – whether that’s a whole room wrapped in our wallpaper or by taking smaller steps by introducing pattern through soft furnishings like cushions or through accessories like lampshades and artwork.
Tell us what inspired the Metallics collection?
We had so much fun creating our latest Metallics collection, working with traditional British manufacturing processes and skilled craftsmanship to reinvigorate some of our iconic designs with luxurious golds and copper. We got really involved with the printing techniques, creating intricately engraved rollers and mixing paint colours by hand to achieve a unique collection that brings something different to your home. Our favourite thing about using metallic embellishments in this collection is that as the light changes throughout the day, the wallpaper will subtly change and bring your walls to life. We love Crane Fonda ‘Black Gold’ for creating a bold and luxurious living room scheme, and Deco Martini in Rose Gold for a slightly more laid-back lux look, perfect for a bedroom.
Where do you see yourselves in 10 years time?
We have some exciting plans we want to put into action including extending into new areas like furniture, working with selected artisans to create beautiful bespoke pieces with our Divine Savages twist – we’re always thinking of new ways we can grow the brand and continue to offer exceptional quality and unique design. We’re really excited about what the future holds and invite you to come join us!
Coming soon, an extended version of this interview in the second print edition of Wigwam.
Swindon interior designers PEPPER&CO use Divine Savages as part of their sumptuous designs.
Tom & Jamie
Divine Savages www.divinesavages.com
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