Exclusive Interview: Graham & Brown’s Trend Expert!

Trends & Events

There’s one company that comes to our mind when we think of the best wallcovering options in the world: Graham & Brown. An England-based company that is steeped in tradition and history, Graham & Brown does a pretty darn good job of staying on top of the latest color, pattern and wallpaper trends, too. This ability to always be one step ahead of trends keeps Graham & Brown on top of their market, but no doubt their expansive selection of great-looking wallcoverings doesn’t hurt their huge success.

Graham & Brown is also pretty cool because along with carrying fun and clever design lines from in-house designers like their Spirit, Elixir and Essence lines, they also carry a fabulously curated selection of wallcoverings from some of the hottest designers today, like Marcel Wanders, Amy Butler, Kelly Hoppen and more. Oh and they don’t just carry wallpaper–Graham & Brown has your other wall needs covered, like paint and art!

We had a chance to interview Paula Taylor from Graham & Brown, a color and trending whiz who does research in just what colors homeowners are aching to put into their home. She shared with us some of the history of Graham & Brown, what’s coming up this year in terms of color and pattern trends and information on the eco-friendly elements to some of their products. The only bummer part? We’ve only got words for you this time. We’ll make it up to you with lots of pretty images, though!

2M: Why don’t you describe Graham and Brown for us.
PT: It’s a very vibrant place to work. We are steeped in history (65 years) with our fingers on the pulse of latest trends. A friendly, family company with offices around the world who are all part of the family.

2M: How many designers or companies do you work with?
PT: We have eight full time, five part time designers in the studio in England. One designer in America and two in France. We collaborate with well known designers such as Amy Butler, Julian Macdonald, Barbara Hulanicki, Kelly Hoppen and Marcel Wanders to name a few. We also work on collections for companies like Monsoon and Fired Earth.

2M: Graham & Brown also has in-house designers and wallpaper lines, correct?
PT: Yes we have our own brands such as Super Fresco Easy and collections such as Spirit, Elixir and Essence which all of our in house designers work on.

2M: I’ve read that Graham & Brown has a lot of respect for the traditions of wallcovering but also looks to the future with contemporary designs, could you give me examples of designs where you can really see the respect for history and the eye for the future?
PT: We have a vast archive collection at G&B. Whenever we start a new collection we always delve into the archives to see if we have a design style that can be re -interpreted. A good example of this are the damask designs that are currently selling well. Many of those will be taken from old artworks and reworked into modern scale and colours. The tree design Enchant is also a good example of this—this was a very old design we had in the archives that we pulled out when we noticed the enchanted forest trend was starting.

2M: Let’s talk a little bit about your specific role at the company. What is it that you do?
PT: I work mainly on colour—tracking best selling colours and researching new colour combinations. I also produce G&B’s trend document for wallpaper, paint and home products so I have to research all types of interior trends and relay back to the company how they can be translated into our market areas.

2M: What’s your background like?
PT: I have worked there for 16 years. I studied 3 Dimensional Design at Birmingham Polytechnic. After graduating my first job was as a design executive at Silentnight Beds. Me and my husband Graham have one son Luc aged 7. Since working for G&B I have developed ranges for various customers worldwide and worked alongside designers such as Linda Barker, Wayne Hemingway and Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen on their collections. I have been trend forecasting for G&B for the past 10 years and have worked on wallpaper, wall art and paint ranges.

2M: So what are the trends for 2011 in terms of color and pattern in wallcovering?
PT: We will become more adventurous with both colour and pattern. In 2011 and 2012 we will keep our core neutrals and shift our accent colours. Chocolate will team up with caramels and rich blues, taupe will mix with yellowy greens, bold reds, purples and emeralds shades will create an opulent feel and soft nude tones will create a calming backdrop for flashes of red and pink. The hot tip for colour this year is pink. Pattern will come down slightly in scale—damasks, florals and strong geometrics still playing a major role.

2M: I saw your blog post about the top selling prints from 2010, looks like a lot of tradional damasks, some nature-inspired ones and also some modern geometric ones. Do you have a prediction for your top-selling one of the next few months?
PT: Damasks and Geometrics will perform well in the USA whereas in Europe we are seeing a huge explosion of large floral designs. I think this trend will start to filter over the water and become more popular.

2M: What about sustainability and eco-friendly elements, do you guys have anything “green”?
PT: Oh gosh yes! We have the greenest wallpaper collection. Our Eco papers—one of which is Heritage—this wallpaper is printed on paper from managed timber sources, only uses water based inks with no VOCs or solvents. Even the packaging is eco-friendly! It is entirely compostable and made from corn!

2M: Do you have a favorite design or two?
PT: I get so giddy about the latest looks that when it gets to market I’m onto the next thing already! I’m very fickle!

2M: Do you have any wallcovering in your house?
PT: Yes we have paintable geometric papers that we paint with our favourite colours.

2M: What would you be doing if you weren’t in the wallcovering business?
PT: I’d be in the interior design area in some way or another.

2M: So what’s up next for Graham & Brown?
PT: More paint ranges, more fabulous collections on the way—a celebration of our 65th anniversary this year! And lots more funky wall art with some really cool new techniques.

2M: Thanks, Paula!

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  1. Liz

    Feb 8, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Thanks so much for this post, great interview!

  2. Floor Cabinets

    Feb 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Wow! Thanks for the excellent interview. I love all of the insight they provided

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