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ACID Member The Monkey Puzzle Tree Launches Wallcovering as a Result of Design for Diversity

LEEDS, UK Innovative interiors brand The Monkey Puzzle Tree has launched a bold new artisanal wall covering called ‘Blues Fantasia’. A modern take on Art Deco, the paper contrasts a natural toned textile background, bold colours and metallic gold with a striking African inspired graphic print. The design was launched at Decorex in October.

This latest wallpaper for the multi award winning interiors brand has been two years in the making and was created in collaboration with animation artist Josephine McYebuah.

Josephine spent most of her childhood in Ghana and is has diverse influences ranging from comics to Bollywood films and Art Deco glamour.

In 2020, Charlotte Raffo, founder of The Monkey Puzzle Tree had spent months in an unsuccessful search for a new artist with a truly different style. She found Josephine as a result of the publicity generated by the Design for Diversity pledge.

Charlotte Raffo, founder of The Monkey Puzzle Tree, said, “I was so frustrated with the lack of true originality in the designs we received in our first artist call out.

I realised that there were two issues we had to address. Firstly, that the Yorkshire artists we were working with at the time didn’t truly represent the range of diversity in our region, and secondly that to drive our creativity forwards we desperately needed new ideas from people with different experiences and backgrounds.”

The pledge, which was created by Kate Watson Smyth (Mad About the House) and interior designer Rukmini Patel aimed to help promote diversity in the interiors industry, something which The Monkey Puzzle Tree had been seeking to do to ensure that the Yorkshire based artists they work with accurately represent the diversity of the region.

Dids Macdonald, OBE., CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID) said,  “As a Yorkshire born and bred person I was so excited to see tangible progress of diversity being realized from a fusion of skills, talent and different experiences. Decorex is one of the flagship interior events of the season and it was the right venue for this award-winning brand to launch its vibrant new wallcovering, “Blues Fantasia”. Many congratulations to ACID members The Monkey Puzzle Tree!

One of the company’s aims is to promote and preserve local industry and traditional skills, with all designs being manufactured within 100 miles of their Leeds studio.

To achieve its astonishing depth of colour and texture, Blues Fantasia is silk screen printed onto a natural toned textile base. The wallpaper takes two people five hours to produce each run of 30m, with each colour having to be left to painstakingly dry before the next is applied.

Josephine was chosen for this latest design collaboration for her unique style and interesting and unusual influences. Growing up in Accra, Ghana, she was fascinated by the cartoons and animation she saw on television as well as Bollywood films and the wildlife and colours in her surroundings. After moving to England when she was 15, she channeled her love of cartoon and character into studying for a degree in animation at the University of West of England in Bristol. Moving to Leeds in 2012, Josephine has pursued her own unique style and has ambitions to illustrate books for children and young adults.

The starting point for Blues Fantasia was a series of pencil sketches, where Josephine drew upon references from the Art Deco era, including ornate screens and cinema design. Charlotte took the sketches and arranged them in the geometric style creating the Art Deco style which can be seen in the finished design. The vibrant colour palette was a key part of the look and Josephine and Charlotte collaborated on curating this, mocking the design up by hand using pastels initially before the final colours were trialled at the mill.

The impressive scale and vibrant colours of ‘Blues Fantasia’ make it perfect for creating a show stopping feature in a large space such as a hotel or grand entrance hall. A plain textile wallpaper coordinate is also available to use alongside Blues Fantasia allowing a flexible use of pattern and colour.

When Charlotte founded The Monkey Puzzle Tree in 2017, her mission was to create uniquely beautiful interiors whilst supporting local artists by paying a generous royalty. The highly distinctive fabrics and wallcoverings which are designed in collaboration with a handpicked group of talented artists are all manufactured within 100 miles of her Leeds HQ.

The Monkey Puzzle Tree has gained a cult following amongst interior designers and homeowners who enjoy both the function and aesthetics of these highly individual fabrics and wallpapers.

See and download hi-res images of ‘Blues Fantasia’ 

‘Blues Fantasia’ superwide wall covering is 134cm wide and is priced at £280/m and is available from www.themonkeypuzzletree.com

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