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Annika Reed on designing wallpaper, running a business and creativity


“My love affair with print and colour began in childhood. I was constantly surrounded by pattern books in my dad’s upholstery workshop. After school I would sit and admire his latest creation, transforming objects most would abandon into exquisite pieces of furniture,” says wallpaper designer Annika Reed…

Annika Reed is a Somerset-based wallpaper designer whose collections are stocked by Anthropologie (UK and USA) and Glassette. Her wallpaper was voted one of the best 27 by Glamour Magazine and Annika’s work has been featured in publications including Elle Decoration, House & Garden and Livingetc. She is commissioned by interior designers to create bespoke designs, as well as selling rolls of her beautiful wallpaper on her website.

Tell us about your wallpaper business: when did you start it, and why?

In 2018, while pregnant with my daughter, I wanted to decorate her nursery in wallpaper that came to life, that would fill her head with images and ideas that she would remember forever. There was nothing on the market that was fun, yet sophisticated, quirky but not childish.

I had just finished my MA in Fine Art Printmaking, I specialised in woodblock and my work had moved away from the traditional frame and I was making installations spanning three walls of a gallery. So wallpaper was an obvious transition.

I designed a paper based on the poem by William Blake Tyger Tyger, it was only supposed to be for her, but once I hung the finished design in her nursery I became wallpaper obsessed.

While on maternity leave, I made a website and quite naively started a business. I launched a wallpaper collection 16 months later at London Design Fair and two years later it became my full time job.

Were you always interested in wallpaper?

My love affair with print and colour began in childhood. I was constantly surrounded by pattern books in my dad’s upholstery workshop. After school I would sit and admire his latest creation, transforming objects most would abandon into exquisite pieces of furniture. I used old swatches of fabric to make homes for my toys, cutting them up and using them as carpet and wallpaper in a cardboard box.

So in that respect yes, but I studied fine art at university and the decorative arts were not respected, it had to be conceptual and in a way I lost the joy of making for arts sake. So I’ve come full circle, my patterns all have meanings and a story to tell so my fine art training feeds into my designs.

Art has been my constant love but has been nurtured by my parents without a doubt

What was your home like, growing up?

Filled with antiques, knick-knacks, colour and wallpaper. My parents have fantastic taste especially in furniture, not a flat pack in sight. We had a lot of chairs around the house, my dad being an upholster and my mum a lover of auctions.

I had a wallpaper border in my bedroom which I lined up my smash hits posters perfectly against. On holiday we would visit architecture and churches rather than beaches. At the time I thought it was boring, but it has influenced my love of interiors and objects.

How would you describe your home now?

We are nearing the end of a house renovation, it’s been a journey! Luckily my husband and I have similar tastes. It’s rather colourful, full of pattern and miss matching furniture and bits collected over the years. It is a Victorian house and we have kept and restored original features, a combination of tradition with a modern twist. I have my wallpaper in all bedrooms and the hallway and rooms that aren’t papered are painted in rich oranges, greens and pinks. There isn’t a white wall in sight. Now I spend my spare time at auctions and car boot sales finding objects and pictures to add the finishing touches. I have a growing pottery collection and love all things folk art.

How is business?

A rollercoaster! As I said, I naively set up my business on maternity leave and if I knew then the challenges of running a business I may have stopped at decorating my daughter’s room. But it is growing and each year I move closer to my goals. I’m learning a lot along the way.

I’ve just come back from Decorex, a trade show in London, and launched a new collection. October is a busy month in the interiors world.

What is your greatest challenge, right now?

Working on my own, I miss the chat of an office space and as I work from home I do get overwhelmed by always being home. I miss bouncing ideas off others in an art studio and chats about other people’s lives. Being on your own, you are with your own thoughts all day and all decisions are mine, that’s the hardest thing for me.

What do you feel most proud of, in terms of your business?

Taking the leap to quit my job, having the belief that it will all work out and hanging on to that belief on a daily basis. I left uni and went into a very safe and stable teaching job, so from my early 20s when all my friends were experimenting with careers and internships I had a safe salary and a pension scheme. So taking that leap of faith with a child, a mortgage in my 30’s was something I didn’t think I could do, so I’m very proud I did.

I also feel proud every time I see my wallpaper in someone’s home. That feeling doesn’t get old, to know I made something that someone wants to fill a room of their house with, that feeling is incredible.

If you had to shut down shop and do something else, what would you do?

I think about this a lot. Moving out of London the pool of jobs shrunk a lot! I would happily lecture at a university again or retrain as an Interior Designer but work for someone else!

Where do you go for inspiration?

I love nothing more than sitting in an art gallery on my own and drawing. It’s what I miss most from moving out of London. But a change of environment like a holiday or exploring a new town is equally inspiring. I have a large collection of art books which are the start of lots of my wallpapers. I find inspiration everywhere.

What makes you creative: nature, nurture or a mixture?

I think a mixture, my dad was very creative and watching him work so hard in his business was a big influence. My mum and I would craft most days between 6-7pm and at weekends we would do endless art classes. At school I spent most of my lunch breaks in the art room, it was the only subject I didn’t have to try at, I’m dyslexic and struggled with the 90s way of chalk and talk and copying from a textbook. Art has been my constant love but has been nurtured by my parents without a doubt.

Who inspires you?

So many! With the world of social media, I am constantly inspired, maybe even to overwhelm. I obsess over artists/designers/musicians and soak up everything they have and then slowly move on to another. I could spend all day naming people. Currently it’s Rebecca Lucy Taylor and Martha Armiatge.

Best book you’ve ever read?

Patti Smith, Just Kids.

Whose walls would you most like to see your wallpaper on?

Beata Heuman. I love her style and playfulness she adds into each of her rooms.

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