Asterisk Designs’ latest venture marries the richness of Venetian plaster to the lightweight convenience of wallpaper. The company’s founder, Celeste Coughlin, a Brooklyn-based artisan specializing in handcrafted wall finishes, devised the new product after installing Venetian plaster onto wood panels at the flagship Chanel store, in New York.
Peter Marino, the architect commissioned to design the 57th Street interior, was so pleased with Coughlin’s technique that he wanted to ship it overseas to Chanel stores in France and Japan. When it came time to decorate the Tokyo couturier, however, the expense of shipping weighty premade panels overseas proved too high.
In response Coughlin devised an elaborate method of hand printing the plaster onto a nonwoven paper base that could then be installed like standard wallpaper. The method consists of gradually building up thin layers of marble-dust-based plaster on the paper’s surface, which is then silkscreened with abstract patterns and textures and burnished by hand with a high-quality furniture wax, often with a bit of ground mica mixed in for added sheen. “It’s a very luminous, luxurious look,” Coughlin says. “This technique allows for a lot of reflectivity, and also a lot of subtlety.”
Asterisk launched the product in May at the Brooklyn Designs 2005 trade show and at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and is producing an installation for Chanel’s two latest boutiques opening in Hong Kong at the end of this year.
Venetian Plaster Wallpaper
Thin layers of Venetian plaster are applied to a non-woven paper base, silkscreened with an additional layer of plaster, and finished with high-quality furniture wax.
The handcrafted nontoxic wallpaper retains most of the qualities of traditional Venetian plaster, making it appropriate for a variety of interiors, ranging from residential to high-end hotels and restaurants. The surface is water-resistant and can be cleaned easily with mild soap and water.
The marble-dust-based plaster is slightly translucent and, depending on the kind of wax finish selected, can be highly reflective. The paper is available in eight standard patterns and colors and can be customized to meet the client’s desires.
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