This month I interviewed Avery Thatcher, founder and creative designer behind Juju Papers, a local line of wallpaper that brings everyday – and not so everyday – patterns to life.
Launched in 2011, Avery’s creative arts background and international travels influenced her to launch Juju Papers. The company designs both residential and commercial wallpaper offering clients an opportunity to accommodate a scale and budget for any project.
What you’ll find in the collection are beautiful designs, whimsical accents, and stylish prints perfect for home or office.
- Tell us how Juju Paper started?
During my 20s I did a lot of traveling and was introduced to different decorative styles in homes in many different countries. I realized that one of the aspects that I loved about many of the countries that I travelled to was a daring use of layered patterns – I saw this in South Africa, Indonesia, Mozambique, and other places. I was already a visual artist at the time, but I decided to switch my focus to working in pattern. I first put energies into tile, mosaic and mural style, but eventually I started designing patterns on paper and then decided to start a wallpaper company.
What drives your innovation process? How do you come up with new ideas and themes for your wallpaper collections every season?
I keep an inventory of concepts, photos and sketches that I add to daily. I gathered them as I as I start designing a new line. The photos I keep are mostly compositional studies, and I keep conceptual notes in word form. When I start to design, I use these notes in order to start putting the paint on paper. I paint with ink and acrylic medium on paper at a furious pace, and the notes guide the expressive tone. There’s no shortage of inspiration in my world – cracks in a sidewalk, old signs, rocks arranged in a stream, almost any composition can excite a great pattern.
How do you find distribution for your collections?
I mostly work with interior designers in order to bring their client’s vision to life. I also sell through select showrooms, to customers through our website, and to design/architecture firms on larger scale commercial projects. However, the bulk of our business is building relationships with interior designers and firms.
What’s challenging about being in your industry?
The biggest challenge in our industry is communicating to our customers that wallpaper is not a nightmare to remove or install! Too many of us had to deal with very old wallpaper installations that were a nightmare to remove. As a result, many people are hesitant to hang new wallpaper. Today’s modern prep coats and pastes ensure that strippable wallpapers, such as ours, are easy to remove. Our challenge is educating a new generation about how much wallpaper has changed.
How have perceptions of wallpaper changed? What do you tell those who are a little nervous about the permanence of wallpaper? What makes Juju Paper so special?
I am so happy to say that wallpaper is truly back! I think that the bad associations with the permanence with wallpaper came when wallpaper was an “every wall in every room and purchased at my local hardware store and in many shades of tan” kind of situation. Our clients are design savvy and select their wallpaper with precision, seeking out small-batch designer wallpapers like Juju instead of just grabbing “whatev” at a large department store. If you find a wallpaper that speaks to you, it is worth the “permanence” of having it installed, and in theory, someday removed.
My intention at Juju is to create wallpapers that literally bring magic into a room. If you find a design that truly speaks to your style – and you know it, and you hang it – that design will actually tie the personal things that you already have together into a cohesive, intentional look. Whether someone finds that in my designs or someone else’s, I love the idea that that is possible! You just have to find “the one.”
How do you source your wallpaper?
Our wallpapers are screen printed by hand with water based inks on all US sourced, sustainably-harvested pulp paper.
What can customers expect to see from Juju Paper in the coming months?
We recently released our Graffito Collection at Design Week in NY, and for the next few months we will continue to work with all of our interior designers and firms in order to get the samples into the hands of their clients, and gathering up all of the amazing client installation photos to share with our followers.
Meet the Makers is a series about the creatives driving innovation across industries in Portland, Oregon. Every quarter, you’ll learn about one of the city’s most adored brands interviewed by Inger McDowell-Hartye, owner and creative director of With Love, From PDX, a gifting company featuring locally-made goods and products.