I came to know Cristina Buckley through her Instagram feed, full of vintage design inspiration that she thoughtfully shares and has beautifully referenced in her new line of wallpaper. Her debut collection is a nod to California with a Canyon Ferns design that was inspired by her backyard view, as well as a palm tree and cheetah print that reads both classic and Hollywood glam. Vibrant color combinations enhance the designs and motifs, making the collection versatile for an eclectic home or a minimal home that needs one statement piece. On Kneeland Co. Voyages, Cristina shares her love for ‘60s and ‘70s textiles and wallpaper; old postcards; botanical illustrations; and what she learned from her experience working for Schumacher and Kelly Wearstler.
1. What was the starting point of your new wallpaper collection? Did you have ideas that you had been wanting to bring to life for some time, or did the ideas come to you once you sat down and started to design?
I actually began designing this collection as fabric at first. But after I had most of my artwork completed and the colorways done, I had a sort of “aha” moment where I thought they should be wallpapers rather than fabric. Some of the designs are rather dramatic so I thought they would be really successful on walls to make a bold statement in an interior. But in terms of how it all began, it was a combination of going back and looking at things that I’ve sketched over the years as well as starting completely from scratch. It was an incredibly liberating and fun process – to simply draw and paint which I hadn’t done in years. The imagery really just flowed out of my head organically – I didn’t have a plan or a conceived idea of what it would all look like except I knew it would be bold patterns and colors…definitely not subtle neutrals for me. (At least right now.)
The first design I did was “Canyon Ferns” and it was inspired by the view out to my backyard. There is a garden full of native California ferns that have been there for over 50 years and I find the silhouette of them so beautiful and compelling. I love the symmetry of the leaves and how they taper in size. So I was drawn to that as a subject from the beginning.
2. How would you describe your collection?
I think that my collection has an old school country club feeling – a little preppy, a little Hollywood Regency and a little classic with a vintage vibe. I love wallpapers & textiles from the 1960’s & 70’s. It was important for me for the collection to feel well-rounded and have versatility in scale and in the motifs, and I feel like I definitely achieved that. But also color is so important and my collection is full of strong colors and color combinations. The most fun part of developing this line was selecting the colors and getting the samples from my printers for the first time. I could keep trialing new colorways forever!
3. I am really drawn to your Wild Desert Dream wallpaper with the palm trees and cheetahs! It feels like a fresh take on animal print and the palm tree trend. Was it difficult to create something that felt inspired and updated?
Thank you! I wasn’t trying to do my version of something that’s “on trend” – it definitely was born out of me wanting to have a pattern with animals, and I am drawn to anything with leopards/cheetahs/animal print/etc. I’ve been collecting printed imagery for years; magazine tear sheets, old postcards, botanical illustrations, etc. And I have a quite a lot of images of palm trees. I’ve been drawn to them for a long time – ever since I first visited California in my teens. They represent an exotic wild nature to me since I grew up in New York City. The design has a playful quality that I like but it also can go more 70’s glam depending on the colorway.
4. You come from a background of textile design and launched your brand with wallpaper. Do you have plans to expand into other categories?
I am working on a follow up collection of fabrics. I’m really excited to translate some of my existing patterns into fabrics and to see them more fluid rather than flat on a wall. But I’m also developing a new group of designs – things that I feel the need to explore and express. I have a floral design with an art deco influence, a very bold geometric pattern, I’d say overall the new collection will feel more decorative than my first. And I’m also very interested in printing some designs on velvet. I think rich saturated colors on velvet can be super luxe and elegant.
5. Having worked for both Kelly Wearstler and Schumacher, what do you value the most from both career experiences?
Working at Schumacher was an incredible learning experience. I began there as a colorist, doing designs by hand, mixing paint for color chips to go to the printer, putting designs into repeat. But I also was trained on Nedgraphics which is software that’s used just by the textile industry to create files that the mills engrave the screens from. So it was a great combination of doing things super old school and using technology.
But the main thing about my experience is that I learned so much about the process of how to develop and produce textile & wallpaper collections – from buying archival documents for inspiration, to creating repeats, correcting strike offs from the printers, to going to the mills in Europe to oversee the printing of final production. I was given a great education as well as the opportunity for significant growth. I also feel really fortunate to have been able to explore the company’s archives which was truly incredible. Schumacher has a rich history and it was very special to be able to view traditional historical designs from the late 1880’s to more modern pieces from the collaborations they did with designers such as Raymond Loewy, Vera Neumann and Dorothy Draper.
I worked with Kelly Wearstler for 7 years and it was a time of incredible growth. What I really enjoyed was interpreting and translating Kelly’s aesthetic into different product categories – everything from bedding to rugs to dinnerware (just to name a few!). But what I learned most of all from Kelly is to find inspiration everywhere. I know it sounds like a cliché but I think it’s a talent. It can be from the tiniest detail on an antique button or the color of a vintage ribbon – it’s just a matter of having your senses open. But then the most important thing is taking that inspiration and creating something new.
6. Name 3 things that are inspiring you right now.
Op Art by artists such as Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley and Verner Panton. I love how they explored color and the interaction between colors. I am intrigued to try to do something in this style for my new collection that feels modern and not retro.
Lately I’ve been re-discovering some women authors whose work I’m drawn to. I’ve been rereading books by Siri Hustvedt, Rachel Kushner, Elena Ferrante and Joan Didion. I think the common thread is they all create a strong sense of time and place, as well as exploring friendship, creativity and mortality.
I’m so inspired by the Northern California coast! I recently went on a road trip to Point Reyes and Sea Ranch and was so in awe of the rugged beauty of the ancient trees and the cliffside beaches. I also loved having the freshest oysters in the world!
Visit www.cristinabuckley.com to see more