Home Decorating Make a Scene

Make a Scene

When it comes to wallpaper, we’re all for a bold statement. It doesn’t get much more eye-catching than scenic wallpaper, which often depicts buildings, landscapes, and pastoral scenes with charming, old-world panache.

Two of the standard-bearers of the scenic-wallpaper industry are Zuber, which has been creating handmade wallpapers since 1797, and Iksel, another Paris-based manufacturer that makes “printed frescoes.”

Zuber still adheres to its 200-plus-year-old tradition of producing wallpapers with original, 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century woodblocks, with some panoramas made up of more than 50 strips of paper and dozens of layers of color—and each applied by hand. A finished Zuber paper can take up to a year to make, and it typically has the price tag to prove it. But that hasn’t stopped many people, including President and Mrs. Kennedy, from loading up on it their homes.

A newbie on the market, Iksel was founded by the husband-and-wife team of Mehmet and Dimonah Iskel in the late 1980s. Typically, an Iksel design begins with hand painting on paper. It’s then sent by e-mail to artisans in India, who turn it into a  large-scale painting. Those canvases are converted to digital files via a superfine-resolution large-format scanner, and the Iksels fine-tune the images and add additional effects like gessoing and crackling. The final product consists of 44-inch-wide panels (up to 25 feet high) that are pieced together to create a single scene, from botanicals to faux tapestries to trompe l’oeil.

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