Wallpaper isnt what it used to be thanks to Kyra and Robertson Hartnett. Many of us remember the wall coverings of our childhood, as seen in our grandmothers house as well as our own. This couple has thankfully shattered those images.
The Hartnetts met while they were working for a Canadian clothing company, he in window display and store directive, she in marketing. The company was not doing very well; they saw the handwriting on the wall and decided it was time to leave and pursue their own dream.
In 2000, now married and still living in New York City, the couple decided to start their own business and Twenty2 was born. The name signifies a lucky number for them.
When I was shooting images for the store, we turned them into store graphics and wall murals, said Kyra. Their impact was intriguing to us. Rob had worked briefly in the movie business and his experience in the art department enhanced what they already knew.
After designing and decorating an apartment for a friend, including huge graphics created with paint, the Hartnetts knew that home decor was where their interests lay.
Rob thought that wallpaper was an interesting way to segue into graphic wall treatments. We are not painters and we dont do sketches, explained Kyra. We design patterns. We breathe color. We live for texture. We snap photos - lots of them. We are inspired by little things; reflections, manhole covers, old cars.
From the hundreds of photos they take, anywhere and everywhere, Rob will extrapolate elements from various images, put them together and create a unique pattern.
Typography is sometimes woven in as well. The shape of an element will be repeated to form a pattern that makes it distinctive.
Wallpaper had pretty much fallen out of favor when the Hartnetts decided to enter the market. It was a day at the Cooper Hewitt Museum that convinced them they were on to something special.
Poring over the history of wallpaper, we saw some amazing examples and decided we would create our own line of papers, said Rob. Their first collection was launched at the 2003 International Contemporary Furniture Fair and they were off and running.
Twenty2 has become known for its amazing collection of grass cloth wallpaper designs that has grown to 57 colors. Additionally, they will customize to suit a clients needs. The advantage of grass cloth is that it is made of natural fibers, completely eco-friendly and uses low production energy.
While it took a number of years to get established, Twenty2 is now one of the most sought-after design studios. Besides the incredible product, the Hartnetts pride themselves on superior customer service.
Having been in retail, we have a high appreciation of customer experience, explained Kyra. Rob and I, along with our assistant Taylor, are the whole company. Customers get to speak directly with us and that personal contact is so important.
The Hartnetts eventually moved out of the city and now have a studio just steps away from their home in Litchfield. It is crisp and clean and minimal, with lots of light and the sound of a stream that runs along side the building. This new environment has contributed to their growth as well.
The urban landscape was incredibly inspiring, but there is a certain rigidity to it, and the architectural aspect was important, said Kyra. In the country, the aesthetic has gotten a little looser and our work has been influenced by that. We get inspired by the pine cones we find in our yard, headstones in the nearby cemetery, sheaves of corn stalks.
Not content with simply designing the papers, Twenty2 now does it's own printing.
The digital world has expanded their capabilities and their creativity and they are now working on a collaboration with Pratt for a three-dimensional wallpaper collection.
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