That’s the question many people asked Andi Kubacki and Josh Young at their first design trade show, in the spring of 2013.
The reaction was understandable. Maligned for its frumpy patterns and agonizing adhesives, wallpaper was long relegated to the décor dustbin. But a new generation is discovering wallpaper, and Kubacki and Young are at the vanguard of its revival. The Detroit Wallpaper Company, which they co-founded, specializes in customizable wallpaper in a broad range of modern patterns and colors that are, as its former tagline attests, “not your mother’s wallpaper.”
The company offers more than a dozen collections with designs ranging from bold geometric shapes to botanical imagery and patterns informed by everything from Moroccan architecture to electronic circuit boards, reflecting Kubacki and Young’s wide-ranging interests and intellectual curiosity.
“Psych,” inspired by the Rorschach inkblot test and Young’s college studies in psychology, was created from dozens of ink blots made by Kubacki and an intern that were digitally scanned and assembled into an elegant, abstract pattern. “Record Shelf” at first looks like simple rows of lines, but on closer inspection turns out to be a pattern depicting vertical stacks of records — a nod to the business partners’ love of music.
Launched in 2012, The Detroit Wallpaper Company pioneered the concept of wallpaper customization. Each design is available in different paper types, from an eco-friendly material to a metallic grass cloth, that are easy to install and remove. Customers can choose from several color schemes or create their own for a combination no one else might have.
“We have a culture of customer service,” said Young, 39. “You can have wallpaper your way, from the color to the type of material.”