For more than 10 years, London-based designers Bruno Basso and Christopher Brooke created groundbreaking digital prints in the fashion world, winning critical accolades and the patronage of chic and sartorially adventurous women. Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Rihanna and Iris Apfel have all donned the Basso & Brooke label, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute has archived their work.
Last year, the duo waded into the interior design world with Jupiter 10, their brand of modernist wallcoverings. Thirty new patterns, all named for international destinations, have since been added. Here, they talk to us about travel as an inspiration and how digital technology is redefining luxury.
Every wallpaper is named for a city. What inspired you about these locales?
BB: The ideas for the patterns came from revisiting our fragmented memories of places we’ve been that left an impression–a small detail of a traditional Japanese confectionery we had in a tea room in Kyoto, Japan; a marquetry floor in a grand ballroom in Vienna; a cactus garden in Tulum, Mexico; or a faraway view of a fortress in the Amman, Jordan desert, for example.
Is there a place you never tire of visiting?
BB: Portugal is a fascinating country with an extensive history of pattern. Right now, we’re restoring a 100-year-old house in the Portuguese countryside and are constantly amused by the color palettes of the beautiful azulejo tiles and the exteriors of houses. The combinations are eccentric but sophisticated.
CB: Broadly, Japan has always inspired us; there’s an inherent mystique and history of pattern in the country’s fine papers and textiles.
Speaking of papers and textiles, how does designing wallpaper differ from fashion?
BB: The fashion industry gave us a unique insight into trends. Collections are presented at least twice a year, so we were forced to be very prolific with new designs. The interior design world has a longer shelf life; prints transcend seasons. With wallcoverings, we are able to create something with lasting appeal.
Your wallpapers read as maximalist, yet the inspiration is often minimalist midcentury modern. How do you strike that balance?
BB: We were never interested in recreating a pastiche of midcentury modern designs in new colorways. We’ve always taken our cues from masters like Frank Lloyd Wright, Lina Bo Bardi, Gio Ponti and the Bauhaus–those who distill ideas and express a bolder visual message.
CB: The Jupiter 10 patterns may read as maximalist, but they’re composed of very simplified shapes and forms; we think the playful colorways add a strong contemporary appeal.
Has digital printing changed the process?
BB: On the technical side, new machines have higher color accuracy and resolution. New inks have more vibrant hues. Silk and grass cloth can now be embellished digitally. On the creative side, there’s more freedom, color precision and speed in making a sample. You instantly see results and that can be very inspiring.
CB: The process is also a much more environmentally friendly a air than traditional methods. The printing inks are water-based and our non-woven substrates are made from recycled materials. There is very little waste compared to the old way of printing wallpaper.
How is technology transforming the concept of luxury goods, which are often handmade?
CB: Digital printing allows us to tailor products to a client’s wishes with far less minimum quantities required. We recently completed a project for Dimore Studio at the Arts Club in London. They wanted our Nairobi design printed onto a textured grass cloth. We often receive requests from design studios, architects and interior designers who require very specific colorways. With the digital process, we can customize color by matching to Pantone references. This adds a luxury aspect where the final design is made specifically for the client.
What’s next for Jupiter 10?
CB: Right now, we’re focusing on wallpapers, working on the best worldwide distribution, but we’ll be looking to expand into coordinating rugs, upholstery fabrics, tiles and china in the near future.