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Twisted Toile: Witty Wallpaper & Home Accessories With A Modern Toile.

Wallpaper has made a huge comeback as an interior decorating option in the past 2 years (not to mention wall decals, vinyls and stickers...but that's another article).

In addition to bringing back foil stamped retro-patterned papers, textured seagrass walls, contemporary florals and graphic repeating patterns, several designers have taken a humorous stab at Toile, the classic french wallpaper design. As a result, there's a fabulous collection of tongue in cheek, slightly macabre, satirically suburban and just plain goofy options to choose from.

Jessica Smith, a textile artist and designer in Philadelphia, has taken the Toile de Jouy form and made it modern, witty and political. Her hand-printed toile wallpapers offer lighthearted social commentary.

Specializing in the design of textiles, wallpaper, and china, Jessica Smith uses elements of domestic design to explore contradictions. Although her products seem innocuous enough at first glance, upon further study, they often contain highly ironic commentaries on contemporary life, remixed within well-known historic textile patterns.

Above: French Toile de Jouy in three different color examples.

“Eighteenth-century French toile depicted pastoral scenes with classical ruins, ladies in frilly dresses on swings,” Ms.Smith said. “I wanted to make my own pastoral countryside, and the countryside of American is the suburbs.”

Trash Day, (above), is a homage to the day when suburbanites put the trash on the street for collection. Also available in several color variations.

Spying on China, above, shows and American spy plan over a Chinese landscape, a reference to a collision between such a plane and a Chinese jet in 2001 off the coast of Hainan Island. Also available in several color variations.

Cars Go Beep 1, above, has delicately rendered Hummers on the New Jersey Turnpike. Also available in several color variations.

And Cars Go Beep 2, above, has a double vision version of its predecessor.

And above is Jessica Smith's South Beach Toile. Ms.Smith is just one artist revamping traditional wallpaper design.

Yee-Haw Toile (above) comes in subtle colors or contrasting colors.

What at first glance seems like traditional toile, but upon closer inspection is revealed to be oil wells and bucking broncos, is a fun western twist on the french pattern. Designed by Paul Loebech, this too is printed by Studio Printworks and can be purchased there.

Ms.Smiths & Paul Loebech's wallpapers are available at Studio Printworks, 650 Newark Street, Hoboken, NJ (212) 633 6727 or

Another wonderful eerie and perhaps even grotesque take on Toile is by Timorous Beasties.

above: What at first looks like a damask-like toile is revealed to actually be a devil's face up close.

Above is one of my favorite all time wallpapers, Iguana and Insects, looks like formal flourishes until one looks closer (right) and sees birds, insects and iguanas.

Their London Toile looks an awful lot like the traditional Parisian toile until you see that people are being mugged and more.

And while the two below toile patterns from Timorous Beasties below (left; pineapple and right; pheasant) may not have any "twist' on them, they are nice options from traditional toile. And are available in two tone color variations and well as several single colors.

Shop Timorous beasties wallpaper here.

Timorous Beasties Twisted Toiles are also available as lace curtains:

Buy Timorous Beasties Devil and Thistle lace curtains here.

And their fabulous London Toile is also available as bone china here.

Lest you think toile is only suitable for your walls, below are four different twisted toile patterns designed By Groovy Q.

Pattern shown clockwise from upper left: Suburban Sprawl Toile, Girl Power Toile, the Classic Tom of Finland Toile and Vice Toile.

Available in pillowcases (and sheets):


even gift wrap:

Buy Groovy Q toile products here.

Town Toiles makes a line of products that range from aprons and tea towels to wallpaper, fabric and gifts in their own "city" patterns:

Above are just four examples: New York, Charleston, Nantucket and Boston. They also have San Francisco, Tampa, beach and Nautical patterns.

Shop Town Toiles here.

Buy them here.

And lastly, one of my favorite takes on toile is by Historically Innaccurate Decorative Arts where Richard Saja takes classically traditional toile fabric and embroiders such modern day icons as UFOs, bunny eras and Mohawks atop it:

Learn More about Richard Saja's work here, on his blog.

16" x 20", cotton/linen shell, 95/5 feather and down insert.Price: $184.00

Or buy the above Toile & Tats Anarchy Pillow here.

and don't miss Saint Honore's modern toile wall tiles, read about those here!

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