Malene Barnett's New Wallpaper Collection Brings Fine Art to Your Walls
Malene Barnett creates art in many forms. The multi-disciplinary artist and founder of the Black Artists + Designers Guild designs handwoven rugs, carves complex markings into ceramic tiles, fuses brilliantly colored portraits from cut glass, and handcrafts intricately patterned clay vessels. Her latest venture draws inspiration from her ceramic work and translates it to a whole new medium: wallcoverings.
Barnett teamed up with Lulu & Georgia to launch a line of colorful wallcoverings directly inspired by her unique art. The Kindred Collection includes five lively, tactile wallpaper styles, which repeat the geometric shapes, dotted patterns, and rippling lines found in Barnett's work. "All of the patterns were either carved or hand-painted, and they're all created intuitively without any preset pattern," Barnett says.
Barnett's inspiration traces the path of the African diaspora, from West Africa to the Caribbean to the United States, and her process builds on traditional techniques used by makers in these communities. "My vessels are always paying homage to the ancestors and looking at different Black cultural traditions in making, whether it's ceramics or textiles," Barnett says. "I like to merge the two mediums and really look at how things are made. Incorporating these processes into my work allows me to connect with the art as well as the community."
The colors used in the Kindred Collection also hint at global traditions. The Heritage wallpaper, for example, utilizes a chalky white color that's used in various spiritual ceremonies, Barnett says. The terra-cotta color of the Alaari wallpaper reminds of the clay-rich soil found throughout Africa, while the Bequia print blends the bright turquoise of the Caribbean Sea with the rich indigo blues historically used for dyeing textiles and clothing.
From a distance, the wallcoverings offer subtle texture and a wash of color, but a closer look reveals the intricate details that make up these works of fine art. The designs look especially striking when used to cover an entire room—and that's exactly the application Barnett pictures. "I envision this collection really embodying spaces, not just covering an accent wall but truly filling a space," she says.
The wallcoverings range in price from $168 to $178 per roll, and they're available exclusively on Lulu & Georgia's site. Each one is suited for use in all spaces, including bathrooms, and can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Application requires wallpaper paste, and professional help is recommended for removal.
By channeling the work of artists and makers around the world, Barnett hopes to inspire others to embrace and learn about different cultures while celebrating the joy inherent in them. "It's an opportunity to reimagine and connect to your space in a different way, both spiritually and aesthetically," she says.