Monday, February 05, 2007

Flavor Paper: Interview

Flavor Paper is one of my all-time favorite wallcovering companies. In fact, it's one of my favorite design studios, period. (Now I may be a bit biased because I did work there, but who better to trust than a direct source?) Their patterns are creative, their colors are bold and above all, they are some of the nicest folks you'll meet. Almost all of their production is done in-house, meaning you get the ultimate in customization and quality with these handcrafted lines. Flavor Paper's wild ways have gained the attention and love of flavor aficionados such as rocker Lenny Kravitz, C.Ronson and Nike.

Flavor Paper owner, Jon Sherman, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions for designklub readers. Read below to find out more about this amazing studio - all they've been through in their first few years and what's in store for the little company that could. Also stay tuned, because tomorrow I am going to post a sneak peek of some of Flavor Paper's new designs. You get to see it here before ICFF! Yes, you are very lucky...

dk: I’ve always found the Flavor Paper story to be quite inspiring. Could you share a little bit about how you got started in design?

JS: My parents’ living room in the early 70’s featured lots of velvety texture in a range of deep blues and turquoise shades. Sitting around that room and admiring the album cover art on their albums really started my aesthetics direction for life. Ever since then, I have been consumed with designing the environment around me. After receiving great compliments over the years I finally began to design interiors for others in 2001 and it has been snowballing since.

dk: Flavor Paper is handmade, which is so admirable in today’s design world. Why have you chosen to take on this part of the production process?

JS: Originally, that was our impetus as it was a production company that went out of business that led to the birth of Flavor Paper. But a desire to control the quality of our final product and have the ability to make changes in color and design relatively easily has kept us producing in-house. We also use a combination of interesting grounds and vibrant water based ink colors that are not used by virtually any other wallpaper company which gives us our unique impact.

dk:Your studio is based in the Bywater district of New Orleans. How did Hurricane Katrina affect Flavor Paper and how are things going now?

JS: We were obviously severely impacted mentally and emotionally, but physically we were very lucky. The Flavor Lab managed to dodge the bullet of the storm and two huge pecan trees just missed us when they fell, but they did knock out our power lines. We were without power for two months and then had to communicate via cell phone and cell internet for another two months. We just got our gas service back up and running a few months ago, just in time to avoid a second winter without hot water!

dk: Some of your patterns are available in silk. Can we expect to see Flavor Paper popping up in other products such as furniture or tableware?

JS: We are working on a number of home product concepts right now, so look for those in the near future. We currently also do custom fabric prints, although we did not print the silk. There are companies using Flavor Paper in lampshades and patterns in rugs, so there is a bit out there already.

dk: What is your favorite part of the design process?

JS: I really love it all. From initial concept all the way to seeing wallpaper up on someone’s wall, it is very rewarding. I think choosing colorways for new patterns is always a favorite as you can change the feel and impact of a design so much with color choices.

dk: What has been your greatest challenge?

JS: Staying in business!!!! We have endured a flood, a fire, a train wreck and a hurricane in the past three years, so just remaining a business has been a monumental struggle and test of determination.

dk: What has been your greatest accomplishment?

JS: Staying in business!!! That and having been lucky enough to have some of the best clients and magazines recognize our talent and support us. We topped our five year plan of non-financial accomplishments within our first year. I could have walked away happy after that, but why stop now?

dk: What’s next for Flavor Paper?

JS: We are working on developing some accessories and home furnishings that we feel are lacking in the marketplace currently and could use some Flavor to perk them up. Some are partnerships and others are exclusively in-house. We will also be starting an online sales presence through a website called where we will sell Flavor Paper at a discount as well as one of a kind prints, framed panels and other treats.

Production in the Flavor Lab

Flavor Lab after the storm

Flavor Paper in rocker Lenny Kravitz's house

Thanks Jon and I'll see you at Jazz Fest! Don't forget to check back tomorrow for a sneak peek of two of Flavor Paper's new designs.

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