Everything about Flavor Paper is larger than life. The company’s origins are dramatic, its early years cataclysmic, its printed wallpaper—the result of dedicated craftsmanship and a mod (and sometimes post-mod) sensibility—dazzling.
In 2004, owner Jon Sherman caught wind of a defunct ’70s wallpaper company, its designs and machinery slated for destruction. He had a mere 48 hours to decide to purchase the business and arrange to move its equipment and patterns to New Orleans. There, Sherman set about reviving and refreshing the decades-old designs, maintaining traditional screening and printing methods while bringing an artist’s eye for accuracy and detail. In its first three years, the studio experienced a steady stream of adversity, withstanding a flood, fire, and multiple hurricanes—including Katrina.
In spite of such calamitous conditions, the fruits of Sherman’s efforts are a visual feast: Cycloid, a repeated pattern of circles within circles, lunges almost three-dimensionally, while Chinatown Toile riffs on the conventional motif with scenes of vendors weighing produce and people napping on benches.
Naturally, then, the Flavor Lair (Flavor Paper’s Brooklyn, New York, headquarters, since it expanded beyond New Orleans in 2008) doesn’t disappoint. Designed by Jon Kovel of the Portland, Oregon, architecture firm Skylab, the Flavor Lair is a multiuse production facility, office, and showroom as well as a literal home for Flavor Paper—Sherman and two other employees have apartments in the building. Floor-to-ceiling windows and overhead mirrors allow passersby a view of the printing facility, which produces papers for the likes of Lenny Kravitz’s design studio as well as W Hotels. In the showroom, space-age white couches face giant rotating racks of wallpaper. On the roof, loungers topped with pillows covered in Flavor Paper designs printed on Sunbrella outdoor fabric—a new venture for the firm—provide groovy resting spots. Sherman and his old friend Mac Carbonell of Verdant Gardens collaboratively conceived the raised-bed garden, which consists of sweeping grasses and ground-covering plants punctuated by tall columns of panicum ‘Northwind.’ The result is a colorful, textural meadow that, against the backdrop of the roof deck’s black fence and the birds and butterflies it attracts, resembles nothing so much as roll of Flavor Paper.
The garden is the cherry on top for Sherman, echoing his passion for “playing with designs, scale, and color.” “Seeing someone’s space completely changed and their joy with the result is what keeps me going,” he adds. And, being able to create one of Brooklyn’s most design-savvy buildings probably doesn’t hurt, either.