Behind a nondescript storefront in Ferndale, a not-so-quiet revolution is taking place. It has to do with something fairly traditional that, for decades, has gone in and out of fashion: wallpaper. Except The Detroit Wallpaper Co. is anything but traditional. The company’s unique approach to producing a classic design element is helping to establish it as a go-to source for those interested in innovative interiors.
Take their “Music Wall” design, which features depictions of vintage guitars, amplifiers, and turntables. “We love music at The Detroit Wallpaper Co.,” writes co-founder Josh Young in their catalog of designs. This will “make your walls sing.” (The guitars on the “Music Wall” design can be pink instead of gray, if you prefer, because every design is customizable.)
For those who love to buy local, here’s another thing to sing about: The Detroit Wallpaper Co. produces every roll at the company’s small warehouse space in Ferndale. The paper is eco-friendly and tear-resistant, meaning it can be stripped off in whole pieces rather than coming off in bits when you try to remove it. And if you’re not interested in breaking the bank, you can buy one roll at a time.
“This is not your mother’s wallpaper,” says Andi Kubacki, Josh’s business partner and the chief creative mind behind the company’s designs. “We’ve got a punk, DIY aesthetic.”
Of course, if punk doesn’t match your style, there are countless other looks, like the “Botanicals” series. Poppies, willows, palms, and onion skins — to name a few — can be ordered to look as traditional or edgy as you want, depending on the thousands of color combinations available. The “FABric” series is a collection of traditional patterns like herringbone, houndstooth, paisley, and lace that can become more modern with exaggerated scales and updated hues.
While the owners of The Detroit Wallpaper Co. have no plans to move their operation — both Kubacki and Young say they are inspired by the “soul” of this city — their work is gaining national recognition. The duo has been dogged in their pursuit to get their story out to designers across the country, and it seems to be paying off; several restaurants in Tampa, Fla., now sport Kubacki’s original wallpaper designs.
Kubacki first started the company as a super-specialized “wall art” firm that largely catered to one-time artistic projects. He is a mechanical engineer by training and a fine artist by birth. Did someone want a picture of the family dog plastered from floor to ceiling? Kubacki could do that. Commissioned murals? Sure. An exact replica of a favorite wallpaper print from the 1960s? That was easy, too.
“We found that a lot of people had no idea that this kind of stuff could be done,” Kubacki says.
But as artistic as the work seemed, Kubacki — who is also a master of graphic design and branding — longed for more creative control. The DetroitWallpaper Co., which launched last November, is the result.
Kubacki and his team create each original design. Producing each roll in-house keeps prices affordable (covering one 10 x 8 wall will run an average of $450). To top it all off, the client still has a say in the final product because of the availability of so many customizing options.
As Kubacki and Young point out, this is unheard-of in an industry that has traditionally produced thousands of rolls in foreign factories that must be bought in bulk. Wallpaper shouldn’t be treated like a commodity, the pair says.
“What we’re really trying to do is elevate wallpaper to an art form,” Kubacki says. “It’s what you can do to really transform any wall in your house into a piece of art.”