Designer Finds Inspiration Everywhere

John Mahoney’s Art Could Hang In Your Home

Wallpaper’s got a bad rap. Long the home decor choice for overzealous grannies and tacky rich people, floor-to-ceiling paper products have nearly become a thing of the past: a throwback to the days of yore.

Luckily there’s a new breed of wallpaper creators intent on bringing interior coverings back to the forefront. New York City’s Studio Printworks specializes in fine accoutrement, offering the consumer dozens of unique creations.

John Mahoney’s just one of the Studio’s army of artists, but he’s also one of the best. We caught up with Mahoney recently to chat about his definition of home, kimonos, Frank Miller, the Quakers, art and, of course, wallpaper.

See what he has to say for himself – after the jump…

Andrew Belonsky: I’ll start with a question I’m asking almost everyone: what’s your definition of home?

John Mahoney: My definition of home – hmm, can you give me a minute to brainstorm out loud? Home is a sanctuary – whatever that means to different people, whether it’s comfort, security, family, health. Home is more of a concept for me than an actual place.

AB: Where are you from, originally?

JM: Minneapolis.

AB: What was that like?

JM: [Laughs] My home growing up was just a mishmash of difference. Cultures and time periods and histories. My father did a lot of traveling in Africa in the 60s and our home was filled with African artifacts and Zulu shields and African drums and – My parents both did a lot of traveling. We had paintings – sand paintings from American Indians, English antiques, French antiques. It was just such a jumble.

AB: That explains your varied inspirations: Ndebele wallpaintings and Frank Miller. I imagine your parents’ travels had a lot of influence on your own aesthetic.

JM: Exactly. Our home was always very eclectic. There would be a priceless antique next to a piece of folk art that had come from a yard sale. It was a wonderful mixture of high and low and old and new. I think that was the biggest defining factor for my ideas about home furnishings and design.

AB: A mixture of high and low?

JM: High and low, yeah. And a very eclectic approach and a very personal, artistic approach. I think that a really inspiring home for me is a reflection of the inhabitants’ pace and experiences and memories and dreams. They’re not perfectly matched. They’re not even necessarily comprehensible or linear. I think most of us have – our backgrounds are kind of a jumble and an inspiring home reflects that.