The increasing accessibility of high-design, mass-produced home goods–thanks to Ikea, CB2, and Target’s new collab with Dwell magazine–is at once a blessing and a curse. As well-designed furniture and decor proliferates, so does the homogenization of the home. Fortunately, a pair of Minneapolis designers is combating generic design with She She, a new firm that creates custom, hand-painted wallpaper installations and textiles featuring original illustrations. Founded by illustrator Kate Worum and interior architect Jennifer A. Jorgensen, the brand has debuted its first two projects. The first was “on a pony she named wildfire,” a toile pattern based on a self-reflective trip the pair took up north to Crosslake, Minnesota; the second, “Paco y Maria,” is a design inspired by symbolism and visuals found on a recent trip to San Francisco celebrating passion in romance, friendship, work, and the self.
I spoke with the designers about how the collaboration came about, their design process, and their plans for the brand.
How did She She come about?
Jorgensen: “We met through mutual friends at an art gallery one night and hit it off. Later, I was given the opportunity to design a room for the American Craft Council Show earlier this year. Instead of painting the walls, I thought it’d be cool to do a wallpaper. Since my room was supposed to be inspired by the direction of north, I thought it’d be cool to do a north-inspired wallpaper. We created our first wallpaper together for that room. I was in a booth for eight to ten hours a day and got feedback from what I’d done, and it was polarizing–some loved it and some thought it was horrible. (She laughs.) All good ideas in design are polarizing, so we thought, let’s do it.”
she she’s “paco y maria” installation, 2nd Truth Photography
What’s the design process like?
Worum: “The design process starts with a loose idea for the aesthetic of what the wallpaper will be. I have been doing a lot of the illustrating, but Jenny has started to lend her hand as well, so it’s truly designed by both of us. We sketch and paint and create it into a repeated image and then project the final design on the wall. From there, we trace the pattern by hand directly on the wall, and from there we start painting. We leave a little bit of room in the design to paint on top of to give it a more custom feel.”
Jorgesen: “While She She is a passion project for both of us because we both have other things going on, we enjoy it so much. Beyond that, it’s created this beautiful friendship with each other. Every wallpaper does come into existence because of something that happened in one of our lives. It has been somewhat of an emotional journey for us. It is like a story of our lives in some way. I think the story of each wallpaper is important.”
Worum: “I feel like with a lot of different art, whoever is making it ends up pouring a piece of themselves into it–it’s inevitable that happens.”
What inspires your designs?
Jorgensen: “Kate and I fire each other up and come up with ideas. The blue one was inspired by a trip of San Francisco, and we had this ongoing conversation about life, we took pictures of things and compiled them at the end of the trip.”
Worum: “If we’re lucky, we’ll travel to get inspiration. Otherwise, we create image banks of inspiration. Our first wallpaper projects very personal to us, which worked because they were in our own spaces. For clients, we want them to reflect their own life. We approach the design to find the story we can be inspired by, and make the design special for whoever’s space that is.”
she She’s “paco y maria” installation, 2nd Truth Photography
What kinds of clients have you been taking on so far?
Jorgensen: “A lot of our first clients were clients that hired me to do design work in their homes, and as we ideating things, wallpaper may come up, and I suggest, what about hand-painted wallpaper? Otherwise, it’s been primarily word of mouth.”
Worum: “Jenny has had her practice started, and I have my practice started, so we’re getting requests from Jenny’s world and mine. We’re open to a range of clientele, from residential to commercial.”
Do you have any plans to create non-custom retail products?
Jorgensen: “We’re not against it, but our vision wasn’t to start a wallpaper company and send out of rolls of wallpaper.”
Kate: “Nothing is set in stone, but we love the idea down the road of having a portfolio and collection of work and prints that people could potentially choose from and order paper rolls of. I think right now we want to focus on the custom piece of the business and grow into that.”
she she’s “on a pony she named wildfire” installation, 2nd Truth Photography
What projects do you have coming up?
Jorgensen: “We’re going to Chicago the first week of January to do a custom wallpaper design for a coffee shop there. Shortly after that, we’re working on a Mid-Century modern custom wallpaper for a kitchen install locally.”
What’s your dream project?
Worum: “One of our huge dreams would be to create patterns for a boutique hotel–the walls, the furniture, the lobby, everything in the space. We’ve started making furniture and decor more a part of the wallpaper design, so for instance, we’ll take the design of the wallpaper and put that onto furniture or throw pillows.”
Jorgensen: “The way I think of it is the opportunity to transform a room with our total vision, pattern being one of the driving forces.”
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