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Brunschwig & Fils Book Wallpaper

November 19, 2013

Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall

Earlier this month, the New York Times ran an article in the style section featuring a dining room covered in a trompe l’oeil bookshelf wallpaper. I hate this room. The article is all about how much the author loves her wallpaper, how she spent years searching for just the right room to hang it in. For me, that room would be in hell.

My loathing is only partially aesthetic, though I do shudder at the look of the thing. The garish color-scheme, combined with the scale of the visual clutter, makes an invisible vein start pulsing sharply just above my right eye.

But in truth my aesthetic issues are as dross when compared to my philosophical problem: You have a nice big room there, with nice big walls. Those walls are crying out for bookcases. Bookcases filled with actual BOOKS. And you have chosen, instead, to cover the walls with a fugly cartoon of books, a kind of wink-wink/nudge-nudge send-up of the notion that you and your family would ever, you know, read.

What I’m about to say will be true only for roughly a nanosecond longer, as the universe moves inexorably to electronic media. But in the world in which I grew up, in my world, people who love books scramble to find the space on which to shelve them. We double-stack, we pile up teetering towers on our desks and coffee tables, we think longingly about complicated arrangements involving pulleys, sliding walls, the bookshelf equivalent of Murphy beds. Here’s what we don’t do: We don’t devote perfectly good flat surfaces to a display of pretend-books, to a graphic that only looks like a shelf of books if you squint and are on your fourth martini. We don’t flip the bird to books.

What’s particularly astonishing to me is that the author of the article makes it clear that she regards herself as a Fan o’Books, as a bibliophile. And I think, yeah, that’s like someone who buys a blow-up doll, names it Marcia, calls it his girlfriend, and thinks of it as evidence of how much he loves women.

(Pictured: Bibliotheque pattern by Brunschwig & Fils)



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