Historical wallpapers for the home

By , a staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Having passed through the minimalist era when 'ornament was crime,' designers are again beginning to experiment with more pattern and color. The renewed interest in historical styles and decorative effects is rippling through many areas of the home-furnishings industry.

As fresh evidence of this trend, a new group of wallpaper reproductions based on the extensive collection of documented papers at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York is now available to the public through home decorating and furnishings stores.

''The Cooper-Hewitt Collection,'' as the new reproductions are called, consists of 11 wallpapers based on patterns from America, France, England, and Switzerland that date back as far as the 1700s.

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The designs include florals, Oriental- and Middle Eastern-inspired designs, papers with trompe l'oeil effects, and borders. Two of the papers, ''Toile Normande'' and ''Sake,'' dating from 1800 and 1801 respectively, are especially subtle in design and have a very contemporary feel.

The borders in the collection would be particularly useful in adding architectural interest to plain modern rooms without a cornice.

In addition to their appeal for enhancing both contemporary and period decor, all the papers in the collection have historical significance. The graceful ''Fuchsia Trellis'' pattern originally printed in France and England, for example, represents the growing stylistic influence of Japan on Western decorative arts after Commodore Perry negotiated a trade treaty between Japan and the United States in 1854. Another design, called ''Jacqueline,'' originally came from the walls of the mansion in New York where Washington installed a headquarters during the Revolutionary War.

The historical papers collection is produced by Brunschwig & Fils Inc. in collaboration with the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.

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