How did the duo decide to create a wallpaper company?
Somebody said the word ‘wallpaper’ at the exact right time. Stephanie had been doing custom painting work (on-site specific) for some time, and had a few unique designs she was playing around with, holding them in her back pocket for a special project to come along. She showed these to one of her commercial clients, who loved them, but never hired her for their residential projects because, as they explained, their clients prefer to have something installed in 3 days, as opposed to someone working in their space for 3 months.. And that was it! We went on a long overdue vacation in the only fashion we know how - 6 weeks, in Greece. During this trip we talked and sketched and became endlessly inspired by what we could do. When we returned, Stephanie put all other work aside and hit the hustle, I kept working my design and build company while moonlighting on wallpaper-collaborating and decision-making, and SARKOS launched 8 months later.
Sarkos (pronounced sar-KOS with a hard O) is an ancient greek word that translates the tactile sense of our human and earthly spirit, it is of the flesh, and of us, as human beings; this sense correlates with what we are in search for with SARKOS - creating atmospheric, spirit-filled, inspirational spaces.
Both the name, Sarkos, and some collections, are inspired by Greece. What types of experiences have you had in Greece that have created such great influence on your designs and brand as a whole?
My (Stephanie here) father grew up in a village along the Korinthian Sea, Domvraina, Greece. He immigrated to the US at age 17. Unlike the rest of his family, he did not return to his home country for a very long time; he was fully immersed in the United States. So when my parents took my siblings and I for a lengthy first trip, finally, I was 14 years old. What stuck with me year after year from that trip was an utter fascination with the mountainous, rocky, dry landscape and an intense desire to return. In my mid-20’s I took a trip to Europe on my own to travel around for a few months. I planned to go to Greece for the second time and spend, maybe 3 days with my family in our village; I stayed for 3.5 weeks and I only moved along because everyone else was flying back to the US or going back to work in Athens. I had never felt like this about a place. In Greece, I feel good. I feel that I have roots there. My body feels restored. My brain works wondrously slow and fast at the same time and a resulting calm motivation is over me all the time. As I breath the air, as I see my family and friends, as I look around at the awe-inspiring mountain landscape, the seas, the olive groves, I feel completely at home.
(And I am the luckiest person alive because Adam took to Greece his first time there in the exact same way I did years back.)
Your luxury wallpaper is 100% hand-painted - tell us about your production process…
We love doing everything completely by hand! When designing new lines, we always take into consideration exactly how the seams will line up differently, and this is worked into the design from the get-go. First, we prime all of our wallpaper panels with a mold-resistant primer, with a roller. Then, we apply the base and top coats with a variety of much-loved brushes. Between each coat, panels hang to dry and cure over the course of a few days. For lines that have leaf applications, we apply our leaf sizing in the designs’ specific manner, roll out squares of leaf once the size has tacked up, and then burnish away the skewings with gilding mops and wool mitts. All of the processes are carefully watched over and considered, most especially the leaf applications. It’s all a lot of work, but it’s what we love to do, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
What are some spaces using Sarkos wallpaper that you’re particularly proud of?
Every single one of our installations! Because we do everything by hand, each order and thus each installation is unique in and of itself. Each panel has a slightly different ‘tilt’ and seeing that in every installation makes us very proud, and completely happy! With that said.. If we had to pick favorites, our COSMOS line has been applied on numerous ceilings and this makes us giddy every time..
Sarkos sells wallpaper and paper framed original paintings - what are some of your best-sellers?
COSMOS is by far our best selling line! Our colorway, ELIKONAS, the darker graphite color, is first, with KORINTHIAN SEA, the blue sea obviously next, with the sun HLIOS in third place. ONEIRO and AVRA, with their soft, undulating waves of color, are other best sellers. We think our STRIATIONS - MOTHER OF PEARL with it’s fancy, sexy, layers will be giving the other two lines a run for their money soon!
How does Sarkos prepare for a design conference, trade show, or fair?
We usually have a quick meeting to talk specifics - time, location, constraints - soon after deciding to participate. From there we both throw ideas around our own heads, and sometime later, over dinner or a nightcap, we’ll begin to talk our ideas through with each other. From there we’ll make drawings to hash out the ideas, and then we dedicate however much time is needed to make our test pieces and design the space.
When installation day comes, we are nervous and excited; we then bask (preferably with our feet up) on the beauty of our labor, and that of our fellow designers.
In your opinion, how do the walls of a room affect the way a person may feel in the space?
So very much! What surrounds us can help us feel lifted up, cradled or weighed down, fiercely inquisitive, relaxed or claustrophobic. While wallpaper is two dimensional, our original designs are wildly full of depth. Installation on a large scale allows viewers to get lost in their own thoughts while meandering their eyes through the brushstrokes with their slight ‘imperfections’ or bursts of gold in a night sky. Our wallpaper has space to it; it allows us (and we think many other people too!) to rest our minds and to go down a wonderful path of thought at the same time. Because no two strokes are ever the same, there is something new to explore on every inch our panels. Wallpaper, as such, happens to be the perfect culmination of our individual creative wants and needs; the wallpaper medium takes the sensibilities of what we do well professionally and of what we crave to see in front of us, and allows us to envelop ourselves in it - as well as whomever else would like to join in!
What are 3 tips of “best practices” to offer interior designers for choosing the right wallpaper and making the most out of wallpaper when decorating a space?
For us, sheen is such an important factor! When we ask, ‘What will be great on this wall?’, we first think about the feeling we want the walls to evoke and sheen is a great place to start. Do you want the reflection of something.. somewhat glossy, or metallic? It’s a bit more energized and sexy in certain way.. Or is super, velvety matte that someone really gets lost in and absorbed into (completely sexy in a very different way..) the right move?
Think about how the design of the wallpaper will move through the space - considering the furniture pieces, any artwork, and what the lighting will be in the day and night-times.
For our wallpapers - hire a seasoned professional and trust their opinion (In NYC & surrounding areas, we can’t recommend Three Fingers Painting enough).
How do you feel about recent wallpaper trends, such as “feature walls”, or “unexpected accents”?
We think accent and feature walls are a great way to go in tons of situations. When the colors and pieces around an accent wall are perfectly in tuned with that wall - the result is a highly sophisticated space. This is also a fantastic way for people with a smaller budget to be able still add some more incredible beauty to their world (and to just note here, we have no minimum order for this very reason!). With all of that said, in an equal amount of environments, where the budget is possible - being completely submersed by all walls around in the atmosphere our wallpapers create - this is something very special indeed.
What’s your focus for 2017?
We’re so excited to be gearing up for our 3rd year in business (which is in May)! Every year has been unexpected and brilliant and we love to see all the new directions we find ourselves in.
Our clothing line in collaboration with Olivine Gabbro will fully launch with a show in February! We can’t wait for this - we have been working with Grace Kang and her crew closely, figuring out how to apply our Cosmos design to her fabric. It’s very special. We will be offering a printed version of the clothes, as well as a hand-gilt version.
For the Architectural Digest Made Show in March, our second year here, we will have our booth intertwined with our friends at RexHill furniture company, which is making the show even more fun for us. We met them at the show last year, and saw that they are all about subtle luxury in the same way we are - a match made in design heaven.
We will also be showing a few object pieces that we’re currently prototyping - and that is really exciting. We have ideas of launching small editions of furniture pieces every now and again - just things we really want to make and to have - to compliment our steady streams of wallpaper panels.. We will also launch a new line, and lots of new colorways for our existing lines, just prior to the show.