May/June 2017


Strokes of Genius

The hand-painted wallpaper company Sarkos looks to the stars for inspiration.

“I’ve always loved pushing paint around and getting lost in the details,” says artist Stephanie Dedes Reimers, who, with her husband, Adam Reimers, founded the hand-painted wallpaper company Sarkos in 2015. Dedes Reimers’s passion for the field can be traced to childhood art classes in her native New Jersey. After studying fine arts at Pratt Institute, she focused both on painting and on drawing interiors for nearly a decade, after which she transitioned to more decorative work, creating faux finishes and wall murals for private residences across the country. Eventually, she realized that she could marry her affection for both the fine arts and handmade craft through wallpaper fabrication. “Many of the techniques are similar to those in decorative painting, but the sensibility comes from the fine art world.”

The Sarkos collection—which is produced in a small workspace inside the Williamsburg factory building that houses Adam Reimers’s furniture and set design company, Brooklyn Fabrication—is largely inspired by the couple’s travels to Greece, with vivid shades of blue, burnt orange, and gold. Motifs recall everything from sunlight stream- ing through olive tree branches to ripples in the ocean’s surface to the mountains. “I could sit and stare at the Greek landscape for days,” says Dedes Reimers. “When I’m there, I just feel good.”

One of Sarkos’s most popular lines, Cosmos, takes cues from the night sky, aglitter with dozens of gold-leaf specks sprinkled across the surface. Its construction has its genesis in a 12-foot-long sheet of non- woven wallpaper, cut to a specific size and coated with primer. After the paper dries, acrylic paint is applied with a brush or roller, and the sheet is hung up to dry for several days. Next, adhesive is sprayed on the paper in a loose, random manner, and a sheet of gold leaf pressed on top of it. A squirrel-hair brush is used to remove any gold leaf that doesn’t stick, after which the wallpaper is cleaned with a lamb-fur mitten. “When something is done by hand, the evidence of that hand is visible,” Dedes Reimers says. “Nothing ever turns out exactly the same way, and it’s those differences that make the work unique.” —Kelly Velocci