Artist and designer Roxana Eslamieh of Manuka Textiles creates hand-drawn, silk screen wallpapers informed by the artistic process.
By Rachel Gallaher
Manuka Textiles Shibori Banding wallpaper in metallic gold on azurite blue. Courtesy of Manuka Textiles.
Textile designer Roxana Eslamieh was studying Art at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Fine Arts in Los Angeles when she became disillusioned by the idea of the rectangular frame. Looking past this traditional ‘piece-on-a-wall’ format, Eslamieh, who launched her textile design studio, Manuka Textiles, in 2016, decided to focus on the wall itself as a canvas.
“Art in a box is digestible,” Eslamieh says, “but on a wall, it is larger than the human scale and I think it is important for people to see something immersive and grander than themselves. It is important for us to feel small. Art can do that.
“I was looking for a vehicle that could self-replicate. It was print. I was looking for a vehicle that could step away from the frame of art. Honestly, I didn’t move that far away. Walls are really not that large. Hence, I landed on wallpaper.”
Manuka Textiles Pressed Cane wallpaper in crow black and metallic gold on matte black. Courtesy of Manuka Textiles.
Working out of a studio in the Eagle Rock area north of downtown LA, Eslamieh creates hand-drawn, silk screen wallpapers inspired by her surroundings (nature, cityscapes), travel, and craftwork such as weaving. Growing up in Southern California in a house decorated with 70s wallpaper, Eslamieh developed an appreciation for the eccentricities of Los Angeles’ design scene at a young age, and she embraces a bold aesthetic approach. Intricate patterns and organic shapes in saturated colors (rich gold, deep blue, heather-purple) elevate these wallpapers beyond being just another design element in a room into modern heirloom pieces.
In addition to wallpaper, Eslamieh has also designed rugs, but so far has only created custom pieces for high-end residential projects. “I am transitioning into seeing this object as a work of art, that is only produced as a one off,” she explains. “Never replicable.”
Manuka Textiles Rift wallpaper in metallic gold on bone white. Courtesy of Manuka Textiles.
The designer admits that she doesn’t sleep much and while everyone else is getting their nightly eight hours, she’s up thinking, creating and sketching. When asked about her process, she credits Sundays as being a particularly fruitful day for inspiration and sketching.
“Many people immortalize Sundays, as do I,” she says. “It is truly a day where you can unplug and take a mental health day. On Sundays, I find gardens. I find jungles. I find urban ruins. And there I am awakened! It is unbelievably fun! I take with me a pen, so simple, right? And some Japanese rice paper. Nature scribbles happen, doodles are drawn. Something magnificent appears on the page. It is ok if it's ugly. No one will see. That is the process. Just being and doing constantly until something happens.”
The latest collection from Manuka Textiles, Tactile, interprets classic textile forms, such as warp and weft, with a fresh approach. It also taps into fundamental art-making processes such as mark making (the different lines, dots, marks, patterns, and textures created in an artwork).
“My latest collection was a study in mark making,” Eslamieh explains. “That is very overused terminology, but it has grown to have more and more meaning to me over the years. Mark making is what we may also associate with primitive artwork. The very foundation of understanding how the visions of our minds might translate onto paper, or better yet walls.”
She also gives a nod to the idea of escape, something that’s been on everyone’s minds over the past 10 months. “Whether a walk in the evening, wine at twilight, or constantly planning tropical vacations, I live for the folk-inspired, story-like lifestyle,” she says. “And because of this, I travel. I travel to faraway lands. Ruins in Mexico. The wild Wall of China, the Jungles of Costa Rica. And this is what I try to capture in the drawings of my papers. I want to capture faraway textures. Unimaginable landscapes. Perhaps visions that may only occur when your eyes are closed. To sum up this collection, dreamscapes. A chance to live freely in another world. Simply by staring endlessly at a wall.”