I had the opportunity to speak to Ben Saunders at Bowerbird Bazaar, I was fascinated by his unique contemporary designs. They were clean, dynamic and at the same time quite whimsical. Together with his business partner Silvia Cseh they created a design company is called Walls That Talk. It is quite distinctive in that it offers a range of vinyl wall and window decals that can be used to decorate virtually any smooth surface. Their graphics have additional flexibility in that they are removable, so as tastes change so too can the wall decals. Feature walls inject colour into a room, they are an area of focus that can create ambiance or influence mood.
Ben originally became interested in Design through his involvement in Theatre and Music. He began designing posters and programmes for theatre shows that he was involved in and then decided to study formally. He completed an advanced diploma in Advertising & Graphic Design at TAFE as well as many short courses in various software packages and drawing classes.
Both Ben and Silvia have been influenced by many Scandinavian designers as well as minimalist architecture. The Australian landscape also is a considerable influence as they operate out of Stirling in the Adelaide Hills.
As a Graphic designer you essentially work for your client and what they want, it helps if you have a broad knowledge of design.
Winter Birch forest is a selection of lithe tree trunk shapes extending from floor to ceiling. Negative space is a feature of this decal as chips of background wall colour have been allowed to show through the trunks imitating the bark of a birch. Smaller twigs jut forth breaking the flow of line creating interest by protruding into the larger negative spaces. This design breaks up the stark dark wall with a pleasant rhythm applying an elegant contrast to the space. It is important to note that the use of vertical line and direction often introduces an aire of balance and formality. Organic shapes, such as these, applied to a space convey a relaxed feel. The lack of strong contrast is also important as too strong a contrast between the colours of the trees and the background would detract significantly from the furnishings.
I enjoy fun, quirky design elements in rooms and “Bird Cages” is one decal that provides a charming element to a wall. This design would be perfect in a reading room, lounge or child’s bedroom. Again Saunders has used line in his creation coupled with the dark bird shapes. By using variation in the height, shape and size of the cages he has delivered visual interest. They eye floats comfortably about the design. Again the vertical lines suggest elegance with the repeated shapes unifying the three cages. The art nouveau inspired cages are balanced in their use of line. In this work we see the use of harmony and discord to provide visual interest. The shapes of the birds are harmonious in that they are essentially the same, discord has been introduced to provide interest as each of the birds is either facing a different direction or flying away. I love the little bird flying forth from the open cage door.
The happy owls on a branch wall decal is perfect for a children’s room or a room that may require a little brightening. I enjoy the use of negative space and repeated shapes. This coupled with the smooth flowing lines of the tree branch creates a visual mechanism to gently lead the viewer’s eye from left to right. The design is balanced by the larger owl on the right. By using naturalistic, organic lines Saunders has created a pleasant, informal feel. The colours in this work can be varied depending on the existing wall colour of the room.
One of their feature designs is Dandelion flying on a summer breeze. This design evokes those childhood memories of blowing the seed pods off of a dandelion flower into the wind. This design utilises repeated and overlapping shapes to create interest and unity. The organic line work demonstrates an interesting rhythm throughout the space. The flow of the design is non-linear; as the petals take to the wind they can flow about the wall or window surface and land wherever they please. This element of the design provides the owner tremendous flexibility, one can subtly highlight features of a room through the application of various seed pods.
When I look at the work of Walls That Talk I am reminded that good design should never be more than it needs to be, their ideas may seem to be simplistic at first but they exercise restraint. In a world that is becoming more and more complex this is an endearing quality.