Jon Sherman had been designing bedrooms since 1983, but he was ready to take the next step in his interior design career—by starting a boutique hotel. He decided on a building in New Orleans with an eye on renovating its interior, and eventually got to the point where a date to sign the lease was set—unfortunately, to September 13, 2001.
“It never came to fruition,” he tells Chronogram. “We pulled the plug since all the financing dried up after 9/11.” However, Sherman had a house he was designing, too, in the Treme neighborhood at the edge of the French Quarter. Not only did it win an award from the mayor of New Orleans, it was featured on the cover of New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazine.
Knowing he was on the right path, Sherman found a defunct wallpaper company in the Bywater District and reanimated it into the company he runs to this day — Flavor Paper. “Can’t tell you,” he says when asked about the business’s old name. “The founder had passed away and given it to his brother who ran it until the wallpaper glut of the 1980s.”
In 2009, Flavor Paper migrated from New Orleans has a showroom on Pacific Street in Brooklyn, with a goal to, as their website puts it, “explore unexpected visual narratives that stay ahead of trends [and create] interior stories that are captivating and totally personal.” And now, Sherman has designed the the third floor main space of the 2019 Kingston Design Connection Showhouse.
Sherman describes his main design goals as creating a sense of proportion and scale, creating color harmony and playing with modernity versus tradition — all while avoiding dated trends. (“I like to create timeless patterns and concepts that will never get tired even as they grow old,” he says.)
Naturally for a wallpaper designer, Sherman uses repeating patterns and colors to gently instill a theme with his images. To home in on the history of the building, he chose a wallpaper from Flavor Paper’s Elysian Fields collection in a “shimmery lavender” color, featuring bats and Venus fly traps hand-screened on linen clay coated paper using water-based inks.
Sherman aimed to “address the needs and interests of the family as they live and play on the third floor.” He began by taking a 1614 pastoral etching scene and turning it into a massive mural, complete with an etching of a griffin and a family name and crest. For the ceiling, Sherman chose his Camellias line of wallpaper, with a twist on the background color: “We switched out the chrome background for something a bit more classic and classy for the dining room,” he says.
All in all, Sherman doesn’t see his approach as fundamentally different from the other showhouse designers—for good reason.
“I'm really excited to see how all of the designers followed their own path,” he explains. “But generally, [all the designers] came to the same conclusion that respecting the historic elements of the house while pushing forward modern elements and concepts, which unites the entire house."