· By Studio


July is here, and finally we're seeing more promise that the weather is getting its act together. If you were born in July, you're lucky enough to have the delphinium as your birth flower - the showy cut-garden staple, known for its long, colourful spikes in blue and other beautiful hues. Some species bloom all summer long, making for the perfect wedding bouquet; others take up residence as tall border plants in the classic English country garden. It's such an iconic flower, it's been nicknamed 'queen of the border' - an apt fit for our Best Buds ~ Delphinium wallpaper.
Delphiniums are undeniably impressive, they are regal in stature; dangerous in their toxicity, abundant for mere months, and steeped in mythological meaning.

Their name originates from the ancient Greek word 'delphis', meaning dolphin, since the individual flower heads are similar in shape to the bottle-nosed marine mammals. Delphiniums are also said to have been named after the Delphi temple, which was constructed in honour of the sun god, Apollo. For this reason, many still believe that delphiniums bring good luck. Story has it that the flowers originally blossomed from the blood of the legendary hero Ajax, who died in combat during the Trojan War. They have ties to ancient Egypt, where they were used to decorate mummies and today, the juice of the flowers, when mixed with alum, makes mysterious shades of blue ink.

The World of Interiors recently turned their attention to this indomitable flower too, with Amy Sherlock writing on the early 2oth century photographer, Edward Steichen, who 'used his perfectionist eye to become a doyen of delphiniums, growing them and, remarkably, showing them at Moma in 1936.'

Steichen - known for his high-fashion photography for Vogue and Vanity Fair - exhibited the flowers he'd spent decades breeding and cultivating. He was, as Sherlock writes, 'in search of the purest, richest blue - a pursuit fitting for the painter he still was at the time'. This brings to mind Yves Klein's invention of International Klein Blue, the colour itself becoming the focal point of Klein's artwork. This desire to capture the ephemerality of the colour blue has concerned artists the world over, throughout history - Picasso, for instance, had his 'Blue Period' between 1900 and 1904, more recently we call to mind the startling cobalt blues of Lisa Brice's intimate portraits of female power and sensuality. Blue has forever been a colour to explore, to harness, and to experiment with.

Beyond their colour, Steichen was obsessed by the process of flower breeding itself. As The World of Interiors found, Steichen said, 'The breeding of flowers is to me a creative art... using living material that have been developing for thousands of years to make poetry.' This is an ethos CommonRoom stands behind - the idea that centuries of development is hidden behind a final product, and that anything seemingly new is actually underscored by history and knowledge, handed down through generations. Indeed, the seed of our Best Buds ~ Delphinium design was a William Kilburn sketch from 1800, reimagined by our Founder and artist Kate Hawkins as a commemorative nod to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022. As with Steichen's floral display at MoMA, our creations are underpinned by an acknowledgment and respect for those who've come before us - and, of course, how easy it is to turn to nature for inspiration.
Several of the tall 'D. elatum' cultivars in 1940 that Steichen was breeding before the war
Steichen photographing the delphiniums at his MoMA exhibition, 1936 - as seen in July's issue of The World of Interiors.


So, (much like Brice, Klein, Picasso and Steichen) we set about trying to find the perfect blue to match the hand-sketched leaves of our cheekily winking Best Buds ~ Delphinium. Where better to start than sky blue, being a hugely popular shade, with its obvious echo of summer skies and clear blue seas on hot holidays. We can imagine our wallpaper paired with either of these chosen blues in a child's bedroom, a once-neglected WC, or a lovely bright kitchen with the cabinet doors painted in one of these airy, uplifting colours.

Mylands' Wedgwood is a true cornflower blue, whilst Clear Sky by Designers Guild is cool and chalky, reminiscent of a duck's egg or, as its name suggests, that very particular shade a cloudless sky turns in the middle of a sun-drenched day.

Interior design firm Studio Vero used Best Buds ~ Delphinium in a recent Notting Hill project, pairing the wallpaper with a bespoke blue 26-4M from Papers & Paintson the woodwork. You can check out the house feature in full on House & Garden.   
These colours led us to thinking of Monet's Rouen Cathedral series. Not only do these paintings utilise that very specific blue sky colour, they also speak to the determination (and ostensible obsession) artists have had to render it on canvas. As the Met Museum notes, 'Monet painted more than thirty views of Rouen Cathedral in 1892–93. Moving from one canvas to another as each day progressed, he painted the façade with highly textured brushstrokes that convey the aspect of sculpted stone and make the atmosphere and light palpable.'

The result is a large collection of emotive, active paintings, classically impressionistic but achieving for the viewer the sensation of a sunny French day, with the promise of respite in the form of the cathedral's cool - and consecrated - interior.
'Rouen Cathedral, West Façade, Sunlight' by Claude Monet (1894, oil on canvas)


Whenever we colour-match our designs with paints, we like to shine a light on the coloured ground of the wallpaper and offer options that will either help the paper blend into the walls, or sit nicely alongside the paintwork, or leave any bright colour to the pattern itself. In the case of Best Buds ~ Delphinium, we went for tones with an organic feel to tie back into the celebration of nature Steichen was concerned with.

Coat's brilliantly named 100% Maybe is easy to use owing to its versatility and the ease with which it'll adapt to the rest of your space. Ashmolean Stone by Graphenstone is reminiscent of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum's exterior architecture, whilst Farrow & Ball's Ringwold Ground is a deliciously warm cream. This shade will need to be mixed for you at a F&B store as it's one of their archived shades.


Finally, we wanted to find a paint that would echo the orangey-yellow base of our blue buds. The real-life delphiniums have dozens of eye-like flower heads, the centre of which are nicknamed 'bees' and are magnets for butterflies.
To leave you on a cheery note, we chose a paint from Francesca's Paint's Indian Summer collection, Chari Flame, an eco emulsion that will happily offset our Best Buds - Delphinium.
Shop Best Buds ~ Delphinium.

Thanks for reading. We hope this helps with some decoration inspiration. We’d love to see how you bring our wallpapers to life in your homes. Tag us on Instagram @commonroom.co

words by Alice Hodgson
Steichen with his delphiniums - as seen in July's issue of The World of Interiors.


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