By: Ashleigh VanHouten

We had the opportunity to speak with Elena Cummings, trade show coordinator for York Wallcoverings and the artist behind York’s stunning 3D wallpaper creations. Here’s what Elena had to say about working for York, and how much work really goes into creating a 3D lion made from wallpaper!

AMMC: Tell us how you came to work with York Wallcoverings.
Elena: I was an art student; I studied Interior Design at the Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts. I graduated in 1992 and began working for York Wallcoverings in 1995. I’ve been here going on 20 years. It’s a great company to work for; our business is always changing, and our jobs are always changing, so it’s always a challenge. There’s no boredom! As trade show coordinator, I manage all the domestic and international shows—overall, I manage about 15 shows, although Heimtextil is our biggest.

Heimtex Carla Purple Antonina Vella

Hand-stiched haute couture made from York Wallcoverings wallpaper, Heimtextil, 2009

AMMC: Talk about your 3D wallpaper creations.
Elena: The idea initially came about for our Heimtextil shows, and we’ve done so many different art pieces: dresses, cascading flowers, and animals, like the lions we did for the show last year. The biggest challenge is shipping them! The work is definitely a collaboration: I work with a creative team comprised of Gina Shaw, Ashley Vizzi, Meg Pitner, LeRue Brown and many other staff that helped in the labor-intensive work of cutting thousands of pieces of paper! First, we decide a theme, then I figure out how to make that theme come to life. For the lions, we used Disney as an initial inspiration and utilized topiary cages as the base for our animals. Between the conception and actual creation of the pieces, the lions took about two months.


AMMC: What are the challenges/advantages to using wallpaper in this way?
Elena: York wallpapers are great for this kind of creative project; the variety of color and texture is amazing, and there’s great flexibility for manipulating and folding. It’s very dependent on the project what kind of paper we use. For example, with the lion we used mylar. If it was done in another paper it might not have looked the way it looked –very shiny and glitzy, which is what we wanted.


AMMC: What’s the reaction?
Elena: At the shows, people definitely stop and ask questions. It’s really a magnet for conversation. And once the shows are over, we bring them back and put them up around the offices, where everyone can enjoy them, or in retail stores. After all the work put in, it would be a shame not enjoy them!


AMMC: Any new projects or installations coming up?
Elena: We’re already looking ahead to next year’s Heimtextil. In 2015 we will be celebrating York’s 120th anniversary, so we wanted to do something a bit more traditional. We’re thinking a park theme—an old man sitting on a park bench, reading a paper with the headline, “York’s 120th anniversary.” We’re excited once again try something completely different and see where it goes!