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WALL-TO-WALL FABULOUS T o understand how Dimonah and Mehmet Iksel revolutionized t h e w a y s c e n i c w a l l p a p e r s a r e produced, we have to travel back in time to 1988 in Jaipur, India, where their glittering worlds collided. Mehmet, the son of a Turkish diplomat living in Paris, had traveled to Jaipur to buy paintings for a friend's Istanbul hotel. Dimonah, the daughter of an Iraqi diamond dealer, had been living in New York and vacationing in Jaipur. When she couldn't decide if she should extend her trip, friends suggested she flip a coin — and staying won. The next day, Dimonah and Mehmet met by chance, bonding over their mutual love for traditional Indian miniature paintings; They married that same year. The idea to make custom hand- painted wallpaper panels came from Dimonah, who had seen beautiful neoclassical frescoes painted on panels — rather than painted directly onto walls — at a hotel in Orvieto, Italy. Soon after, they opened a studio in India and hired artisans to paint dreamy, muted watercolor scenes on canvas, such as panoramas of gardens, architectural elements, chinoiserie, and trompe l'oeil. Mehmet had developed a technique for his artisans to capture the look of aged, gessoed frescoes, which made them even more appealing. Throughout the '90s, Iksel produced hand-painted panels for an elite coterie of decorators such as David Easton in New York, Alberto Pinto in Paris, and William Eubanks in Palm Beach, who sought out the classically inspired wallcoverings for projects around the globe. The designs for their canvases and papers might have been rooted in the past, but Mehmet and Dimonah were forward thinkers: In 2001, Iksel digitized its vast archives of hand-painted panels, devising sophisticated methods of printing large scale and in high resolution, replicating their hand-painted originals onto paper and canvas. Among the very first in the design industry to recognize the potential of the digital revolution, Iksel had essentially reinvented the way fine wallpapers were made, opening the doors to new ideas and techniques. Digitization allowed them to reproduce images on panels in precise room configurations and in larger sizes not possible before, as well as perfectly match colors to room decor. Today, Iksel has more than a 1,000 images in its digital archives, ranging from antique 18th-century wallpapers to ancient Roman mosaics. Archive prints are made directly from original works lent to Iksel by dealers, or scanned directly from originals in museums and châteaux. Iksel wallpapers are now found in hotels and homes around the world and are a favorite of top designers like Timothy Corrigan and Miles Redd. Mark D. Sikes used a custom- colored version of the Iznik pattern BY REBECCA SHERMAN DREAMY AND MUTED, IKSEL DECORATIVE ARTS' DIGITIZED WALLPAPER PANELS AND SCENIC PANORAMAS REVOLUTIONIZED THE INDUSTRY. Iksel Decorative Arts' D-Rajput Fantasy wallpaper (Continued on page 94) 92

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