Five Qs: Josh Young of Detroit Wallpaper Co.

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Josh Young, who co-founded Detroit Wallpaper Co. with Andi Kubacki in 2012, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about the importance of online representation and partnering with Detroit-based organizations including Pewabic Pottery.

1. DDN: What projects are you working on now?

JY: We’re doing a line of wallpaper based on the tile designs (of Detroit-based Pewabic Pottery). Pewabic was founded in 1903 in Detroit, and creates really well known, high-end work. It’s all handmade, low-runs, so what’s great about our collaboration is we’re going to be able to get their designs into peoples’ homes using a little bit more cost-effective vehicle, which is the wallpaper. So they can have the look and feel of Pewabic, and a lot of it, but still being very cost effective.

We’re also designing wall murals (of images from the Manning Brothers’ photographic archive) on wallpaper. The family photographed Detroit from about 1860 to the 1950s, and they have some amazing images showing the growth of (the city). With these collaborations, we’re taking the name Detroit Wallpaper Co. from the figurative and giving it a real, literal spin in that Detroit-based design institutions are able to present their work in a way that hasn’t been done yet to the décor market. It all fits into our message (that) we want people to “Think décor, think Detroit.”

2. DDN: What were you doing before starting Detroit Wallpaper?

JY: When we first got started in 2004, we were doing purely custom work (through our original brand, Great Wall Custom Coverings, which we still operate to this day). Clients were submitting their ideas, photographs, and artwork, and — at the end of the day — we were just kind of getting across the clients’ vision. With the most current iteration of our company, we have the ability to get our aesthetic out there. It kind of bridges the gap from fulfilling the client’s desires to fulfilling our own.

3. DDN: Where has your wallpaper been featured?

JY: Last summer, we were featured in Dwell magazine, which is an institution for high-end modern design. They had their made-in-America design issue, and one of our wallpapers, called Turn Key Chevron, was featured in their regional styles picks. So we were out there representing the Midwest with this really cool, modern, geometric pattern. We’re really trying to be a part of that (modern design) world, and to have our work showcased in that was really quite thrilling.

4. DDN: Who are your customers?

JY: We’re working with a lot more local clients than we have before, but we ship all over the country, and all over the world. We ship to the Middle East with some regular frequency, but the United States is still our largest market, (with) New York, California, Texas, and Florida (being) states that we do a lot of work with. Primarily, our client base at this point is interior designers that come directly to us to service their clients.

5. DDN: How important is your website to your business?

JY: An overall arching theme that we’ve been seeing is this movement away from the standard way to shop for décor, which is looking around the old showroom system, where you and a designer would go to a trade-only showroom and look around. Now, more and more people are looking online for (décor purchases), which we’re huge champions of. It makes the work more accessible to people who don’t necessarily have access to these brick-and-mortar locations or to a designer. To be able to find these products online is a great equalizer. It makes good design available to everybody.

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