Mark C. O’Flaherty
When the Basso & Brooke women’s fashion label first hit the runway in London in 2004, it detonated a trippy, technologically driven paradigm shift. A new millennium had arrived, and everyone from Kylie Minogue to Michelle Obama wanted to embrace the look that came with it. Designers Bruno Basso and Chris Brooke were pioneers in digital imaging on fabric—creating complex, vivid, and swirling imagery, including Byzantine fractals and Japanese florals—shaping garments with innovative pattern cutting that elevated and matched the graphics meticulously. They took inspiration from Aldous Huxley, Louis XIV, and personal road trips to Siberia. They were a London sensation that went global, and their digitally printed clothing was the first of its kind to be archived at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. When Kanye West was preparing to move into fashion in 2009, he spent a considerable amount of time (alongside Virgil Abloh, the future artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton) being mentored at Basso and Brooke’s tiny studio above their house in Peckham, South London. “He was interested in understanding the technical aspects and potential design impact of digital print and the feasibility of incorporating this innovative technique,” remembers Brooke.
Their label became world-famous, but working as an independent business in an industry that reinvents its products twice a year proved exhausting: “We lost our 30s to fashion,” says Brooke. Burned-out, they pivoted to interiors, launching wallpaper brand Jupiter 10 in 2016 with the same pixel-powered graphic energy that they brought to fashion. They also renovated a sprawling, architecturally remarkable 1918 farmhouse a short drive outside Porto, Portugal, and decorated it with their designs, establishing a second home and creative studio.
“Our first collection for Jupiter 10 came out of research we had done while traveling,” says Basso. “The ideas for the patterns were inspired by anything from the simple detail on traditional Japanese confectionery in a tearoom in Kyoto, the marquetry floor in a grand ballroom in Vienna, a cactus garden in Tulum, or a faraway view of a fortress in the Amman desert. We take cues from masters like Gio Ponti, the Bauhaus, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Lina Bo Bardi. Our patterns may read as maximalist, but they are composed of simplified shapes and forms.”
While the papers are all made in England—in Lancashire, a county that played a crucial role in the industrial revolution (the first wallpaper printing machine was patented there in 1839) and is now known for some of the finest wallpaper manufacturing in the world—the biggest market for Jupiter 10 is the U.S. “A lot of our business is via interior designers on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Brooke. “Dimore Studio in London used our Nairobi print for the walls of Leo’s bar at the Arts Club in Mayfair, and then we were picked up by Martyn Lawrence Bullard for his L.A. showroom.” Zoe Feldman, a Washington, D.C.–based interior designer, has used Jupiter 10’s designs for numerous projects. “They provide an opportunity to play with shape and color and employ a graphic moment,” she says. “Being able to create a bespoke colorway is a fun aspect, but also makes it highly personal.”
The Jupiter 10 range now features 250 designs, and while Basso and Brooke won’t reveal figures apart from confirming twofold growth year over year, they are making significantly more from wallpaper than they ever did from fashion. Their quality of life is much improved as a result: They take time off, have grown an orchard in Portugal, and have three dogs and a cat. Basso has even created an offshoot business—developing elaborate commands for A.I. imaging for private clients—and also uses A.I. for a third venture: landscape architecture. It’s fitting that Basso and Brooke are now immersed in rural Europe. “With Jupiter 10, we are focused on sustainability,” says Basso. “We don’t create peel- and-stick papers because they contain PVC and other materials that aren’t environmentally friendly. There’s a trend for them, but they’re wasteful—the whole backing layer goes in the trash.” Their digital printing is more energy- and water-efficient than screen printing, and there are no prepress stages involving toxic chemicals. Over the next five years, they want to scale up the business globally, and there is talk of “more accessible” products (11-yard rolls start at $202) and a sibling brand.
“Ultimately we will stay true to our ethos,” says Brooke. “We are about crafting unique, story-driven wallpapers that transform spaces into personal havens. Each pattern, each color, is imbued with a purpose and narrative. Interior designers and individuals now want something that makes more of a statement and adds personality. A lot of that’s to do with taking inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest—people are more aware of interiors generally. We are doing what we have always done, but with wallpaper, it’s appreciated for more than just a single fashion season. And that’s deeply satisfying, because we want our prints to be loved and lived with for a long time.”