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Wallpaper collector Frank Cassata opens up his fabulous collection to WHS

Updated: May 18, 2022

If you’re lucky enough to visit the picturesque spot of Southampton, Long Island, an area settled in 1640 by the English, you might want to beat a path to an extensive collection of wallpaper and textiles which has been 30 years in the making.

Former architect and interior designer Frank Cassata fell in love with vintage textiles early on in his career and was soon seeking out swatch books from across the globe, a mission which lead him on to wallpaper and earned him the moniker ‘The Wallpaper Guy’. Soon people were getting in touch offering him wallpaper books from across 70 years of production and helping him build the impressive collection he owns today.

WHS was delighted to host Frank for the first of our new-format Zoom talks on May 5th when over 60 people enjoyed a richly illustrated presentation introducing us to just a fraction of his finds. Choosing papers from 1880-1970, Frank traced a historic path through a number of themes from roses, tropicals and geometrics to trees and Asian-inspired patterns, describing papers drawn from France, England, Germany and the USA and relating them across the decades.

Blowsy roses in iridescent colours twining through bamboo trellis work from 1910 were contrasted with the stylised Art Deco flowers of 1930s French papers and the cabbage roses beloved of designer Dorothy Draper in the 1950s, while 1970s roses owed more than a small debt to their early 20th-century cousins.

Geometrics embraced tooled leather effects and Egyptian motifs and it was interesting to learn that these were popular for the ceiling, known as the ‘fifth wall’. Frank’s particular favourites were Swedish monochromatics in muted neutrals from the 1950s and West German designs in browns and greens from the 1970s. In contrast, French papers always appeared to adopt bolder, richer colours to illustrate the theme.

A trip through the Orient (as imagined by wallpaper designers) produced many scenic papers dotted with pagodas and arched bridges, while lanterns and fans proved perennial favourites well into the 1950s. As Frank concluded his talk with calming tree designs from low-key 1950s abstracts to 1970s flocks we were aware of what a treasure trove he has amassed.

After time for questions we were able to thank Frank for his generosity and wonderfully illuminating presentation which had us all wanting to book flights to the Hamptons forthwith.

Lucy Ellis

WHS has more interesting talks in the pipeline - check our News and events page and Instagram for notifications


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