Sian Zeng interview: whimsical wallpaper and the Etsy Global Design Awards

We talk to the graphic designer of quirky wallpapers about her life and work

Sian Zeng interview. Photo by Veerie Evans.

Sian Zeng’s wallpapers combine whimsical backgrounds with moveable magnetic elements for a truly interactive experience that appeals to adults and children alike. We caught up with her to talk about her life and work…

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How did it all begin?

For my degree show project I came up with the idea for Magnetic Woodlands Wallpaper, complete with magnetic creatures that people could use to act out their own stories. My prototype received a lot of press attention and so I decided to explore my ideas for the home further.

Sian Zeng interview. Photo by Veerie Evans.
Photo by Veerie Evans.

Shortly after finishing uni, I launched my company, making fun, affordable homeware. Hilary Duff’s interior designer saw my magnetic wallpaper prototype online and placed an order for her son’s bedroom.

This enabled me to put my first wallpaper design into production and start launching new collections.

What does the rest of 2020 hold for you?

We have plans to launch a range of new products later this year. We’ve been testing several new materials and one of them is a magnetic chalk surface sticker material, which can be easily hung and removed multiple times from the wall, making it ideal for homeowners and renters.

Sian Zeng interview. Photo by Veerie Evans.
Photo by Veerie Evans.

This will be made into a collection of cloud shapes, houses and animals. Customers will enjoy drawing on the chalk surface and customising their space in style.

Can a home be both stylish and practical?

I almost feel that for a house to truly become a home, these two elements have to be present and complement each other. Take my drawing tools as an example.

Sian Zeng interview. Photo by Veerie Evans.
Photo by Veerie Evans.

Having them out on the table all the time would look messy, yet stowing them away at the end of every day just isn’t practical for me. So I decided to buy a beautiful tray to house my tools, which looks great and keeps my dining table clear of clutter.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I’m often inspired by the places I visit. Last summer, I went snorkelling in Croatia and came across a beautiful shoal of small fish swimming around me.

Sian Zeng interview. Photo by Veerie Evans.
Photo by Veerie Evans.

I remember thinking what a great pattern this underwater scene would make for a wallpaper. I’ve now designed the artwork for this wallpaper so the fish are large and the swimmers small and it’s shaping up to be our next collection, which we plan to release later in the year.

What’s your proudest career moment?

I’d have to say last year’s Grand Prize win at the Etsy Global Design Awards tops them all.

Sian Zeng interview. Photo by Veerie Evans.
Photo by Veerie Evans.

We received recognition for our strong, storytelling branding and our Magnetic Dino Wallpaper was crowned the winning piece.

Who would you love to collaborate with?

I’ve always admired the photographer Tim Walker. His imaginative approach has been hugely influential in the artwork I create. If he were to use one of my designs on the walls of his sets, I would be thrilled.

Sian Zeng interview. Photo by Veerie Evans.
Photo by Veerie Evans.

For more from Sian, visit sianzeng.com

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Feature Alison Davidson. Photos Veerie Evans. Styling Charlotte Love.