Interview with Julia Bancilhon, Founder & Creative Director at Wallpaper Design Studio: Made of Matter

Made of Matter is a brand new wallpaper design studio aiming to shake-up the UK wallpaper industry. The new collection features 22 of my own collage artworks (I’m originally an artist) which have been reimagined into a series of maximalist wallpaper patterns.

We’re digitally printing all of our wallpapers to exact dimensions for our customers, meaning no excess printing and no rolls of wallpaper that are never used. We’re also offering a bespoke service for customers, interior designers, and architects who I will work in collaboration with to create designs for individual projects. We have also just launched a new virtual wallpaper showroom – the first of its kind to incorporate VR technology to retail wallpaper in this way.

For this, I’ve invested in a 360 online experience that has brought in VR technology and turned shopping for wallpaper on its head.

I have partnered with the new digital start-up NSCENA, founded by digital architect Palma Piedrahita, and together we have created an immersive online experience that’s allowed us to create a surreal e-store experience without any physical or creative boundaries.

This is a reflection of my artworks that only unravel their stories as you look closer into them, discovering the individual, unusual elements that make up the construction. I wanted customers to have the same bewildering experience as they shopped for these designs online too – to really understand the brand I’m trying to create. What we’ve developed is brave, creative and completely unique which really sums up what Made of Matter is trying to do.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I studied Graphic and Media Design at the London College of Communication (UAL), with a focus on printmaking. After graduating in 2015 – and starting a role as a graphic designer for music festivals in the UK – I began producing collage artworks and presenting these at exhibitions in both London and Paris. In 2016 I happened to discover a box of sealed, vintage wallpapers at my Grandmother’s house in France and it got me thinking about using wallpaper as a canvas on which to present my works.

I turned this concept into a reality for an exhibition I launched in Hackney in 2017, covering the walls of the gallery with wallpaper featuring my artworks. The feedback from guests was incredible, with many wanting to purchase the wallcoverings there and then. It was this that initially planted the seed for Made of Matter, and I started forming an idea for a company that was built around responsible wallpaper production and what that could look like.

It was not until the pandemic hit in 2020 – when I was put onto furlough from my job as Head of Design at a tech startup – that I decided in a ‘now or never’ moment that I was going to take an unexpected next step in my career and make this brand a reality. This then entailed defining the brand – setting a clear differentiation in the UK market in terms of product aesthetic, manufacturing and a new concept for e-commerce. It was at this point that I partnered with Palma Piedrahita, who was also embarking on her own start-up tech firm NSCENA that created virtual spaces for brands and artists.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The company really established its whole architecture as a reaction to the pandemic. During the early days of lockdown, I was presenting my artworks via virtual exhibitions online using new technology developed specifically for artists to showcase their works to customers due to all of the art-show cancellations. A friend of mine had also adapted his gallery business to become completely virtual during the pandemic and showed that it could be a successful business model with more and more customers becoming VR savvy, and more confident to purchase online. It gave me the confidence to establish Made of Matter as an online-only presence and invest purely in online technology to engage and interact with new customers.

With the whole boom in the interiors market during the pandemic, I was also mindful of all of the other new start-ups out there and what they were offering to customers. The market has become increasingly crowded following the pandemic, and this made it vital I evolved the brand to have a real stand-out with a strong point of view. If anything, this drove me to be more experimental with my designs and ideas. I saw a gap for a young, luxury wallpaper brand that would appeal to a design-savvy audience that wants something eccentric but at the same point extremely chic but also with a strong focus on sustainability.

What can we hope to see from Made of Matter in the future?

We’re currently researching how to make our wallpaper from different types of organic waste as the raw material which is an extremely fascinating process, and one that I’m really excited about making central to the brand in the future. We’re also starting to expand our designs onto a range of homewares including tablewares and textiles, working with collaborators who are using upcycled materials and more responsible production. Everything I’m doing is trying to link to more responsible consumption, and aiming to minimise waste.