Collection by Shonquis Moreno

Cole & Son Factory Tour


Cole & Son, a London-based wallpaper manufacturer established in 1875, recently launched its collection of autumn wallpapers, including a particularly striking harlequin pattern of overlain colors called "Circus" that proves the 136-year-old company can do modern with as much depth as the historical. These papers are manufactured—"manu," by hand, being the operative root—barely north of central London in Haringey, where the tiny Cole & Son factory rolls out a quarter of a million meters of high-end wallcoverings per year. On the ground floor of the two-floor warehouse, a 130-year old machine sits beside a shinier digital printer of a mere 30 years. Though they don’t look old enough, some workers have been there for decades and have children working there too. “It’s like anything you do,” says a screen printer named Jason who has been mastering his craft for 25 years. “You just get used to it and then it’s easy.”

Circus is part of an uncharacteristically geometric collection that Cole & Son is debuting this fall.
Looking down on the street-level factory floor, new and very old printing machines sit side by side.
One of the older machines on the factory floor.
Vast, 300-meter-long rolls are threaded into the machine to begin the printing process by applying a solid base coat.
Printer rolls are carved with a particular pattern and inked by being rolled against a woolly felt, rubber-backed pad...
Flocking is an extremely labor-intensive process.
Shelves hold rows and rows of print rollers.
In the paint mixing area, colors are concocted by eye, not by precise formulas.
Like a wine cave or a vintage humidor, this archive contains about 3,000 numbered, carved pearwood pattern blocks used...
Each patterned wood block costs between 3-5,000 pounds sterling to replace.
The archive also contains some print rollers, as well.
Upstairs are stations for block and screen printing that are separated by “festoons,” swagging ribbons of printed paper...
During screenprinting, ink is applied over a gauze-y screen patterned with very fine holes and then forced through the...
During block printing, color is applied under the pattern.
A gorgeously cluttered archive of rolls and remnants can be used by designers or to match old patterns that clients...