Wallpaper Wonderland – Alpha Workshops

Back in the old days of design school, I remember announcing to anyone who cared to listen that “wallpaper was horrible stuff”.   And in my defense, back in the 90’s, it was.  Nasty, boring, trite, beige colored stuff.  Often with a little ducky border at the top.

Oh my, have things changed…

Oh So Faux

Consider the lovely patterns and colors available from decorative arts company, Alpha Workshop.


Fun, colorful and handmade, these wallpaper patterns are everything 90’s wallpaper wasn’t.  But Alpha Workshop is more than just a maker of beautiful, handmade decorative wallpaper.

It is also the only non-profit, decorative arts organization dedicated to training and employing people living with HIV/AIDS.  Based in New York, Alpha Workshops provides a creative, flexible, supportive workplace for those dealing with the medical and social issues that come from dealing with a chronic disease.  They even keep an eye on sustainability…


Says spokesperson Nora Schaddelee:

“While we don’t officially state that our wallpaper is “green,” we do strive to stay sustainable and we do whatever we can within our process.We use commercial wallpaper stock, not vinyl.  Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a supplier for recycled wallpaper ground, but we are always on the lookout. We use water-based Benjamin Moore paints with low VOCs.  Our wallpapers are made by hand, using no machinery. Thus, no toxic by-products and no emissions. Each wallpaper is made to order and in custom lengths so there is very little waste both in production and for the end-user.

Since we are a non-profit, we often receive paint and materials donations from the design industry that would otherwise be thrown away. Much of these materials get a second life within our training program where our students learn the basics of decorative arts techniques.”


Because Alpha Workshops produces all their papers to order, they are able to provide custom lengths and colors.  They also make lamps, tables, and can design props for retailers and event decor.  They even have a decorative finishing service.  All this as a way of providing gainful employment for skilled workers who might not otherwise be able to find a job.

So, like so many interior designers, I now run around pretending that I always knew that wallpaper could be cool.   I just never knew it could be THIS cool.

One Response to “Wallpaper Wonderland – Alpha Workshops”

  1. Ruth Says:

    Thanks so much for this post. We have a couple of new wallpapers that we’ll debut at ICFF in May in New York that I think will make you love wallpaper even more.

Leave a Reply