June 24, 2015
At Chicago’s Maya Romanoff, partnerships with other designers offer avenues of growth.
Maya Romanoff is widely admired for its breakthrough originality in surfacing materials, which have helped the idea of wallpaper evolve into something much more powerful than pretty patterned flowers for the powder room. In recent years the company, founded in 1969, has found that opening up to other designers brings new ways to enhance its creativity.
Its Chicago-area headquarters gathers a remarkable range of disciplines under one roof: hand-painting, silk-screening, beadwork, silver leaf, gold leaf, wood veneers, and more. Administrative offices are next door. “Residential and hospitality designers often want something that can’t be found anywhere else, and we can respond to their requests quickly and accurately,” says the company’s marketing director, Jessie Devereux.
Custom requests sometimes lead to new product ideas. “We inspire them and they inspire us,” says President Joyce Romanoff, widow of the company’s founder, Maya.
David Rockwell, whose firm is a global go-to source for hip hotels and restaurants around the world, was the first to promote a more formal kind of collaboration. “He came to us seven years ago, and we rethought our idea of independence,” Joyce says. “We realized he could help us develop other things, in other directions.”
The Rockwell and Romanoff teams held workshops with a diverse group that included a theater expert, a model creator, interior, graphic and industrial designers, even a jewelry maker. The resulting surfaces, some using wool-blend fabrics, evoke the feel of blankets, embroidered felt and other textiles. “We keep things simple, and the ideas are moneymakers,” Joyce says.
Joyce, who since her husband’s death last year has refreshed the company’s marketing and worked with other family members to reaffirm its ambitions, says the company is always open to other collaborations. It has one longstanding licensing arrangement, with Koroseal, which offers wallcoverings imbued with Maya’s sense for texture and light for contract and hospitality markets. “We’re always looking for other kinds of licensing,” Joyce says. “It’s a wonderful way of getting a brand even more global.”
Roger Thomas, the designer of Wynn Resorts, offers a range of his designs for contract and hospitality environments via Koroseal, as well. He teamed up with Maya Romanoff to create two hand-finished products, Tremolo and Moon Lake, that draw on his historical sense of textures and materials and Maya Romanoff’s unique manufacturing skills. It also remains a happy partnership. “Roger Thomas is the most brilliant man I’ve ever worked with,” says Joyce. “He is the most creative human being on this earth. He knows what he likes and he knows how to get it. We’re very lucky to work with him.”
At Design Commerce Agency, we continue to learn from these kinds of successful partnerships as we develop new opportunities for Maya, The Roger Thomas Collection, Koroseal and our other designer and manufacturing partners.