Magnolia: Classic & Timeless Wallpapers
Magnolia is an interior design business based in Brisbane, Australia. They initially started as a home boutique store featuring antiques and homewares sourced by owner Robyn McKendry. Now Magnolia has launched into the wallpaper space with designs featuring florals and patterns that play with scale and color. The inspiration for these wallpapers was ignited by the discovery of a beautiful antique toile quilt in markets outside of Avignon in the South of France. Magnolia wallpapers showcase the classic beauty of the past in a new fresh way. We caught up with Robyn to learn more about her beginnings and her inspiration.
Image above is the Chinoiserie design in the Milk Green colorway
M&K: Tell us a little about yourself. Where you’re from and where you grew up?
RM: I was born in Papua New Guinea but have spent most of my life in Brisbane. I have four children and a grand daughter with another baby on the way.
M&K: How did you get started in home wares and interior design? What were you doing prior to opening your business in Brisbane?
My husband and I started renovating houses a long time ago and I was asked to do work for friends and family as a result. The business grew from my kitchen table over 30 years ago. I worked from home and then a studio for 6 years before opening Magnolia Interiors, initially with one of my sisters. My original motivation was to stock product that was not readily available in Brisbane and I am pleased to say that 21 years later, it is still bubbling along. The business is unusual in that we offer a retail space with a decorating service and the process has proven to be successful.
Image above is the Treillage design in the Blush colorway
M&K: What are some design styles that inspire you the most? What sort of design insights could one expect when they come to Magnolia?
RM: I am definitely a classicist and although we can be swayed by trends, I feel our decorating is timeless and gracious in its approach. I see our decorating as a long-term proposition and use fabrics and furniture that reflect an investment rather than a trend. My clients are long standing and the business has grown by word of mouth. We take pride in our work and the relationships we have developed with our clients.
Image above is the La Grand Coquille design in the Powder Blue colorway
M&K: You are now diving into the world of wallpaper with 6 new designs. What prompted you to want to get into wallpaper?
RM: As a retailer in a world of internet search engines, I decided that I wanted to create a product that was exclusive to Magnolia. We are currently working on reproducing our designs onto fabric which is very exciting. As mentioned prior, the first designs come from an antique quilt I bought in the markets in the south of France. I originally contacted a girl in the UK to help me translate my ideas but it proved too difficult with Covid. I did, however, take some of those original designs to India and we made a lovely range of napery which we now sell in the shop as part of our Magnolia core range.
Image above is the Chinoiserie design in the Emerald Green colorway
M&K: It seems out of the new designs, they fall into two categories, the floral/chinoiserie style and the stripe and scallop designs. Out of all the designs, do you have a favorite?
RM: The Chinoiserie was the first and really the stripes were developed as accessories which will work particularly well as fabrics. I love the Chinoiserie as it is a fresh twist on an age old classic. The green is my particular favourite and the first we developed.
Image above is the Chemin design in the Beige colorway
M&K: You teamed up with Bethany Linz to help you realize your artist vision. How did that process go?
RM: I contacted Bethany as I was familiar with her work and we started a long distance relationship which I have loved. We didn’t meet for over a year but she is a wonderful, gentle creative and we have developed a lovely friendship along the way. Bethany is incredibly patient with me as I tend to throw a thousand ideas at her and see where we go. The palette is very Magnolia and a range of colours I could happily live with at home.
Image above is the Rosa design in the Navy colorway
M&K: What’s on the horizon for you and Magnolia?
RM: In between papers and fabrics, we are producing a range of furniture in the Philippines which should be available later this year. We have again tried to produce lovely classic old shapes into lounges, arm chairs and side tables. I have also been working with a company in Vietnam to produce a lovely range of bedlinen. We have just received a commission of lamps which were made by a ceramicist in the UK which is very exciting.We also have designed a small range of Magnolia soft furnishings including a sofa and armchairs which we are thrilled with. I had started working on a furniture range from India but am sitting on my hands at the moment due to covid. So there are lots of irons in the fire and I have really enjoyed the entire process to date.
Image above is the Coquille design in the Forest Green colorway