Eastern Palace WITH Sam Wilde
A graduate from the Royal College of Art, Sam’s practice represents the intersection between visual art and surface design. Informed by his academic background in Natural Sciences, Sam’s creative philosophy unites creative depiction with the evocative charm of the natural world.
Tell us a little about the history of Eastern Palace?
Peter Gomez, Lead Designer at Zoffany, suggested I illustrate a repeat pattern themed around the concept of ‘Edo mysticism’. From there I came up with three concepts centred around a Japanese wetland, snowy mountain and deciduous forest. Each of these distinct worlds would individually highlight the wildlife native to their region of Japan and intertwine with local folkloric traditions. The overall idea was that these worlds would feel quite liminal, sitting somewhere between reality and surreality.
As time progressed, we decided to refine down to just the wetland kingdom, themed around the concept of the four main islands of Japan, with each being represented by one of the four seasons. But mid-way through I changed the wetland to a river, as it felt like an apt metaphor for the flow of time. Rather than keep it empty, I instead decided to pepper it with aquatic wetland vegetation, so that the river still felt like a richly biodiverse place, teeming with life.
What might draw people to the Eastern Palace story?
The Japanese word fuubutsushi marks the moment of nostalgic anticipation we feel for the changing of seasons. It’s the understanding that each precious moment in the flow of our lives is fleeting.
On a human-level, the feeling of experiencing a transition is something that we can all relate to, whether that’s moving to a new area, falling in love or even letting go of the past. Each transition brings with it transformation, and each of these transformations has its own unique beauty, just like the seasons.
I hope those who do decide to bring ‘Eastern Palace’ into their homes and spaces will take solace in this world and let their imaginations run wild in the river of seasons.
Where do you see Eastern Palace working best?
One of the strengths of ‘Eastern Palace’ is the endless river that weaves throughout the repeat and ties the world together. The flow of water felt like an apt metaphor for the flow of time. Following its course downstream, through the seasons, stopping off to visit each island along the way.
Any double-height space would be a particularly evocative choice for the world. This is so you can fully appreciate the spectacle of the seasons as winter, spring, summer and autumn continually meander into one another.
What is it that you particularly love about Eastern Palace?
I think ‘Eastern Palace’ encapsulates my signature worldbuilding approach to pattern creation: a grand epic that sits somewhere in between fine art and surface design.
Great consideration was taken so that each and every element within ‘Eastern Palace’ builds to form a logically cohesive scene, filled to the brim with nuanced symbolism and immersive detail. A feast for the eyes, where years on you'll still be spotting new details hidden within.
I think those little noticed details are my favourite part of this world. The pocket of lilies that grow only beneath the bridge between summer and autumn, the flags that flutter with the Eastern wind or the “shimenawa” ropes decorated with paper streamers that adorn the shrines and indicate that mischievous spirits reside within them