He wasn’t born in a Voysey bower, David Berman attests, but he practically went to high school in one: what’s now Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, whose 1917 brick building had half-timbered ceilings and walls darkly wainscoted. In its library, he discovered a picture of a William Morris-decorated room at Wightwick Manor (a bastion of Morrisiana) and fell in love with Arts & Crafts.
More browsing led him to Charles Francis Annesley Voysey, the English designer whose work spanned the years 1875 to 1940. After college, Berman spent four years restoring old houses on Nantucket, then moved into Trustworth, a grand, Shingle Style “cottage” in Scituate, Mass., which he restored during a 12-year lease while making custom furniture and lighting. After a plan to buy the house didn’t work out, Berman decamped to his current Shingle Style digs in Plymouth, where he experimented in wallpaper design as Trustworth Studios. Using an Epson printer with a tiny print head that did all the colors, he printed his first wallpapers in 2003. The first seven rolls took 17 hours to print.
The technology has improved. He prints on vellum—standard wallpaper ground stock, but omits the clay coating that gives commercial papers a glossy finish. On a trip to England, Berman stumbled over a trove of about 100 Voysey renderings being used as working drawings by a now-defunct carpet manufacturer. Alarmed that they weren’t being conserved, Berman photographed all of them and got the rights to reproduce them. More patterns came from a former Voysey employee who’d saved them during the Blitz. Many of Voysey’s colors are experimental, faded, or mere suggestions. Even so, “they just create a nice harmony. There are times when I feel like I am in his head.”