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Sidewall, Listen and Record

This is a Sidewall. It was designed by Ilias Fotopoulos. It is dated 2009 and we acquired it in 2010. Its medium is screenprinted and flocked on paper. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

Listen and Record was created by Ilias Fotopoulos, an artist and designer based in Sydney, Australia, who studied textile and fashion design at the University of Technology, Sydney. Fotopoulos became frustrated when he could not find textiles engineered to suit his design needs and began to experiment by exploiting existing techniques such as heat pressure, boiling, stripping, and clamping. These techniques became the source for his first collection of textiles and wallpapers, produced in late 2003.
This paper is from the designer's second collection, introduced in Tokyo in 2007. While it appears to be simply a textural composition of flocked red polka dots, the design of Listen and Record, literally tells the story—in Braille—of how this paper was created. Fotopoulos recorded his voice every day over the course of a year. At the beginning of the second year, he listened to the tape dated a year before, took a 10 minute break, and then recorded his current thoughts over the original.
The use of typography or text as a design element in wallpaper goes back to the 1870s, when it was used in children’s papers and served an instructional rather than a decorative purpose. While the text in Listen and Record is illegible to most, it nevertheless creates a decorative pattern visible to many. The red flocking on the white ground carries a lot of punch and creates a satisfying textural arrangement.
Listen and Record presents a unique take on typographic wallpapers and would be the first wallpaper in our collection by an Australian designer. The museum’s sizeable collection of typographic wallpapers includes those by notable designers such as Alexander Girard, Jean Lurçat, and Abbott Miller.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Braille wallpaper.

This object was donated by Ilias Fotopoulos. It is credited Gift of Ilias Fotopoulos.

Our curators have highlighted 17 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Sidewall (England)
  • block-printed and flocked canvas.
  • Museum purchase from Friends of the Museum Fund.
  • 1938-44-1

Its dimensions are

L x W x D: 1000.8 x 71.2 cm (32 ft. 10 in. x 28 1/16 in.) Repeat H: 119 cm (46 7/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Sidewall, Listen and Record; Designed by Ilias Fotopoulos (Australian, b. 1966); United Kingdom; screenprinted and flocked on paper; L x W x D: 1000.8 x 71.2 cm (32 ft. 10 in. x 28 1/16 in.) Repeat H: 119 cm (46 7/8 in.); Gift of Ilias Fotopoulos; 2010-27-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Sidewall, Listen and Record |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 May 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>