Wallpaper designer Emelia Simcox spent her childhood covered in glitter and paint, exploring huge, prop-filled studios. As the daughter of scene-designer parents who created large-scale backdrops for the Elizabethan Theatre Trust Opera Company (now Opera Australia), she was immersed in the realm of make-believe and knew, one day, she would follow in her parents’ creative footsteps. “It was wonderful fun and I fell in love with the idea of creating an entire new world on a piece of thin canvas,” she says.
After school and a brief stint studying theatre design at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Emelia trained as a scenic artist at Opera Australia. Time in London’s theatreland followed before she returned home and added a graphic design degree to her skill set.
That blend of mastering the old and learning new techniques led her to wallpaper design. “Wallpaper, for me, is a coming together of the two worlds,” says Emelia. “I freelanced for Opera Australia while studying [graphic design], and I thought of all the amazing things that I could do by combining traditional scenic art and fine art techniques with the fabulous digital world.”
In her new business, Simcox Designer Wallpaper & Upholstery, Emelia has created eight beautiful wallpaper designs, many of which nod to her theatrical past. All her work starts with a hand drawing, often on a one-to-one scale. She then uses techniques learnt as a scenic artist – laying paper on the floor and walking the length of the sheet, embellishing her designs with a long-handled paintbrush as she goes. “I want the wallpaper to feel like someone’s touched it… that it’s created by hand, not by computer,” she explains.
Emelia will soon release fabric collections based on her wallpaper designs, and plans on selling them by the metre through her website. “That was always going to happen, as I love fabric and finally had the time to develop it,” she says. It’s a perfect addition to her range and brings the worlds she conjures off the wall and into other parts of the home. “It’s satisfying to know that what I do works for people in their own environments. It’s wonderful when they ‘get it’ and love it.”