Brooklyn-based illustrator, artist, and wallpaper designer Dan Funderburgh is the designer behind the Cairo City Wallet. You might have seen images of the oft-photographed wallpaper that he created for the Wythe Hotel in New York City. Known for his designs that play off of of historical ornamentation, his work seamlessly bring together the decorative and the everyday. Likewise, the Cairo City Wallet features intricate designs that speak of the city’s rich history and culture, yet rendered in colors that are refreshingly modern. In today’s interview, we speak to Dan about his experiences in Cairo, aesthetic and his travel style.
You can see all our City Wallets here. Until June 1st, 10% of proceeds from wallet sales will go to 826LA, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center that provides under-resourced students aged 6-18 with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.
1. What was your inspiration for the Cairo City Wallet?
Watching the footage of protestors in Tahrir Square was really, really inspiring. The city itself has amazing colors and art history, so it seemed like a great time and place to try and capture.
2. Have you been to Cairo? If so, could you describe some memorable experiences you had there?
The good people of The Articulate Baboon Gallery brought me out in preparation for an exhibit in 2010 shortly before the revolution. Unfortunately due to a combination of a slightly dicey political climate and my own procrastination I have yet to make it back for the show. Work is still in progress though. I’m very excited to return and install the show.
3. Can you describe your aesthetic and share how you got started as an illustrator?
I would describe my aesthetic as fancy and derivative. I got started making illustrations and textile patterns for baggy hip-hop clothing in the early 2000′s. It was very educational but I think wallpaper is a better fit for me.
4. What is your travel style like, and how has traveling influenced your work?
I walk a lot. I like the pace plus I don’t have a driver’s license. There is beautiful crazy patterns and textures and signage everywhere. It drives me a little bit mad that I cannot be constantly exploring some new country, but of course plenty of that crazy stuff is home as well if you remember to look for it. Often times it’s something completely unexpected that has the most influence. The hieroglyphics and museums were remarkable, but ultimately not that different than images I have in books. I was more struck by the colors people choose to paint the residential towers in the poorer areas and the anarchy of Cairo traffic.
5. Your work is rooted in the decorative arts and everyday items…what details do you find yourself drawn towards when you look at such objects?
I’m attracted to the honesty of tools that are purely utilitarian and the singularity of purpose of decoration that is purely superficial. I guess.
6. Which destination(s) is high on your travel list this year and why?
Everywhere ! I know it’s ambitious. Iceland and Alhambra are definitely on the short list. Also Patagonia.
7. What are some current themes that you are working with?
Entropy. Heredity. World History. Permanence. Decoration as Art.