In the mid-19th century, Sir John Herschel invented the cyanotype, an intricate photographic process that uses iron compounds to create prints with a lustrous blue hue. His close friend Anna Atkins, an amateur botanist who took particular interest in scientific illustration and taxonomy, decided to use the new technique to document algae from her extensive seaweed collection, resulting in ethereal, highly detailed illustrations rendered in wispy shades of white set against a radiant cyan background, also known as Prussian Blue. She then published her works in Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, widely considered to be the first book illustrated with photographic images. Cyanotypes became a simple, low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, commonly referred to as blueprints.
Though the method’s popularity waned as photographic technology evolved, numerous contemporary artists such as Christian Marclay, Kate Cordsen, and John Dugdale employ cyanotype processes in their work. Enter the Brooklyn designer Amanda Dandeneau, co-founder of boutique studio Wallpaper Projects, an emerging firm that’s renowned for transformative wall coverings defined by material and chemical experimentation. (You may recall the studio’s lifelike Storm Cloud pattern—a collaboration with Various Projects and Print All Over Me—that debuted at Collective Design in 2016). She noticed fellow artist Devon Caranicas experimenting with the medium and was galvanized to turn the radiant blue prints into Cyanotype, the studio’s latest collection and a vibrant ode to the photographic process.