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Design Guild Mark 2020 Presentation - Hit the North real cork wallpaper

April 22, 2021 3 min read

Design Guild Mark 2020 Presentation - Hit the North real cork wallpaper

🏆 Awaiting the results!

Two of our designs have reached the finals of the prestigious Design Guild Mark, which aims to drive excellence and raise the profile of British design and innovation.

Yesterday I got to (virtually) meet the panel of judges, including Daniel Hopwood and Natasha Marshall, presenting a video about each design and then answering questions.

Our 2020 entry is Hit the North real cork wallpaper, designed in collaboration with musical artist Drew Millward.

This modernist inspired wallcovering features a stylised industrial landscape printed onto real cork. Drew's signature skull motifs bring a sense of rebellion to the design and the sustainably sourced cork creates warmth and character. 

If you'd like to see the video presentation, here it is:


Hello, I’m Charlotte Raffo and I established The Monkey Puzzle Tree in 2017, finding a new way to harness creative ideas to produce one-of-a-kind design. I collaborate with select Yorkshire artists to create unique textiles and wallcoverings, and pay a 20% royalty for their contribution to the design.

As part of our mission to celebrate the best of the North of England’s creativity, eccentricity and innovation, all designs are manufactured within 100 miles of our Leeds studio, supporting traditional industries and maintaining high environmental standards.

Hit the North is part of a collection inspired by the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus. The movement  sought to unify mass production with individual artistic vision. We worked with the values of simplicity, honesty and the use of natural materials, exploring how we could interpret these for today.

Musical artist Drew Millward was given a brief to take inspiration from the industrial architecture of the North of England with a modernist inspired approach to pattern design. 

Drew featured our local architecture alongside his signature elements such as an outsized skull, stylised owls and lightbulbs which gave the design a subversive edge.

The large sun motifs were included as a reference to similar circular elements often used in the Bauhaus era.

The design was named ‘Hit the North’ in a tongue in cheek reference to a song by post punk band The Fall, whilst also acknowledging Drew’s musical work.

Cork was chosen as the perfect foil for this monochrome design, bringing a tactile warmth to this geometric print whilst also referencing the first common use of this material in the home by modernist architects in the 1930s.

Our cork is grown without the use of chemicals in protected Portuguese forests. The cork bark is removed from the trees once every 9 years without causing damage, with the trees living for 300 years. Sustainable cork forests are a habitat which support a rare ecosystem of wild plants, insects and animals.

To make the wall covering, a thin layer of cork is laminated to a heavy FSC certified paper backing. Our original intention was to screen print the design, but after trialling different techniques we found that digital print produced more consistent results on the uneven surface.

Hit the North is easy to install using standard wallpaper paste. A traditional method of overlap and double cutting is used to create invisible joins. 

Cork provides some acoustic benefits to a room, dampening sound as well as bringing a feeling of warmth and character to the space. The wall covering has an A rating for internal emissions, ensuring air quality is not affected by its use.

The oversized scale of the design means it can be used over large areas in both commercial and domestic spaces without the pattern feeling overwhelming or claustrophobic. 

Recent installations include a music room, a games room and the walls and vaulted ceiling of a subterranean powder room.

Hit the North has combined the values of the Bauhaus era with modern technology to create a design with character, authenticity and a quiet sense of rebellion.

About The Monkey Puzzle Tree

The Monkey Puzzle Tree is a design house with a difference, creating artist-designed, British-made fabrics and wallpapers.

Collaborating with a group of handpicked artists in the North of England, we translate their vision into unique designs for the home.

The result? Distinctive fabrics and wallpapers with a quiet sense of rebellion bringing art, story and character to your interior.