Trompe l’oeil makes the unremarkable, remarkable.

Trompe l’oeil means “trick the eye” in French.

We have always admired the artistry of trompe l’oeil artists. Yet we never considered we could actually try our own hand at it. That is, until we considered the idea of adding mouldings to a room that lacked them. The idea came to us from a room at the 2020 Kips Bay Show house room that used trompe l’oeil wallpaper to add the architectural details in a master bedroom.

With a little more searching we came across painter Christian Bérard. An artist popular in the’20s and ’30s, and would paint theater sets, murals, decorative scenes are more. Bérard, often endearingly called “Bébé” for his child-like appearance and disposition, produced fashion and book illustrations, designs for theater sets and costumes, murals, decorative screens, textiles, scarves, and interior designs.

Trompe L'oeil Master Christian Berard

Some of his most famous work can be found at L’institut Guerlain in Paris. For the Institut Guerlain, Bérard painted designs for faux panels and architectural details for the walls. He used white, black, mauve and grey to suggest shadows and light in three dimensions.

Trompe L'oeil
Trompe L'oeil
Trompe L'oeil

This simple, yet beautiful art trick has inspired many a design house, and designer. Fromental (a top British wallpaper house) paid homage to the artist himself with their “Bérard” wallcovering. Many other designers have created a whimsical space by drawing a panel or two on their walls to create interest. Like the new Lingua Franca store in NYC and Kate Spade has been known to pay respect to the master.

Just DIY it

This is definitely one of those ideas you could AND should do yourself. We plan on doing something similar in an upcoming project of ours. Shhhh…details soon! But if you have an artistic tendency and a steady hand, whimsical trompe-l’oeil panels might even be a reasonable DIY project, especially if you like the style of Bérard’s loose brushstrokes. Anyone want to undertake this project and send in some pix?

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