Portrait of… Sian Zeng

Imagine the walls of your children’s bedroom becoming the background to their stories, where flying pigs, talking donkeys, and dinosaurs dressed in stripy tops find refuge in beautiful woodland wallpaper scenes.

Xian ‘Sian’ Zeng’s creations for the young at heart are fresh and innovative.

Born in China, Xian Zeng relocated to Hungary with her parents when she was seven years old. She later moved to London where she graduated from Central Saint Martins with a BA in Textile Design.

Now designing under her own brand, Sian Zeng, her work is inspired by fairy tales, imaginative scenes drawn from her own experiences as well as quirky interiors. She loves stories that ‘are funny and a bit weird’ and also has a huge admiration for Vogue photographer Tim Walker, whose entrancing photographs are every bit as surreal as they are evocative.

With her magnetic wallpaper, Sian Zeng wanted to create something that allows users to tell their own tales using removable magnetic characters and buildings and dry-wipe speech bubbles.

There are currently four collections. Dino is the most obviously child-centric collection and creates a magical land of diplodocuses, t-rexes and the occasional flying grand piano. Woodlands offers a whimsical adventure through forests with tiny cottages and little hedgehogs. Seasons feature tropical blooms, winter snowdrifts and autumnal clouds that would be an elegant way to brighten up any bedroom. The Classic Hua Trees mural, either in dusky pink or pale grey, reflects her dual European/Chinese cultural heritage.

The murals are immersive and mesmerizing, and for Xian Zeng, that’s a big part of the appeal: she wants you to ‘feel like you are part of it”. Elegant, subtle and whimsical without being overpowering or kitsch: these wallpapers strike a perfect balance.

She also creates amazingly intricate fabric wall stickers – a metre-high tree for instance – that can easily be stuck to the walls, giving a room a single focal point. She has also developed a collection of art prints, cards and textiles, including bed linen, cushions (even a gigantic stuffed pair of scissors), uniting fantasy and reality in a poetic, unexpected way.

Her creative process is both traditional and contemporary. She loves trying new techniques, mixing Chinese inks and brushes, gouache, even highlighters and sponges, before scanning all the drawings and collating them on Photoshop to create the final composition. The wallpaper is all printed in England using earth friendly inks on paper from sustainable forests.