Disturbing wallpapers

Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons founded in 1990 Timorous Beasties, a Glasgow-based company known for its subversive textiles and wallpapers.


Their most famous work is the Glasgow Toile, a contemporary urban street scene with a drug addict shooting up, a lad in tracksuit peeing against tree, etc. Produced in the style of early 1800s Toile de Jouy wallpaper.

“I love the idea of an upper middle-class fabric depicting the underbelly of urban chaos,” explains Simmons. “We’re also satirising the incredibly conservative textiles world. You only have to have a print of an evil-looking bird and everyone freaks out. And we want to portray the Glasgow the tourist board ignores.”

Timorous Beasties have been shortlisted for the Designer of the Year award and their Russian Damask is currently shown until 19 June at the Design Museum.

Interview with the artists in The Observer and the Design Museum website.