Dive into the world of maximalist interiors brand Divine Savages

The designs of Divine Savages were born out of the founders’ love for all things kitsch and eccentric. We catch up with the dynamic duo to discover how the brand started and what we can expect in the future…

The founders of Divine Savages – former fashionista Tom Kennedy and Jamie Watkins, who worked in the film industry – are known for their bold and daring wallpaper designs that are always flamboyant, fun and more than a little mischievous.   

The couple had bought a Victorian terrace in south-east London when they got the eureka moment to set up their design company. They were planning to decorate their new home using traditional prints but were dismayed to discover they were all a little… well, dull. 

“We wanted to respect the design styles of the Arts and Crafts movement, but traditional prints were not quirky enough,” explains Tom. “We’re avid collectors of curiosities and all things kitsch and wanted to inject some of this passion and personality into our home décor.” 

Green bathroom with bold  Divine Savages wallpaper and green metro tiles. Victorian vanity unit with matte black brassware.
Divine Plumage wallpaper in Emerald Green, £150 per roll.

How did Divine Savages start?

Tom decided to draft some wallpaper designs of his own and came up with a pattern inspired by The Great Gatsby, Deco Martini, which incorporated their love of a good cocktail. It was their first wallpaper put into production and became a best seller. “Divine Savages was born,” he says.

With a passion for quirky interiors and daring design, the pair wanted to offer customers bolder and more exciting choices. “We want to celebrate both the divine and the savage in us all,” says Tom. “We’ve spent the past few years fine-tuning the look of Divine Savages, which is flamboyant, eccentric, quirky and slightly edgy.”

Green kitchen with gold accents and bold palm tree wallpaper.
Crane Fonda wallpaper in Palm Green, £150 per roll.

Tom, who likes to work alone, creates most of the designs digitally. Each design starts with a key hero element or character and then evolves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their design heroes are Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, two of Britain’s most iconic fashion designers. “We love their blend of subversion and tradition as well as their penchant for breaking the rules!” says Tom with a hoot of laughter. 

The couple, who met by chance in a bar in 2006, hit it off straight away and got married eight years later. Describing themselves as eccentric to the core, they love the weird and wonderful. “The quirkier the better,” says Tom. “We like to push boundaries and design aesthetics and encourage our customers to step outside of their interiors comfort zone.”

Pink bedroom with large chandelier. Pink rose Divine Savages wallpaper is all on walls and ceiling.
Bloomin’ Marvellous wallpaper in Duchess Pink, £150 per roll.

Top tips on choosing wallpaper

Tom says there are a variety of points to consider when choosing your wallpaper. “If you’re going for a bold print, start with the wallpaper then pull out one key colour to match as closely as you can for any paintwork and accessories. The closer the match, the stronger the impact.  

“So, use colours from a print to pick out the original features in a room such as fireplaces and cornicing to keep it tonally pleasing,” he adds. Also think about the end use of the room you’re creating. “Is it a calming, quiet space or a hub for entertaining?” asks Tom. “Are you looking for a subtle backdrop or a conversation starter? Once you’ve decided on the room’s function it should help make your choice much clearer.”

Oh yes. And don’t forget to be adventurous. “Don’t be shy,” Tom advises. “Divine Savages wallpaper has the magical ability to transform any space, with a superpower far greater than that of humble paint. Bringing bold colour and pattern into a potentially boring space that serves to be practical and functional can work wonders.”

Blue palm tree wallpaper in a blue bathroom with vanity and freestanding bath. Checkerboard tiles with blue metro tiles on wall
Crane Fonda wallpaper in Ecru Blue, per roll £150.

Working on Pikes, Ibiza

Unsurprisingly, the fun-loving duo like nothing better than a project that’s a little out of the ordinary and were delighted when asked to work with Pikes, a hotel in Ibiza – huge in the 1960s and 1970s – that’s famous as the location for Wham!’s Club Tropicana video as well as numerous other rock star guests, who enjoy its fun vibe.

“The Divine Savages’ team love commercial projects where we can go a bit wild,” says Tom. “We pulled off an amazing renovation, which included countless combinations of our wallpapers, luxurious lampshades and quirky cushions. We were so excited to see this come to fruition.” 

And, according to Tom, we should expect to see a heavy dose of the 1970s heading our way this year. “Wallpapers from this decade were often geometric, or showed an element of repeated print, something we indulge in when creating our designs,” he says. “To get a 1970s-inspired look with a contemporary twist in the home, take wallpaper across the ceiling – another trend that will be big this year – using wallpaper in unexpected places is guaranteed to create maximum impact, though it’s not one for wallflowers!”

colourful bedroom design patterned cushions on the bed
Faunacation wallpaper in Majestic, £150 per roll.

What’s next?

Next up for Divine Savages, who recently worked with slow fashion brand Byroses on a luxe loungewear range, is a new wallpaper range called Rewilding. “It draws inspiration from Mother Nature, the fiercest queen of all,” says Tom. “It celebrates our delicate ecosystems, natural beauty and the creatures that call planet Earth home.”

And, inspired by their passion for ceramics – particularly anything vintage – the duo has something really exciting planned for later in the year. “Vintage pieces not only add a sense of story to your home, but they also add the all-important personality factor!” exclaims Tom. So, watch this space readers!

Black kitchen with gold accents, Art Deco Divine Savages wallpaper and large range cooker
Deco Martini wallpaper in Smoky Gold, £150 per roll.

Explore more ideas on how to use wallpaper in your home from kitchens and bathrooms to bedrooms

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