When asked, “What do you always carry in your purse?,” Caryn Outwater names “lipstick;” and Ariane Stein, “Chap Stick.” Telling responses for these lifelong friends whose contradictions complement their Phoenix-based wallcovering company, Avignon. “Where I lack, she picks up, and we don’t overlap strengths,” says Stein, the creative yin to Outwater’s marketing yang. Somewhere between their 35-year friendship, spanning moves, marriages and more, the duo started with a faux-painting business, but soon shifted gears. “With wallcoverings, we felt that we could get more depth and quality,” Outwater says. Today, with clients including the Miraval Resort & Spa, Tiffany & Co. and the Four Seasons, Avignon’s eco-friendly, handcrafted coverings—made with Class A fire-rated recycled paper and water-based paints—incorporate tissue paper, lettering, mulberry inlays, and Anaglypta to achieve the desired textural effect, and be it birch bark or an iridescent shell, nature always inspires. “We love the freedom to create and develop product that is one-of-a-kind,” Outwater says. “Seeing the space transformation and our clients reaction reaffirms to me that we are making a difference.”
LX: Work approach:
AS: First I experiment with unique textures, then color and finally consistency in the hand-painted product.
LX: What’s inspiring you now?
CO: My surroundings…nature in particular. I live in San Diego now and get many ideas at the beach and in the water. One of my favorite spots is Balboa Park. It has incredible architecture, museums and views.
LX: Trend you’re excited by:
AS: Upcycling; it not only reuses but elevates the design.
LX: Design period you find most engaging:
CO: All really. It’s how it’s put together that makes the difference.
LX: Personal style:
AS: I’m an optimistic precisionist. I believe all things can be close to perfect.
LX: Treasured keepsakes:
CO: A ceramic sculpture by Manuel Felguérez and a painting by Ariane’s mom.