Stepping off the set of The Row Pre-Spring 2017 lookbook shoot at Pier 59 Studio, Missy Rayder is eager to switch gears and open up about about her latest creative venture, a luxury wallpaper line called Penumbra Obscura. Back in her own clothes with freshly washed hair and her face washed clean of the day’s makeup, she has the same ease and confidence that she demonstrated on set, but her level of excitement is clearly elevated as she begins to discuss her new business.
The New York-based model says it all started with a passion for furniture developed over years of world travel as a model. “I’ve always loved interiors. I’ve traveled so much throughout my career and eventually began collecting,” she explains as she shares iPhone snaps of the West Village home she shares with her husband, fine artist Marko Velk, and their 4-year old son. “I started to appreciate an element of grounding with my furniture, so I’m drawn to heavier pieces like Gothic and Mission. I have a lot of old, Turkish Kilims and am really into Arts and Crafts furniture too.” Velk, known for his mysterious and strange charcoal works, also brings a dark, creative sensibility to their home.
“I got this idea to do something that combines both of our passions in an accessible way and thought about wallpaper, which is really a form of art on a wall,” Rayder continues. “I asked Mark about it, and he loved the idea!” The couple immediately started conceptualizing designs and landed on the name Penumbra Obscura: Penumbra for the shadow cast by a lunar eclipse and Obscura because each pattern has an element of the strange or unexpected.
The combination of Rayder’s bold taste in interiors and Velk’s impeccable artistic renderings creates a truly alluring array of hand-designed wallpaper prints—currently six on offer with two more soon to be released. “We like to talk about our various inspirations and bring them together. It always forms something completely different than we imagined,” says Rayder. “It can come from something we’ve read or seen. The commonality is symbolism.” The first print they came up with was inspired by the tribal African masks Rayder has been collecting for years (below).
For now, the business is run entirely by the two of them, and though it’s very consuming, they approach it as art and try to keep the vision clear. As for working together as a couple—“It’s not so crazy working together because we both have very different jobs. He spends a lot of time working at his studio in Bushwick,” says Rayder. “We aren’t sitting next to each other at a desk. Though, I have to say, there’s a lot of chatting about wallpaper after our kid goes to bed.”