New CW Stockwell CEO Katy Polsby pages through a catalog of the 114-year-old company’s handscreened prints
A fabulous yet fading wallpaper and fabric company triumphantly returns with a splash of 14 new patterns and a fresh face at the helm.
Trust us, you know the work of Los Angeles-based wallpaper and fabric company CW Stockwell even if you’ve never heard of the 114-year-old brand. The line’s signature print, Martinique, is the bold banana leaf motif that’s bedecked the hallways and coffee shop of The Beverly Hills Hotel since the Pink Palace’s redesign in the 1940s. It’s since been the Instagram-before-Instagram iconic backdrop to countless celebrity photos, galas and more, and is credited—alongside Dorothy Draper’s 1937 Brazilliance palm pattern—with sparking the tropical print craze.
At its height, CW Stockwell was one of the United States’ preeminent wallpaper companies, but as third-generation owner Remy Chatain aged (he’s the grandson of founder Clifton W. Stockwell), he downsized. When he passed away in 2013, Martinique was one of the few patterns in production from line that once boasted hundreds. Here’s where the CW Stockwell story takes a unexpected twist: While Chatain didn’t plan for the company’s future without him, the mantle was nevertheless taken up by longtime family friend and Pasadena neighbor Jill Polsby, the executor of his estate. And after a few years of keeping the lights on (even baking Bundt cakes to keep the East L.A.- based printer happy!), her daughter, Katy Polsby, has stepped in as the new CEO, bent on reinvigorating CW Stockwell.
A bold, new navy colorway of the brand’s famous Martinique banana leaf motif available as wallpaper or fabric— is complemented by swatches from additional prints in the updated line
“Remy was like an uncle to me,” says Katy, who honed her textile and design chops at West Elm and Serena & Lily. Her personal connection, design pedigree and ultimate decision to steer the company into the future feels a bit like fate. “I finally realized I had to get CW Stockwell going again. I was starting to pay attention to all these small-batch textile companies and to everything going on in the world of design—like the return of maximalism—and there was just no time like now to get started,” she says.
Katy dove into the company archives and set about reimagining the line while taking care to retain its spirit. The result is a collection of 14 new wallpaper and fabric patterns (from $188 per 5-yard roll, from $158 per yard), including fresh takes on Martinique—which, not to worry, is still available in its beloved green and pink. “Some of our patterns are exactly as they were originally, and, some, we simplified or changed in color or scale,” she explains.
Notably, Martinique now comes in four fresh colorways, including a neutral version that Chatain had customized for a client in the early ’80s; and Katy has created an all-new, stripped-down spin on the print called Martinique Encore. “It was important to me to not cheapen Martinque; I didn’t want to force this to exist,” she says of the graphic single-screen pattern. Her goal is to not only bring the brand full circle and back to its creme de la creme status with availability at top showrooms across the country, but also to pick up where Chatain left off. “I’m passionate about being this company’s steward,” Katy says. “This is a total dream job.”
Martinique Encore, a distinctive single-screen print, reverses the popular pattern for a fresh, graphic twist
Photography by: MATT SARTAIN/COURTESY OF CW STOCKWELL