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Whimsical magnetic wallpaper turns walls into toys

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Designer Sian Zeng paints intricate scenes that can be used as interactive surfaces

A woman drawing on paper. Etsy

Who needs a refrigerator when you’ve got an entire wall?

London-based designer Sian Zeng is the mind behind a line of magnetic wallpaper that transforms walls into interactive play spaces. Recently awarded the grand prize at the Etsy Design Award global competition, she crafts intricately painted scenes filled with dinosaurs, “flycopters,” and lush trees and botanicals that serve as the backdrop for a family of magnets.

Zeng started making her whimsical papers in 2009 using magnetic paint, but today she attaches her hand-painted papers to a hidden magnetic liner. The wallpaper is applied in four stages—a magnetic liner is followed by another liner that’s followed by the patterned wallpaper and then varnish.

Animated image of magnets moving around on wallpaper. Etsy

The effort is worth it. Zeng’s designs are densely illustrated with visible brushstroke details. It’s easy to get lost in the scenes, which Zeng says is the entire point. “Our paper encourages people to tell their own stories,” she explains. “I really want them to interact with the wall and see what they come up with.”