Up Close with the Creators of BLIK Wall Decals + Surface Graphics

One evening, architect Scott Flora and food editor Jerinne Neils found themselves staring at a large, white wall. It was a simple enough question: Paint or wallpaper? But, after much debate, they still couldn’t decide. As they grappled with their decorating dilemma, they soon realized that what they really wanted was something else, another option somewhere between the two. The duo realized that what they really wanted for that empty wall was something that felt modern but that they could easily (and affordably) change to reflect evolving tastes. But that “something” simply didn’t exist. Not yet.

The Conversation that Sparked Design Inspiration + Creativity

It was that epiphany that gave way to a new business venture Flora and Neils launched in 2002, which they called “Blik.” Today, Blik is a booming business as the leading designer and maker of removable, self-adhesive surface graphics. While the company’s original offerings in 2002 were primarily geometric shapes (circles, squares, ellipses and a hexagonal lug nut), today, customers have a litany of patterns and images to choose from, as the company has made a habit of partnering with an ever-growing list of artists including such brands as Nintendo, Sanrio, Charles & Ray Eames, and Keith Haring Estate, in addition to a healthy selection of up-and-coming designers. Their designs can be seen not only in private homes, but also in companies including Google, MTVN, Mattel—even on the set of NBC’s The Apprentice.

BLIK Surface SkinAnd it hasn’t just been the brand’s aesthetics that have changed over the past decade. What started as a company creating for walls now offers decals for just about any flat surface—even your car. They’ve created decals that are removable chalk or whiteboards, and they have also created a line of “green” wall coverings that are PVC-free, VOC-free, phthalate-free and non-vinyl.

Blik Chalk Wall decals

In essence, Blik is always on the lookout for how to do more with this simple idea of transforming your world, which is part of why its accolades include earning an I.D. Magazine Product Design Distinction Award, and why it was named one of Entrepreneur’s Top 10 Brilliant Companies in 2010.

Needless to say, creativity is the lifeblood that keeps Blik going and constantly innovating.

BLIK Hello Kitty

Seeking Design Inspiration through Collaboration

“Our team is made up of a lot of original members, and we stay creative by keeping up with what’s going on around us,” say co-founders, Flora and Neils. “We’re interested in interior design, pop culture, art, food, what’s going on the world and in our own neighborhoods, etc. All of us are always bringing ideas and concepts back and sharing. And as a design company, we work with outside creatives and freelancers as well who bring their own ideas and energy to the mix, and that is always refreshing.”

That affinity for collaboration is one of the things that sets Blik apart; if you look at their catalog, you’ll see that a huge portion of it comes from teaming up with artists from all walks of life, whether it’s video-game design, architecture, fine art and even with student designers.

BLIK, by Keith Haring

“We feel that if a designer or brand is doing something innovative, no matter what their discipline or how long they’ve been doing it, we’re interested,” the co-founders say. “We like graphics that appeal to different audiences, and our range of appreciation is varied. But we have the flexibility to do that because we manufacture and retail the designs ourselves, so we can sign up-and-coming artists or artists whose work is outside our core demographic and sell them right next to the big(ger) names.”

And when it comes to sourcing art, the decision process is surprisingly easy: “Does it inspire us? Would we put it on our wall is always the first criteria,” the co-founders say. That is why you’ll find decals all over Blik headquarters. “We use our wall surfaces for testing purposes so the decor is always changing based on upcoming product launches.” They’ve even been known to take the products home to live with them, that way as well.

Blik Custom

“We try to put ourselves into the mind of a consumer and who our target audience is, but we also work a lot simply on feel and things we just naturally are inclined toward.”

After all, it was that same ingenuity and trust-your-gut proclivity that got Blik started in the first place. Now ten years later, they’re more creative than ever—with nary a blank wall in sight.

Blik Surface Skin

Want more design inspiration to produce your best work?  

d30 Check out D30: Exercises for Designers from My Design Shop

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