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Maya Romanoff Passes Away

Romanoff impacted the worlds of art and design with his luxe fabrics and wallcoverings


Romanoff impacted the worlds of art and design with his luxe fabrics and wallcoverings.

Maya Romanoff Passes Away

The Maya Romanoff Corporation has announced the loss of Maya Romanoff, founder and chief creative officer of the artistic and innovative surfacing company. He was 72.

Maya, born Richard Romanoff in 1941, started his journey in the world of fine art, working from the simple premise of dyeing fabrics (discovered after seeing a tie-dye t-shirt at Woodstock). He created dyed leathers and silk, pieces which can now be found in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. His large-scale installations of hand-dyed fabric draped the Sun-Times Building in Chicago and were called "the visual star of the Windy Cityscape" by Time Magazine. Irving and Joan Harris also commissioned Romanoff to create the main stage curtain at the Harris Theater of Music and Dance at Millennium Park.

Romanoff eventually transitioned from fine art to hand-dyed fabrics for interiors, and with help from legendary weaver, Jack Lenor Larsen, moved into the world of wallcoverings. Always an artist at heart, Romanoff constantly strove to create original wallcoverings never before seen. He developed a reputation for incorporating tactile materials like glass beads, sea shells, gold leaf, and stitching into surfacing materials.

READ: Our exclusive interview with Joyce Romanoff in the January 2014 issue. 

In 1988, Joyce Lehrer joined the company, and the two married in 1998; the two of them would eventually build Maya Romanoff Corp. into a major player in the luxury surfacing world, propelled by beautiful, tactile wallcoverings and showrooms in Chicago and New York. Romanoff was most proud of his studio and factory in Skokie where artisans handcraft wallcoverings. He developed long-standing relationships with mills in Japan, China, Nepal, the Philippines, Italy, France, and throughout the U.S., always striving to coax something original out of even the most prosaic materials.

“The world is both ugly and beautiful and art makes things more one or more the other,” Romanoff told Elle Decor Hong Kong in 1995. “I'm on the side of the angels.”

At the age of 49, Romanoff was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but never stopped pushing his company to create and grow. Joyce Romanoff became president of Maya Romanoff Corp. in 2002, and her children and his niece assumed leadership roles in the company. Romanoff passed away on January 15th.