Wallcoverings: Going Beyond the Image

How digital wallcoverings create an experience.

The wallcoverings market continues to grow approximately five percent each year, and the digital wallcoverings sector is helping fuel that growth. Wallcoverings have the distinct ability not only to depict a visual, but also to harness imagery to create an experience and evoke an emotional response. This experiential capability makes it a powerful tool for designers of commercial and residential spaces.

The Next Level
Digital printing technologies take wallcoverings to the next level by providing myriad opportunities for personalization. Companies using traditional rotogravure printing may do 80 to 90 percent of their business through their standard product offering, with custom designs making up the remainder. It’s just the opposite for digital wallcovering businesses, which may generate 80 percent of their sales through custom designs concepted from scratch by the company’s in-house designer working in collaboration with the client.

Growth Markets
Hospitality applications continue to expand, with digital wallcoverings now dipping into the budget typically allocated to artwork and other surface materials. Most four- and five-star hotels use digital wallcoverings somewhere within their property. But even midrange hotel brands are projecting higher-end aesthetics with digital wallcoverings on headwalls of guest rooms and on focal points in reception areas, elevator lobbies, and restaurants. Ceilings are even being used as a “fifth wall.”

Retail stores and corporations are embracing the brand capabilities of digital wallcoverings, communicating their look and message through engaging visuals that draw the viewer into the brand experience. Healthcare is more cost-conscious but uses this digital design vehicle to create therapeutic visuals in patient and visitor areas. 

Residential markets may be the next frontier. Interior designers often work with digital wallcoverings to create large-scale graphics and murals for home décor. But what about DIY consumers who want to transfer photography from their smartphones to the wall? Has your print shop considered tapping into this growth opportunity?

Aesthetics in Demand
What other interior design element has the ability to transport you to a sunny beach, panoramic vista, or colorful garden? Healthcare designers leverage digital media to bring the outdoors inside with healing aesthetics suggestive of forests, water, and animal life.

Hotels often use digital imagery to ground the property in its locale and further enhance the destination experience. A property in Arizona might showcase a rustic canyon, while an urban hotel might depict the city skyline or images of tourist attractions.

Retailers and corporations brand their walls, sometimes literally with their logo, but more often subtly with colors, patterns, and textures that convey their brand essence. Wide-format printing allows for uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling artistic expression, and designers can use the full expanse to engage the occupant in the brand experience. 

Partnering Opportunities
Wallcoverings must conform to a host of standards regulating performance, fire safety, and environmental and health impacts. Wallcovering providers bring this expertise to the table. They also recognize what types of wallcoverings are best suited to various environments and can recommend and provide substrates that will perform under specific conditions. There are a multitude of constructions available, and wallcovering companies know which are best suited to each project.

For printers looking to collaborate with wallcovering companies, the Wallcoverings Association website may be a helpful resource. The Product Performance tab offers information about product standards as well as links to leading wallcovering companies.

Matt Bruno is executive director of the Wallcoverings Association, a member-based, not-for-profit organization focused on manufacturing, distribution, and overall sales within the wallcoverings industry. The association provides a vehicle for communication across segments of the wallcoverings industry, while educating consumers, specifiers, and related industries about the use of wallcoverings in the commercial and residential markets.

Read more from Big Picture's November/December 2017 issue featuring the first-ever Interior Décor & Textiles special edition.

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