For those who thought wallpaper might have lost its lustre after its long reign as a design staple over the last several years, the product is just getting started.
As 2014 approaches, wallpaper is responding to one of designs most prevalent trends: the demand for personalised and bespoke interiors.
Today, digital technology has offered an abundance of design options for wallpaper and its affordability and the ease with which it can be applied and removed is appealing to consumers who aren’t seeking long-term décor.
Wallpaper dates back to the thirteenth century, rising in popularity just before the Renaissance period. The product initially featured religious images and was created as an alternative to expensive tapestries. The first wallpaper products were actually hand painted and stencilled.
What started initially as a residential trend has quickly translated to the commercial market as walls continue to be a primary design consideration.
For businesses, wallpaper offers a foundation for branding, displaying cultural values or company colours while the residential market enjoy the simplicity of wallpaper’s application to change the look of an entire room.
It’s also a great aesthetic alternative to hanging art or mirrors and removes the maintenance of managing a vertical indoor garden.
Jenny Menz, director of The Wallpaper Company Australia believes the residential market will keep wallpaper at the forefront of design in 2014 and expects continued growth in the sector.
“It’s a really affordable solution,” she said. “Our customers are wallpapering just one wall as a feature, they’re doing it themselves and they know then can remove it or update it really easily...The decision only needs to last a few years, not a lifetime. The more DIY the wallpaper can be, the more receptive we are to it.”
Menz believes the flexible nature of wallpaper encourages customers to attempt bold designs and colour choice. With wallpaper, it’s all about the product being “self installable” and removable explains Menz.
Some wallpapers on the market can be made from woven fabric backings including cloth while paper backing usually features a vinyl material.
In terms of forecasted wallpaper trends, Menz revealed that photographic murals are most popular in commercial settings, living spaces and adult bedrooms. She also identified geometrical Chevron, Herringbone and Nautical as prevalent pattern choices for nurseries.
“Parents want a wallpaper design that will grow with their child and last five plus years,” she explains. “Bold patterns in classic colours can be easily restyled.”
Menz added that “texture” is a dominant trend, with wallpaper styles created that mimic brick walls, wood paneling and concrete.
The Wallpaper Company was recently commissioned by the Oaks on William hotel to create the hotel's room interiors. The company designed and produced a wall mural of Melbourne’s skyline for each of the 220 hotel rooms, creating a “great and dramatic,” effect according to Menz.
When it comes to technological advances in wallpaper, The Wallpaper Company has printed QR codes on a popular world map wall mural. Menz said the design is popular for families and offers educational benefits; when scanned with a smartphone application, the wallpaper will offer information on each destination.
Other popular technology on the market includes LED wallpaper, which design company Phillips launched at New York Design week.
Some wallpaper is embedded with LED lights and Swarovski crystals, with design firm Mestyle’s using the crystals to “accentuate the impact of the LEDs as the two work in harmony to create a dramatic impact” for walls.
Wallpaper can also be functional and even life-saving. Last year, scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology revealed research on wallpaper that featured a glass fibre material that could prevent a masonry wall from collapsing during an earthquake.
These technological advances and trends have enabled wallpaper to become more than just an aesthetic element, turning it into one that conveys personal character and can showcase the lifestyle of a space's occupants.