Staying on-trend with interior print
As the market for printed interior décor grows, more sign and digital print companies are starting to see décor as a potential development path. But if a business is to thrive in this sector, it requires a different mindset to the more production-led mentality that often characterises producers of more conventional graphic arts applications. Design is the ultimate service industry. It demands an intuitive grasp of the customer’s intentions and expectations, and sustained effort to stay in touch with changing trends, paying attention to the use of colour, pattern and texture.
Here, Jennifer Castoldi, CEO and Chief Creative Director of Trendease and Printeriors Conference curator considers the latest trends in interior print.
With the advances in digital print enabling sign and print companies to continually expand their capabilities, the interior print industry has really started to grow. While still a niche segment in the context of the overall wide format-printing sector, décor is a growing area for those looking to diversify into new areas in order to help achieve business growth.
From a trends perspective, there are many directions within interior design that play to digital print’s strengths.
For example, digital print facilitates the creation of single, unique (non-repeat) designs– something that was not practically possible when using analogue printing techniques due to the limitations of the print cylinder size. Elimination of this element makes it possible to play with scale and to create printed materials that feature one large seamless image. For example, a client brief may demand a wallcovering that reproduces a photograph of a flower, with no breaks in the continuity of the image. Digital printing makes this possible and as such, there has been a real push in this area.
Digital print also means there are no limitations as far as colour is concerned. It is possible to easily replicate solid and graduated colours, allowing for seamless colour blending. What’s more, digital’s just-in-time advantages mean that companies working digitally can tap into the information outlined in trends reports and be more nimble than the competition working with conventional production methods. For example, Pantone’s colour of 2017 is ‘Greenery’ and it is reasonable to expect that this will be reflected in interior print specifications over the course of the next 12 months. For those companies working with Pantone colours, this is a real advantage that can help to drive their business growth in a very simple way.
Printers also need to develop their understanding of how colour is viewed in an interior context and in different natural and artificial lighting conditions. For example, both globally and locally, colours are perceived differently, normally in correlation to nature. In Nordic countries, sunlight appears differently when compared with Mediterranean countries.
This can have an impact on the way colours appear and thus, how they are used in interiors. Scandinavian design utilises a lot of bold, often stark colours, such as black, white, yellow and blue, whereas Mediterranean design tends to use a warmer colour palette comprising orange, red and brown tones. While this may seem obvious, having an awareness of the way light can interact with colour on a large scale can be particularly useful when offering a rounded service to customers, allowing the sign ad print companies to make suggestions according to the end use and placement of the printed surface.
Of course, most customers would love a bespoke design that responds in the most individual way to their brief. Therein lies one of the key advantages for digital printers – the ability to deliver customised printed materials according to each customer’s personal requirements. In essence, this means that a totally unique design can be created for every customer, something that would be completely cost-prohibitive for most briefs using traditional print or conventional manufacturing techniques. Digital print enables designers to stay absolutely on-trend, since design elements can be produced on-demand in direct response to even the most last-minute design change.
Mimicry is one of the hottest trends in interior print right now. Designers are looking to replicate the appearance of natural and industrial materials, such as bare brick, wood or even concrete, and digital print enables these design aesthetics, textures and effects to be applied cost-effectively to wallcoverings, curtains, floors and canvases, to name but a few. Add to this the ability to introduce printed texture through colour bleeds and it is easy to create a convincing trompe-l’œil, or ‘trick of the eye’effect.
Focusing on application trends, another major advantage of digital print is its versatility to print on virtually any material. Seen through a designer’s eyes, this capability turns every surface into a blank canvas. In practical terms, this translates into increased demand for elements such as printed ceiling materials and window coverings, including slatted and venetian blinds. From a design perspective, this helps to create continuous patterns, achieving a seamless look and feel – something that can be particularly useful in commercial spaces such as offices, shops and restaurants. Commercially, of course, it signals enormous revenue potential for sign and print companies who can offer significantly more to their customers.
Seasonality is another key consideration in commercial interior design. Shops and restaurants for example will have changing promotions and seasonal campaigns, collections or menus, which will determine the desired look of the space. Digital print-on-demand enables stores to frequently update the aesthetics of the space simply by making use of large scale printed materials.
Where cost used to be one of the key drivers in terms of specification, digital print has helped to drive overall costs down, thus digital printers should now work harder to better understand their capabilities in order to design more and play to all the advantages of digital print. Full consideration of the client brief, an appreciation of design trends and directions, and an understanding of materials will enable sign and print companies to capitalise profitably on the growing demand for printed interior décor.
Ultimately, the key to competitive differentiation – even within this niche segment – is for sign and print companies to be consultative and creative, to be confident in their expertise and to fully promote the extensive and exciting potential of print.
Printeriors 2017, which will take place at Messe Hamburg on 8th-12th May, is supported by the half-day Printeriors Conference, which takes place on Thursday 11th Mayand will feature expert speakers from the interior design community.
For further information and to register, visit: printeriors.fespa.com/