As design trends herald an end to minimalism, styles are no longer defined by purity and restraint and wall coverings have come back with a bang. Designers have begun to turn heads with striking designs in a myriad of textures, finishes, patterns, colours and materials proving that the ‘less is more aesthetic’ has been firmly consigned to the past.

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By  Monika Grzesik Published  December 4, 2006

|~|wall-body-1.gif|~||~|As design trends herald an end to minimalism, styles are no longer defined by purity and restraint and wall coverings have come back with a bang. Designers have begun to turn heads with striking designs in a myriad of textures, finishes, patterns, colours and materials proving that the ‘less is more aesthetic’ has been firmly consigned to the past.

According to Oliver Kay, managing director, Partridge and Green: “As a reaction to the minimalist nineties, décor and decorative details are making their way back into interior design. People are bored with the minimalist approach and want to express their individuality through decorative choices. There is a market for exciting, new designs. Bold feature walls with daring, contemporary wall coverings are creating an individual flavour and personality.”

Wallpaper is undergoing a style renaissance and the interior design world has embraced its revival with designs expanding in all directions. Fussy florals and busy Victorian prints are a distant memory and classic patterns of previous decades are being updated for today’s trends.

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One trend, which is currently making a huge impact, is for contemporised Chinoiserie designs. The European artistic style, which reflects a Chinese influence is characterised through the use of fanciful imagery, bold florally themed prints, clean lines and delicate patterning. Cihan Anani from De Gournay, who offer a range of striking hand painted silk Chinoiseries explains this trend as, “the longing to have outdoor beauty indoors.” Partridge and Green has also updated the style by adding a touch of metallic to its botanically inspired range.

London interiors house, Fromental, has created a range of stunning range of hand-embroidered Chinoiserie, which offers a modern take on 18th Century aesthetics. The Chinoiserie designs are hand painted on silk and organza prior to being entirely hand embroidered using delicate silk thread with each bespoke panel requiring over 600 hours of work. The oversized blooms, birds and butterflies, in vibrant colours revisit the exquisite workmanship of the finery of 18th Century court life and update it for today’s tastes. The spectacular designs bring a jewel-like feeling to an interior setting. Fromental is currently working on creating bespoke Chinoiserie designs for Gordon Ramsey’s new restaurant in New York.
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Nature Inspired

Nature plays a big part in today’s wall covering styles. “Designs are dictated by natural elements,” says Veenu Kanwar, design coordinator, Warps and Wefts. “This translates into decorating styles that echo the soothing elements of nature and draw inspiration directly from the environment. We’re seeing more use of leaf patterns, flowers and fruit in current designs that incorporate an earthy, natural feeling in the décor.”
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Embellishments are in

For something more dramatic, the dazzling designer ranges from creatives such as UK-based Tracy Kendall have moved to the forefront with some of the most striking designs around. Kendall produces bespoke wallpaper with subtle elegance and a contemporary twist. The designer’s unique three-dimensional designs are particularly impressive. Kendall uses a stitch and cut technique, which introduces texture and shape to a wall. Wall coverings are given an entirely new lease of life with her use of sequins, buttons, feathers and other glittery paraphernalia.

Kendall is also known for her custom-produced print collection where magnified feathers, plants and florals have been pared down to produce simple modern designs in a variety of colours. Other designs include the kitchen range of giant knives, forks and plates, and 3D bedroom papers. Designed to be pasted in single strips or blocks rather than applied to whole walls or rooms, many of her designs create a magic eye effect — ‘trompe l’oeil’ — such as a stack of magazines, a book shelf or even a window frame.

Kendall says: “Wallpaper can be hung in either just one area, or on one wall allowing people to show their acceptance of pattern or texture in another form rather than just on soft furnishings. It can add such depth and warmth to a room, even in small amounts and this is very appealing.”
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Material Wall

Highly tactile coverings are making a big impact on the market and many cutting-edge designs are being created in anything but paper. Designers are covering walls in a range of innovative materials ranging from laminates to gold leaf for a truly unusual effect.

Swiss furnishing fabric company Creation Baumann from Warps and Wefts now offers its fabrics paper backed to make highly touchable wall coverings that can be coordinated with soft furnishings and window dressings.
Anani from De Gournay says: “Without a doubt, silk is making an impact in wallcoverings. Everyone would love to have their walls covered in 100% pure silk especially if it has an extra layer of pure silver or gold leaf. Metallic colours such as gold, silver, pearl and jewel colours in general add the feeling of luxury to your indoors.”

Brand new to the Middle Eastern market is leather for walls. Italian company Studio Art, located in the province of Vicenza known for its excellence in tanning hides, has translated the artistic potential of this unique tradition into innovative wall coverings. Available in the region through Black Sea International, ‘Mosaico’ is a rich collection of leather tesserae and tiles, created using the full grain of selected hides and finished using artisan techniques. The tiles come in a wide range of designs and colours.

||**|||~|wall-body-6.gif|~||~|According to Sanjay Yadav, managing director, Black Sea International: “Clients are now seeking ‘designed’ rather than just ‘decorated’ spaces and the market is always looking to offer innovative products to those who require more personalised design. Due to its natural property, leather absorbs noise and can be a good acoustic manager for a large, populace place such as reception halls, bars and night clubs, plus it also absorbs undesirable odours like smoke. Leather ages well acquiring a deep and unique colour over a period of time and hues and tones that increases the tiles beauty and uniqueness.”

US-based manufacturer of advanced wallcoverings, Maya Romanoff, is blurring the line between fine art and commercial design. Maya Romanoff combines ancient artistic techniques with up-to-date industrial production and a keen approach for environmental concerns. The company pioneers new surface materials for the design industry with a range of wall coverings, which includes genuine metal leaf, decorative inlaid wood and ‘Bedazzled’ which took the design world by storm — a flexible beaded wall crafted from glass beads.

According to president Joyce Romanoff: “We’ve definitely seen an increase in the demand for natural materials. Many of our products are made from natural materials, which make them very desirable. ‘Mother of Pearl’, made from genuine capiz shells is quickly becoming one of our best selling lines. And ‘Ajiro’ wood veneer wall covering, made from laser thin Pawlonia wood continues to be in great demand. Our newest addition to that line is Hues, which features more primary colours than traditionally included in the line. One of our original products, ‘Weathered Walls’, made with rich dyes and special paper that creates deep striations of colour that resemble fine lacquered leather, remains a top selling line after more than 20 years.”

Maya Romanoff has an increasing range of unusual wall covering materials, many of which satisfies the growing demand for natural and eco friendly materials. ‘Abacadazzle’ for example is created from the Abaca plant and woven with metallic threads.

UK-based design pioneer Steve Charles is also experimenting with a range of materials from metallic tiles to mother of pearl and shell to create a range of highly striking wall coverings. Steve Charles has also revived the traditional technique of Gesso wall panelling — stencilled, printed and textured plaster applied to stretched canvas and contemporised for the modern day.

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High Tech Styles

While handpainted and bespoke wallpapers are a top end, niche product, high tech advances in printing are producing highly innovative designs, which are a great solution for lower budgets. The Urbanism collection from Prime Wallcoverings uses Lenticular printing (or laser printing) to create a bold range in vivid colours and styles and is also ‘anti-humidity’.

According to James Prathap, manager of NGC: “The use of digital technology means that a new range of complex, detailed imagery is possible offering alternatives to more commonly used patterns and prints. Examples include photography, 3D images and geometric designs.” NGC uses digital printing to produce wall coverings with panoramic designs transmitting you into an almost realistic landscape setting. Other high tech innovations from NGC includes a magnetic wall paper and a ‘moving wallpaper’ onto which constantly changing images are projected.

l Routine maintenance is essential to prolonging the life of wall coverings.

l Make sure that installation is carried out by an expert to ensure a perfect, flawless finish.

l Prior to installation it is important to have all substrates such as walls and gypsum wallboards primed properly to ensure a clean finish.

l Wall coverings should be cleaned regularly and kept looking fresh. Washable wall coverings should be cleaned by starting at the bottom and working towards the top, gently sponging with a mild detergent in warm water. Do not use abrasive cleaners. Rinse thoroughly with clean warm water using a sponge. Wall covering that are not washable can be cleaned with a dry sponge or eraser.

l A soft, damp cloth dampened with a mild washing up liquid solution will wipe away finger and scuff marks.

l Ensure where possible that wall coverings are sealed with a durable and waterproof matt varnish or sealant such as Polyvine in order to prolong their lifespan.

l On the issue of colour fading, oil based designs will fade more than water based paints. However, our experts have advised that particularly for hand painted or hand embroidered wallpapers, a certain amount of fading will add to the aesthetic effect of the paper giving it an aged, antique look than many clients will often pay extra for!

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