With so many variations of wallpaper on offer, we’ve broken down the best trends and types to help you make an informed decision.
“Whatever you have in your rooms, think first of the walls: for they are that which makes your house and home.”
We have seen considerable innovations within the wall coverings section of the industry over the last decade. With the interior design market inching ever closer to adopting the seasonal structure used by the fashion industry, semi-permeant furnishings have become vessels for the latest trends and themes. Wallpaper is one of these vessels and its evolution has been significant. Today’s designers consider this decorative element of equal importance to the furnishings and increasingly serving as their base in the design process.
Advances in technology have allowed a myriad of new techniques to emerge. The majority of these modernisations are decorative, although some companies have gifted wallpaper with an additional purpose. These range from high-tech versions that block WiFi and phone signals to Seismic wallpaper, a revolutionary product that supports the building’s masonry in the case of an earthquake.
Concentrating on the decorative side of this evolving industry, we present a breakdown of the main types available and our shortlist of the finest artisans that create them:
TEXTURED & ORGANIC
Whilst textile wallpapers can be created using man-made materials, the finest products are usually organic.
Ranging from Grasscloth to bamboo and silk, these natural fibres provide a depth that cannot be achieved from machine printed techniques. Woven together through a complex process that intertwines cotton threads and the natural fibre which is then applied to a lightweight backing.
The finished product is delicate and best used in low traffic areas of the home. Importantly, no two strands are alike, which gives this desired graduation in colour and texture.
Main Variations: Silk, Bamboo, Grass Cloth, Raw Jute, Cork & Sisal
- Address: Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, Unit 2/9 2nd Floor South Dome, London, SW10 0XE
- Phone: 02073516496
- Website: www.thibautdesign.com
- Address: Phillip Jeffries, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, Ground Floor, South Dome, London, SW10 0XE
- Phone: 0844 800 2522
- Website: www.phillipjeffries.com
The majority of the wallpapers available today are created using some form of printing method. Traditional processes such as screen and surface printing have been somewhat replaced by digital printing – a revolutionary method established in the 1980s.
Digital printing has forever altered printing throughout all industries; its ability to mimic the intimate detailing of colours and textures has allowed designers to experiment with this process and continue to push the boundaries. Comparatively inexpensive to screen and block printing methods, the accessibility of this method has opened up the industry to a new generation of designers who are able to establish themselves via small capsule collections such as Jennifer Shortlow (above left).
- Address: The Surface Print Company Ltd, Broadley Mill, Hill Street, Clayton le Moors, Lancashire, BB5 5EA
- Phone: 01254 397631
- Website: www.surfaceprint.com
Redloh House Fabrics (Jennifer Shortlo)
- Address: The Old Gas Works, 2 Michael Road, London, SW6 2AD
- Phone: 0207 371 7787
- Website: www.redlohhousefabrics.com
Cole & Son
- Address: Ground Floor 10, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, Lots Rd, London SW10 0XE
- Phone: 020 7376 4628
- Website: www.cole-and-son.com
Over the last 20 years the specialist market has expanded to meet the ever growing demand for bespoke creations and one-off designs.
Led by De Gourney, Zuber and Fromental; these artisans use a combination of modern technology and handcrafted techniques, offering an almost unlimited range of finishes and variations. From hand-sewn detailing to hand-painted murals, their craftsmen use only the highest quality materials in their collections.
Usually producing these via silk screen techniques, their wallpapers are formed of multiple layers. With either silk or paper as the paintable surface, muslin is then added as the middle substrate with canvas used for the backing. The paints also differ from their printed counterparts as the colours are achieved using many layers of transparent watercolour (rather than opaque pigments) awarding the finished product a subtle and elegant aesthetic.
- Address: 112 Old Church Street, London, SW3 6EP
- Phone: 020 7352 9988
- Website: www.degournay.com
- Address: 42 Pimlico Road, London, SW1H 8LP
- Phone: 02078248265
- Website: www.zuber.fr
- Address: Fromental, Ground Floor, 2 Kimberley Road, London NW6 7SG
- Phone: 020 3410 2000
- Website: www.fromental.co.uk
Intrinsically linked to the art deco period of the 20s and 30s has seen a resurgence in the last decade, designers have begun to refine these bold and occasionally overpowering geometric styles.
Recently we are seeing designers experimenting with materials in order to produce more subtle variations in quality and light.
The current trend looks towards a simpler look using simple elements of squares, triangles and employing a multi layer, multi colour approach to generate interest.
One of the greatest abilities of wallpaper is its power to convincingly mimic other materials. As a result of the trend for natural materials, many companies have begun to introduce faux stone into their collections.
These are mostly seen as marbles or travertines due to their colour variations and historic provenance as building materials. Without the associated complexities that arise from using these stones (such as weight and cost etc) designers are able to have more creative freedom with their application. This is also true of the colour palettes. Whilst the preference leans towards naturally occurring colour combinations, we are seeing subtle accent colours and materials incorporated in many of the designs. Metallics are popular as they tend to have an interesting reaction to light.
With designers increasingly looking at our heritage for inspiration, it was only a matter of time before the traditional Chinoiserie resurfaced. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries this theme was incredibly popular. Genuine examples of chinoiserie were exceptionally rare, even among the period’s elite. Examples from that era usually depicted a panoramic landscape featuring trees, blossoms and figures in traditional attire. These scenes where bold and colourful – and offered a contrast to the more restrained products that were prevalent at the time.
The current trend continues the landscape theme, using a more restrained palette with accent colours. Willow trees and blossoms continue to be popular and are framed using metallic backgrounds and accent colours. The more expensive versions occasionally include hand-sewn silk detailing and materials such as mother of pearl beading and 24 carat gold.