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(May 2012) posted on Thu May 03, 2012

Digitally produced wallcoverings are transforming empty spaces into a venue for marketing, rebranding, and self-expression.

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By Mike Antoniak

Looking for new ways to profit from your wide-format digital print capabilities?

Some opportunities can be so obvious, they’re easily overlooked. Such is the case with digitally produced wallcoverings, a category only now fully coming into its own as digital print technologies have made short runs more economically feasible.

Just how much “buzz” are wallcoverings receiving right now? On the commercial and institutional side of the wallcoverings market, hotels are just one example. “We’re seeing boutique hotels ‘up the ante’ when it comes to using eye-catching wallcoverings both in public areas – lobbies, etc. – and guest rooms to help create a unique guest experience,” says Matthew Hall, editor of Boutique Design magazine, which covers trends in hospitality interiors.

The residential side of the market has also seen a marked upswing. Producers of residential wallcoverings have seen global sales increase an average of approximately 30 percent in the last five to seven years, reports the Wallcoverings Association (WA,; see sidebar). “Our members are seeing significant increases in sales. Factors that may be contributing to this increase in popularity, sales, and consumer appeal include the tremendous innovation in manufacturing and machinery, making wallcovering far more cost effective than ever,” the association reports.

To get the manufacturers’ point of view on the surging wallcoverings market, we talked to several manufacturers and suppliers of media for wallcoverings, including: Converd, Dreamscape, FlexCon, Lintec, Neschen, and Ultraflex Systems.

What you’ll find is that when it comes to digitally produced wall graphics, opportunities are waiting for those shops willing to pursue them.

Re-branding and re-tooling interiors
“Any product that offers a creative and unique place to advertise is especially popular right now,” says Jaime Giannantonio Sherman, marketing manager for Ultraflex Systems. “Printable wallpaper provides an avenue for advertisers to get their message on a variety of surfaces in many locations, and their message is always eye-level with their audience.”

And while that’s been an option since digital printing and adhesive-backed vinyl first met, the bright outlook for wallcoverings owes as much to advances in digital printers and media, as changing priorities in print buyers’ marketing plans.