Posted by Diane Capuano
The wallpaper market is trending toward more fresh, open, airy, simplistic and “happy” design. This, according to Malcolm Cooper, creative director of Blue Mountain Wallcoverings, one of several trend experts contacted by Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine for its annual Fall Fashion Preview of Wallcoverings.
From traditional to contemporary, from simple to glitzy, from subdued to brightly colored, the wallpaper selections entering the marketplace will allow wallpaper consumers to have whatever look they want for their homes.
“I feel we are really seeing a strong change in color and design direction,” Cooper said. “Design has certainly broadened in scale. No longer just the large, over-scale feature wall, everything from oversize to the micro-mini is ‘au current.’ ”
As part of the trend toward fresh, open and airy designs, Cooper observed that there will also be more white and clear pastel grounds. “The naïve, optimistic and natural, if not rather primary, color palette of the late ’60s and early ’70s has risen to the foreground of 2012 direction. This also encompasses a re-interpretation of ethnic design. Simple and straightforward, the design and color appears rather nostalgic. Look for lots of pure mid- to truly saturated color—greens, yellows, corals, reds, blues and purples—all very pretty in combination. Expect lots of pattern and combinations of pattern.”
The diversity of wallpaper allows consumers to express their own style. “The key is to be creative, expressive and personal,” said Paula Taylor, Trend & Color Specialist for Graham & Brown. “With the latest ‘paste-the-wall’ nonwoven papers, it is quick clean and easy to experiment and have fun. As people are beginning to get more comfortable with pattern, we are seeing a return to wallpaper being used on every wall—perhaps a bold feature design on one wall but teamed with a matching coordinate or textured plain.”
Taylor stressed the importance of overall coordination to give a home a cohesive, sophisticated feel. “By carefully considering a good base of neutrals, we can link rooms and areas together with colorful pattern. Bold stripes and mini-prints will marry color schemes together. Fabrics, wallcoverings and furnishings don’t have to match exactly but should have key colors in common. Try using stripes horizontally to add width to rooms or simply just to flow from rooms that are connected.”
Suzanne Ashley, director of product development for Seabrook Wallcoverings, identified four basic trends for wallpaper this year:
• Revamped Traditional: Classic and comforting designs that are often updated with non-traditional colors.
• Recycled/Reclaimed: Timeless designs with “Antique Road Show” appeal; beautiful patterns from the past that feature time-worn imperfections characterized by texture. Weathered woods are part of this look.
• Simplicity: Contemporary designs with clean colors and lines for an open, uncluttered look—not limited to geometrics, but also includes any motif with contemporized style, such as leaves.
• Glitz & Glam: A range of design themes embellished with glitter, glass beads, jewels and iridescent or metallic inks; this includes luxurious grasscloth with strands of metallic threads or a polished metallic background.
“Within these trends are numerous subject themes that can be seen in all of the trend categories with each stylized to address the specific trend,” Ashley said. “Some of the important subject themes are damask, paisley, scroll, floral, animal skins, trellis, branches, leaves and animal motifs (such as birds, butterflies, dogs, deer, rabbits, etc.).”
Paula Berberian, creative services manager, Brewster Wallcoverings, identified some of the same designs as Ashley as retaining or gaining in popularity, citing damasks, ironwork, Ikats, florals, Suzanis and all things modern. “We are looking at toiles to make a comeback in varying scales with intriguing effects,” she said.
Others agreed that there is a new trend toward the addition of more special effects—what Cooper characterized as raised, sparkle, suede, shine, translucence and “the new metals.” However, it’s all new and fresh. “This look is not to be confused with the over-patterned and over-colored look of the ’80s,” Cooper said.
Berberian echoed Cooper’s comment that more special effects are making their way to wallcovering. She cited the addition of embellishments such as beads, specialized printing effects such as flock and suedes and varying substrates like Mylar. “These effects and embellishments are creating wallpapers that are dimensional and intriguing to the eye, making wallpaper more than just a printed surface,” she said.
According to Berberian, large-scale designs have reigned over the past few years and are still popular. “However, there seems to be a renewed interest in small to mid-scale designs, too. New interpretations of traditional—traditional with a twist—are still a popular trend in wallpaper, which we do not see going out of fashion anytime soon. Watercolor effects will be giving traditional designs a facelift.
Another popular type of wallcovering is grasscloth. “The demand for grasscloth is not going anywhere soon,” she said. “Grasscloth wallpapers continue to reinvent themselves with new materials and colors that are lovely to decorate with. Imprinted grasscloth wallpapers are popular, too.”
Taylor, meanwhile, talked about the trend toward natural themes in wallpaper. “With the previous trend for bringing the outside in and the inside out, boundaries are blurring and therefore imagery we would usually see externally is in the home. Inspiration from the forest floor, leaves, layering, ferns and berries will provide a cozy backdrop for 2012,” she said. “Trees are working the walls with lots of branches, trunks and foliage surrounding us with a natural canvas. Textures are also important, with organic lines and fabric effects used as pattern fill or in backgrounds. Flocked wallpaper is making a strong comeback and will continue to do so throughout 2012 and beyond.”
Gina Shaw, Vice President of Product Development for York Wallcoverings, also sees an interest in natural effects, mentioning animal prints specifically. “Animal prints such as leopard, python and ostrich-looks, which we’re accustomed to seeing in handbags and shoes, now make an appearance on the walls. You just want to reach out and touch them.”
Shaw sees some sheen on the wall, like others mentioned. “Metallic looks remain strong—not glitzy metallics, but soft and sophisticated touches of metallic—sometimes in surprising combinations with natural materials. Look for cork wallpapers with hints of gold and silver metallic. Pearlized finishes also add subtle sheen and sophistication.”