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It’s a well-known fact that I could never be accused of having my finger on the pulse when it comes to technology. My phone is not completely stupid, but it could hardly be called smart. I still sometimes sit gazing in awe as a fax comes through. And when my designers told me that we needed a 10” tablet my initial reaction was how on earth am I going to swallow that!? Mind you, when it comes to spotting trends in the field of interior design and running with them, that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.
The feature wall has now been with us for many a year, and although not as de rigueur as it once was, there are still plenty of new wallpaper collections being launched aiming at just this market. However, there’s a new kid in town, and one who could turn out to become the leader of the pack! (I do love speaking in song titles, especially as it annoys my wife intensely). Yes, the advent of relatively inexpensive digital printing has brought with it the wall panel.
The early examples of this were the odd image of something or somewhere iconic, such as the Empire State Building, slotted into a collection of otherwise relatively normal wallpapers, and were I think regarded as a bit of a novelty by most designers but largely ignored. Well you can ignore a few initial spots of rain, but by the time you’re standing in a downpour you’d better take notice.
Designers Guild were one of the first main stream design houses to make full use of the technology, coming up with the most stunning floral panels in their Zepherine collection. Even now, a couple of years later, they still have a large dollop of Wow factor. They swiftly followed this with Saraille, a wall panel in which a single colour runs up the wall, grading in intensity from bottom to top. This can be used as a single set or in multiples to create a splendid effect.
The French company Caselio have just launched two new paper collections, one aimed at teenage girls, the other at teenage boys, which include a number of really well thought out small panels. There’s a lovely design that evokes the feel of a summer beach party, and a really smart one that mimics an airport departure board.
The wall panel is now such a phenomenon that not only are the established major players coming on board, but new companies are springing up catering solely for this market. And boy are they pushing the boundaries – which of course due to the nature of digital technology are pretty much endless! Not only can you select from hundreds of thousands of readily available images, you can have the finished panel sized to exactly fit your wall and delivered in a matter of days. And if that’s not individual enough, you can even upload your own image. So, if you have a favourite picture of a warthog you met on safari in Africa, or one of just you and the family on Southend-on-Sea beach (oh the memories), you can now transform them into a giant panel which will fill your whole wall – how good is that? There are a couple of caveats though; you’ll have to make sure that your original image is of high enough quality – and by that I mean number of pixels etc. not content (unless of course you’re thinking of uploading a picture of Nigel Farage – no really, I’m joking), and there mustn’t be any copyright issues.
The two main protagonists in the field are Mr Perswall and Rebel Walls. And to say they make it easy for you is an understatement. You can either go to your local stockist and see the actual designs in book form as well as feeling the quality of the paper itself, or simply visit the relevant website and check out their extensive libraries.
In the case of Mr Perswall you just select your required image, enter your wall sizes, click on your retailer of choice to collect from (which in your case dear reader will obviously be John Charles Interiors!), and that’s it. From then on it’s even easier. It’s a paste the wall product (simplicity itself ), and comes on a single roll with lines on the back that show you exactly where to cut it into strips. The only thing they’re having trouble developing is finding a decorator small enough to go in the box, who would then pop out and hang it for you. But given time enough…who knows ?
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - July 2014