At CBS Office Interiors we’re big fans of feature walls in our own offices as well as office spaces that we design. They create a focal point, reinforce corporate branding as well as giving the space some personality. Our previous article looked at using graphics to liven up plain walls and disguise storage units, but wallpaper is also a great way to create a feature wall. Yes wallpaper, the Cinderella of interior design. For many years wallcoverings were out of favour but they are now experiencing a resurgence, not just in homes but in offices too. From a corporate point of view, it may be easy to disregard wallpaper due to its association with domestic interiors, but there are many bold patterns or subtly textured papers which work really well in an office environment.
Wallpaper – A Brief History
Wallpaper actually has a long history and was first used by the Chinese who glued rice paper onto their walls as early as 200 B.C. In the 8th century, several Chinese prisoners working in Arabia revealed their papermaking skills. The Arabs then spread this knowledge throughout the Middle East. Paper wallcoverings became fashionable in Europe among the wealthy during the Renaissance and the earliest known fragment of European wallpaper that still exists today dates from 1509 and was found on the beams of the Lodge of Christ’s College in Cambridge. Even flock, the epitome of bad taste for the last 30 odd years has a long and impressive history; the earliest surviving examples were made in Worcester in 1680. The high point for wallpaper ran from the Victorian era, when a riot of colour and pattern was popular, through to the Twenties, but as the century wore on, the desire for minimalism meant that wallpaper fell out of favour and became the poor relation. Nowadays though, digital and printing technologies mean that anything can be printed – from large murals to reproductions of historical patterns – and wallpaper is experiencing an interior design revival. We also talk more about wallcoverings rather than wallpaper with the advent of washable, long lasting materials. Who knows, we might even come full circle and put rice paper up on our walls again!
Wallpaper in the 21st century
Custom Wallpaper Printing
Thanks to new digital inkjet printing technologies bespoke wallcoverings are relatively inexpensive and much more accessible. Very small runs can be made, even for single walls, using photographs, maps and digital art. These are perfect for reception areas, meeting rooms or restaurants and breakout spaces. The image below, from top UK wallpaper firm Tektura showing an old map, illustrates the impact of these digital prints.
A trick of the eye; at first glance this ‘Library’ wallpaper, which provides a stunning backdrop to these bookcases and makes you think there are more books than there actually are. It’s only when you focus clearly that you can see the real books!
High Tech Wallpaper
So what does the future hold for wallpaper? New types of wallcoverings are constantly in development; for example wallpaper that blocks certain mobile phone and WiFi signals, in the interest of privacy and even wallpaper that can help prevent masonry falling in an earthquake! (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
At CBS, we’re excited by the design possibilities of the whole range of wallcoverings available and can’t wait to incorporate them into our projects. Contact Natalie for more information on how you can use wonderful wallpaper in your office.