Presentations by major wallpaper manufacturers proved among the highlights of this year's Heimtextil. Multilayered patterns in sophisticated color shades were outbidding each other on fleeces, vinyls, textiles, metals, and artificial leathers. The amount of flat relief wallpapers currently available is striking - the term "textured wallpaper" would simply not do justice to these elaborate creations. Elevations and depressions in the material are achieved through embossing; patterns made from pieces of glass, small stones or beads are glued on; two or more layers are stacked atop one another and individual sections cut from the top layers, making bits of the underlying base visible. Moreover, flocking provides a velvety feel and elegant impression, while collages enable the combination of several of these techniques in a single pattern. Light playing on the textured surfaces gives vibrancy to these ornaments. Rough surfaces absorb any remaining light, silk-like materials shimmer, while metallic applications cause the incident rays to bounce off sharply. And sometimes these tiny beads of glass even seem to sparkle.
In the Art déco spirit
Browsing through the sample books of "Arte" gets anyone in a good mood. The selection and graphic design of the motifs, the choice of matching materials and manufacturing techniques (not every pattern looks good on vinyl) and the consistently high quality in production are truly beyond compare. This is not simply about decorating - it is obvious from the collections that their designers have engaged in deep and consummate reflection on the history of wall coverings. Inspired by Art deco, the "Zeppelin" collection is one of the novelties at Arte. Parallel lines featuring concentric circular cutouts glitter in metallic shades and create - depending on light and angle - endlessly changing visual impressions. The existing collections are equally worth considering: "Vento d`Oriente", for example, boasts floral and paisley patterns in pastel shades that are printed on shantung silk. While the surface of "Bark Cloth" is a patchwork composed of hand-sewn bark cloth in black or earthy reds, greens and browns.
These were easily overlooked among the many colorful decors to be admired in hall 3, yet upon closer look we were able to spot the odd technological innovation. Such as the "CCFlex" ceramic wallpaper by "Marburg Wallcovering", originally developed by Evonik and Degussa as part of a research project. Marburg Wallcoverings has now obtained the production and distribution rights. The surface is made of silicates and corundum and has the look and feel of ceramic, but is in fact pliable. Comprehensively tested and suitable even for wet rooms, "CCFlex" meets the high standards in the construction of hotels, public buildings and hospitals and provides a good alternative to tiling. At that the ceramic wallpaper seems anything but sterile and creates an amazingly homey atmosphere. Obviously we cannot yet tell from experience but it looks likely that the high-quality surface could over time develop a nice patina.
The crossover section between wallpaper and wall coverings for panels is also home to the "Stoneplex" collection by "Architects Paper". Already introduced last year, it has now been expanded. Stones such as slate and travertine are ground into a powder, enriched with synthetic and, where possible, eco-friendly additives before they are applied manually to a base material. The process is not only suitable for stone meals; also concrete mixtures can be processed in this manner. Meaning that slate, travertine and concrete no longer seem such heavyweights but are as light and flexible as paper. There are obvious advantages here in terms of transportation, storage and processing. From the viewpoint of design, the implications are that stone surfaces can now take on dimensions that could hitherto not be realized for static reasons.