Wooden planks, tin tiles, bricks - materiality and texture thanks to digital printing techniques

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No, the following will not be centred around photographic wallpapers. In fact, this article will be an attempt at doing away with the continuous onslaught of Caribbean panoramas on front room walls which has lasted for far too long. Wallpapers are two-dimensional per se, and hence without depth, but let's take this opportunity to think about materiality and spatiality. In other words, we are talking about optical illusions. Digital printing techniques and high resolution scanners have made it possible to print on paper and non-woven fabrics so realistically that almost any material can be reproduced incredibly convincingly: concrete, wood, tin, or a library of books.

We live in times of sensory overload. All day long, we are confronted with pictures, news and information, a fact that has spawned the "trend of reduction" in all creative areas, often entwined with a longing for nature and the "good old times", before technology took over. Simplicity or the Caribbean, that is the question. And the answer is clear: The simpler, the better!

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Be it fashion or architecture - we seek simplicity in all spheres of life in order to achieve a sense of calm and to escape the constant flood of information. Minimalism and plain materials provide the answer. Wallpaper designs are no exception, quite the contrary: designers like NLXL or Studio Ditte provide wallpapers like "Scrapwood", which recreate old weathered wood in a deceptively realistic manner. Alternatively, there are, for instance, old tin tiles like those that were used in their millions in factory and storage facilities in North America around 1900.

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They are the result of a specific digital printing technique which works with electrophotographic systems, similar to those photocopying devices use. The extremely detailed scan processes involved deliver high-res templates, which make the incredibly realistic depiction of materials and textures possible. The material most commonly printed on is non-woven fabric: Instead of paper, the carrier material used for non-woven fabric wall décor is a mixture of cellulose and textile fibres. This material is extremely low-maintenance as it won't extend or shrink and there is no need for a tressle table - the wallpaper paste can be applied directly to the wall.

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The depth effect of such wallpapers is astonishing. In order to determine whether the texture is real or a reproduction, it is often necessary to actually touch them. But the fact that these are "only" pictures does not diminish the stunning effect on a room. Wood, feathers, a brick wall or even animal hides become part of the urban environment of a city apartment and invoke a sense of peace and relaxation.

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Simultaneously, the choice of motive reveals an artistic flair: During the early phases of modernity, artists like László Moholy-Nagy or, later on, Bernd and Hilla Becher focussed on the exploration of structures and typologies. By introducing pictures of materials and textures into our homes, we create - fully in line with our digitised world - comfortable and artful environments that fill us with a sense of well-being. So let us take you on a journey to new realities - far removed from the palmtree-studded beaches of the Caribbean.

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