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Large Format Printing: Digital Décor Is on the Rise

I’m starting to see a lot of articles on digital décor in recent weeks. It doesn’t surprise me. I had read about digital custom printing on floor tiles and even on glass in prior months, but this now seems to be a tsunami of expanding market interest, an unstopable force.

Heimtextil in Frankfort, Germany

In a January 15 article posted on, Adrian Wilson describes the digital décor offerings at Heimtextil in Frankfurt, Germany (which ran from January 9 through January 12). Entitled “The Power of Digital Decor at Heimtextil,” this article references the “technical textiles, nonwovens, and synthetic leather…, glass, and brickwork” showcased by HP at the trade show.

HP’s interior design displays ranged from a living room to a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a dentist’s office, reflecting the benefits of HP’s latex inks and Indigo digital technology in sample wallpaper treatments, flooring, textiles, and furniture.

In addition, HP specifically highlighted their HP Indigo Wallpaper, which makes HP Indigo 20000 digital technology ideal for producing short-run wallcoverings due to its speed and “gravure-quality” output.

In its displays HP also included OLEDs integrated into the wallcovering, adding a source of light to the wall treatments.

What Can We Learn from This Article?

    1. There is enough consumer demand for printed textiles that OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have been investing heavily in extra-wide format digital presses as well as high-fastness pigmented ink formulations and latex ink formulations.


    1. The specific items interior designers have been digitally printing have expanded. They now include wallpaper, curtains, blinds, cushions, lampshades, tiles, bed linens, and glass, just to name a few.


    1. Manufacturers are taking into consideration the environmental impact of their offerings. For instance, latex ink is odorless and environmentally sound. Also, the dentist’s office display at Heimtextil included antibacterial wallpaper, according to Wilson’s article.


    1. Digital décor designers are branching out from surface design into product design, with some items based on recent advances in science and technology. Specifically, Wilson’s article references a lounge with sound-absorbing sofas, as well as the aforementioned OLED lights positioned within the wallpaper.


    1. All of this consumer interest and technological innovation is spurring demand for the skills of interior designers and fabric designers.


  1. Since the more traditional commercial printing technologies used for decorating interior fabrics were analog in nature—screen printing and gravure, for instance—they required a lot of preparation, and therefore long press runs were necessary for a job to be economically feasible. Now, even though screen printing and gravure are still used for long runs of wallpaper or fabric, a digital option exists for profitable short runs. This means that prototypes can be developed quickly, and products can come to market faster. Moreover, everyone can essentially have their own completely customized environment.

To all of these benefits noted in Wilson’s article, “The Power of Digital Decor at Heimtextil,” I would add the following observations from my own reading online and in the trade journals:

    1. In terms of the digital decoration of personal home space, I have noticed that since 9/11 and then the 2008 stock market decline, many people have been more likely to stay at home and “nest” (the media has also called this “cocooning”). I think that prioritizing home and family has motivated many people to make their home surroundings as beautiful and unique as possible. At the same time, the flexibility of digital printing has democratized interior design, since it lends itself to unlimited mass customization. Everyone can create his or her dream environment. (I think 3D custom printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has contributed—and will continue to contribute–to this trend.)


  1. In terms of commercial interior designers’ starting to include digitally printed floor tiles, glass, and fabrics in their work, I think this is in part a reflection of more companies’ competing for fewer clients. I think companies are setting themselves apart from their competition in part by creating an artfully designed interior for their workspaces. This can be a subtle, even subconscious, influence–but nevertheless a powerful one–in a customer’s choice of a vendor.

InfoTrends Study on Digital Décor Printing

I found another article on the InfoTrends website ( entitled “Profit Through Digital Printing in the Décor Marketplace.” It is focused more on architects and interior designers, but in many ways it echoes the sentiments of the first article by Adrian Wilson. Like the first article, the InfoTrends article also recognizes an increase in digital décor design over the last ten years.

The InfoTrends article addresses a scholarly study of the digital design market, noting the desire of both individual consumers and businesses to “surround themselves with color rich materials at work, at home, or anywhere that can benefit from innovative architectural and interior design” (“Profit Through Digital Printing in the Décor Marketplace”).

This article goes on to acknowledge the powerful human need to customize one’s living and working space and the accessibility of this dream made possible through digital custom printing on tile, glass, flooring, wallcoverings, and laminates.

Like the first article about the textile printing show in Frankfurt, Germany, this article notes the following drivers of increased interest in digital décor:

    1. A desire for mass customization. Digital technology frees printers from the arduous make-ready that makes screen printing and gravure only appropriate for longer press runs. With digital commercial printing, a vendor can create an environment for only one client and still make a profit.


    1. A desire for sustainability in printing. Increasingly the digital technologies (such as latex inksets) are becoming ecologically sound.


    1. Faster production cycles. Businesses and individual consumers demand quicker turn-arounds, and the nature of digital commercial printing supports faster print production of interior décor than analog printing technologies.


    1. A desire to reduce inventory. The on-demand nature of digital custom printing makes this possible.


  1. Flexibility in printing substrates. Customers want to be able to print on anything. Ink formulations for digital printing are coming to market that address this need. For instance, UV inksets are ideal for laminate flooring (i.e., products that take more abuse than walls). These ink formulations can be both durable and more ecologically sound than solvent-based commercial printing options.

What Can We Learn from This Article?

    1. This article addresses a survey of trends in digital décor design and production. Based on the article’s description of the survey’s methodology, audience, and participants, InfoTrends clearly takes very seriously the uptick in digital décor demand and the ensuing technological growth.


    1. This increased activity in digital décor custom printing offers increasing opportunities for designers who may be finding fewer demands for their skills in other areas of print media.


  1. As consumer demand increases for digital printing of interior design products, the number of available substrates is also expanding, including flooring, carpet, tile, laminates, textiles, signs, glass, and wallcoverings.

2 Responses to “Large Format Printing: Digital Décor Is on the Rise”


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