WA members share insight

What’s new with wallcoverings? We spoke with Wallcoverings Association members for their insight into trends, challenges and forecasts. Read from Jeff Dey, director, marketing, Astek; Dan Brandt, VP, product & marketing, MDC Interior Solutions; and Carol Miller, marketing manager, York Wallcoverings below:

How was this past year for you? What did you learn?
Dey: 2022 was a strong growth year for Astek Wallcovering, with the hospitality side of our business continuing to rebound. The desire to travel is back and the hotel/hospitality industry is strong and that is not going away.
Brandt: The past 12 months have been challenging in that the hospitality market has been slow to recover. That being said, we have seen a sharp upturn in sampling and project quotations, which is a great sign of things to come over the next year. It was important to MDC to continue to invest in systems and product development so that when there were opportunities we were ideally positioned to service those needs.
Miller: One of the most important things we learned was that tailoring and directing marketing tools and trends toward specific channels made them more valuable and easier to use for our distributors.

York Wallcoverings Chevronel

What design trends are you seeing for 2023?
Dey: In the hospitality industry, we are still seeing a strong desire to design spaces that have local ties to the community and tell that story.
Brandt: There are several trends we are seeing for 2023. The first is the interest in bespoke design—bringing a unique aesthetic decor to each property. The continued advancements in digital print technologies allow for freedom of design, which was more complicated using traditional printing techniques. The result is one-of-a-kind “art for the walls.” The second is product that marries form and function—utilizing materials that bring a benefit to the space beyond color and design. Acoustic solutions continue to draw interest across interior designers, architects and end users.
Miller: Design blending with functionality—the practical modern formality of commercial spaces now incorporates themes and textures from casual living, contrasting crisp structure with soft texture and modern colors. The Quiet Luxury aesthetic—quality as the defining attribute of a space. Subtle and versatile, it defies trends and enhances long-term appeal through refinement.

MDC Zintra Acoustic

How are you taking advantage of those?
Dey: With that trend, our core business of creating custom wallcoverings has benefitted and continued to grow.
Brandt: In order to take advantage of this MDC has created an in-house team of graphic designers, engineers and project architects.
Miller: By developing the addition of fabrics with diversity, flexibility and sustainability, we have created a portfolio of products that meet the demands and complexity of the commercial market. As a wallpaper manufacturer for over 125 years, the York Design Studio is the perfect creative environment to develop the quality standards and finishes desired by this return to understated elegance.

What about some challenges for 2023? How do you plan on overcoming those?
Dey: Owners that held off on renovations the last few years are now moving forward full speed ahead. With that, everyone wants everything as quickly as possible—the biggest challenge is simply the management of expectations of all stakeholders. Construction and manufacturing take time. Being that Astek prints everything in-house, in our own production facility domestically in Southern California, we are able to step in and help deliver on projects with the most aggressive timelines.
Brandt: Design firms are leaning on MDC to provide value-added services such as acoustic consultation, design development, space planning and more. As a company we continue to invest to ease the burden on the volume of projects each firm is trying to manage.
Miller: The past year has been a swing back to the priority of the workplace and adjusting the balance between home and office. This new workplace mobility combines all the physicality of sampling and sourcing tools combined with the search convenience of digital sourcing. Ongoing web initiatives for enhancement as well as implementing a faster, more efficient sampling system have created new jobs as well as positive results for moving samples into the marketplace. Meanwhile, demands on the labor pool affect every aspect of manufacturing today, from tradesmen such as installers, to supply chain demands and employee training and turnover. By supporting the WA’s efforts for installers and working with the York Economic Alliance to promote apprenticeship trades to graduating seniors, we are tapping into the emerging workforce with an abundance of opportunities.

Astek Terrene Earthen Terracotta

What do you expect for wallcoverings in the next few years?
Dey: Overall the industry is healthy which is great for wallcoverings. I do see a more grassroots and genuine desire, from both the industry and our clients, to see more sustainable product offerings. I do see the wallcovering industry bringing more sustainable products to the market over the next few years.
Brandt: New printing and fabrication processes, as well as the composition of materials will continue to drive the options in interior finishes. The ability to globally source and a focus on health and wellness assist in minimizing our carbon footprint; something we all strive for.
Miller: The circular economy to reduce, reuse and recycle will prompt a minimization of resource use, maximize the reuse of products and parts, and recycle raw materials using high standards for low environmental impact. All of these will drive innovation and techniques in wallpaper manufacturing in the next few years.