This section offers an overview of how a new wallcovering is created. It summarizes each step in the process – from design to printing to shipping – and includes notes how technology is changing the way wallcoverings are made.
- New Designs are designed to be current in the market for anywhere from 5-7 years.
- New designs may take approximately 12-24 months to create.
The Design Selection
- Design is the first step in creating a new line.
- Wallcoverings designs often parallel color and designs found in the fashion industry.
- Designers also borrow designs from nature, foreign countries, historic wallcoverings and their own imaginations.
- Manufacturers collect designs from in-house design staff, freelance wallcoverings designers or design firms.
- Designs are collected.
- Designs evaluated by in-house staff
- Design staff may show patterns to prospective clients and sales teams (known as field surveys) to select new patterns.
The Design Process
- After designs are selected, the designs are scanned.
- Color layers are computer separated with specialty software called Computer Aided Design (CAD) by a trained CAD designer.
- Wide format black and white prints of the design separations or layers are then reviewed to check step-and-repeats, tracking and trimlines.
- Any problems that arise are corrected.
NOTE: In the last several years, design separation work has moved from film based photography to digitally printed images. Many wallcoverings firms have wide format printers in order to print and review images up to 44" by 54", more than enough to see repeated images in the typical repeat size of 18"H x 27" wide.
- Once separations are complete, disk with the correct separations is handed to roller or print cylinder engravers.
- Engraver will etch design onto rollers.
- Sample runs are printed to guarantee quality. While separations are made, colors for the pattern are being decided.
- Colorists (color designers) take digital file and create colorways for the pattern.
- Colorists use visual aids, like color chips and CAD software to develop the color palette.
- Stylist may develop 30 colorways for editing to 18 SKUs.
- If the design involves metallics or pearls, finished print rollers and production printers will be used to develop the color line.
- Typical color line range is 12 SKUs to 24 SKUs per pattern.
- Once colors are selected, stylist then will make a layout of the colorline in a tipcard, a typical sampling format.
- The tipcard contains all the colorways that will be manufactured for that design.
The Production Process
- When the finished rollers arrive from the engraver, the product will be proofed at the test wall.
- The engraving coordinator will do a quality check and proof to ensure proper printing.
- If any problems are found, the pattern may need some minor modification to be producible.
- Once the checks are complete, design, colorline, print, and emboss or finish roller selections are made and production is scheduled.
- Each colorway goes through a quality check for final approval.
- Masters or color standards are created from the first runs and kept on file for future reference and production orders.
- Sample runs are sent by production to the sample or bindery house.
- Bindery house cuts samples into field formats:
- Presentation boards to be used to introduce the line by distributor sales reps to their customers;
- 8x10 memo sets for requests from customers for a sample of a particular pattern and color;
- Tipcards which show the whole color line of the pattern and are stored in a binder in the customers' libraries.
Customers typically order off these presentation pieces and, once ordered, bolts of wallcoverings are printed, packaged and shipped.
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