Big Picture - March 2018 - 17
When asked about initial materials, Casteele says, "It can
be a creation from scratch or perhaps buying a material and
reworking it, sometimes just using the material as is." I must
admit, at first I assumed the role of a surface designer sprung
from a sketchpad or vector files in Adobe Illustrator, but, as I
learned with Casteele, that's not always the case. A project
scan can be made in studio and, just like art, it's painted,
distressed, and given structure, then digitized into a layout,
color separations, and colorwork. Print setups differ as well.
"Some digital printers do not use color separations - in that
case they are limited in creating new colorways." Not an easy
feat for developing digital print content.
Although her job appears to end after delivering RGB or
CMYK design files, in many cases, it doesn't. "I also assist the
customer in making the colorways (digital or analog) in their
lab," she says. "I don't leave before they are satisfied and we
have the perfect color." The collaboration continues onsite
with the digital printer by giving corrections on color, balance,
and contrast, then final approval to start production. All of this
varies from roll media to direct-UV printing onto panels,
mirrors, flooring, and doors (most popular with architects in
the hospitality sector).
While neither analog nor digital print methods are perfect
due to costs and speed, Casteele says if you learn to collaborate,
big things can happen: "Make beautiful products together with
your customer, instead of for your customer. Be the expert in
technique because they are not. With your expertise and their
creativity, you can make the most beautiful, creative, inventive,
and exclusive products ever."
About the future of digital print through collaboration,
Casteele says, "Interior designers and decorators will be able
to print their own objects for the interiors they design."
PRINT FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
CUSTOMIZING FOR CONSUMERS
Now there is a place where designers can partner with one of the
most influential women and early adopters of home décor
e-commerce. If you aren't familiar with Christiane Lemieux,
founder and CEO of The Inside, at least start following her on
Instagram. The Inside is a direct-to-consumer e-commerce
company providing unique home furnishings thanks to ondemand digital printing (for things like wallpaper) and virtual
manufacturing methods using 3D models for furniture (revolutionary among traditionalists in home furnishings).
How revolutionary? Estimated lead times are just three
weeks. "I saw an opportunity to leverage the technology of
design as a way to really change the way furniture was bought
and experienced. I first had the idea for The Inside a couple of
years ago at a time when 3D modeling technology wasn't quite
ready yet." Lemieux also points out consumers' lack of accessibility to custom furniture: "The process is lengthy, complicated, and
costly. All of the readily available and cost-efficient imports that
inundate the market have made furniture shopping bland and
impersonal. We're here to change that."
Our only rule is that there are no rules
because the best interiors are truly personal.
I asked Lemieux what makes a quality manufacturing (or
digital print) partner when aiming to build a stellar e-commerce
site. "As a company that's committed to innovating interiors and
transforming the way consumers shop for their furniture, it's
imperative that our partners are both design-centric and
technology-first. We want to work with the best in the business,
starting all the way at the backend and ending with the customer." Lemieux's company extends further, beyond content and
product curation, encouraging total consumer control. "With our
newly launched customization capability, we're also allowing the
customer to customize and really own the design process for
almost any piece of furniture by choosing from a robust selection
of colors, fabrics, textiles, and more. Our only rule is that there
are no rules because the best interiors are truly personal."
The team recently launched The Everygirl, a collection
inspired by the "Everygirl" herself - a creative, driven woman
who is privy to stylish living and has an appreciation for the
classics, which includes a chaise lounge, a modern bench, two
headboards, a skirted chair, and two ottomans. How else will
digital print influence upcoming product assortment? "Digital
printing is so flexible - it's amazing. We are launching digitally
printed wallpaper soon," Lemieux says.
If you want to be part of the digital décor movement, get
collaborative, creative, and, most of all, diversify your network.
Diversification strategies for business development tactics in new
markets have been implemented throughout many industries and
the digital print community has much to offer. The interior design
industry is at a tipping point and is seeking new technologies
and ways to reach both commercial and consumer markets, so
team up and put innovation in interiors, through digital print.
Depending on how much home décor is in your browser
history, you may have seen a Facebook ad or two pop up from
a Google Ventures-backed e-commerce company called Vida.
Founder and CEO Umaimah Mendhro's visionary global
platform for creatives and manufacturers with a mission for
social change led to infusing digital print technology at its
core. Originally from Pakistan, Mendhro graduated from
Cornell and Harvard, eventually leaving a high-profile job in
the tech field at Microsoft to pursue her original passion for
art and fashion.
How exactly does the platform work? Sign up for free to be
a Vida artist and your art content will be digitally printed and
manufactured by a Vida maker, from scarves (the original Vida
product) to apparel essentials, and now home accessories
such as pillows, wood, wall tapestries, and printed glass trays.
Through the concept of zero waste and no inventory, every
piece is made to order with a one-to-six week lead time.
Collaboration, content, and storytelling are truly what makes
Vida so unique. It's also led Mendhro and her team to impressive
heights. "We've proudly partnered with the Museum of Modern
Art in San Francisco, launched an exclusive collection with the
iconic Cher, collaborated with Steve Madden and Iris Apfel, and
showcased our collections at the Golden Globes," Mendhro says.
While Vida currently touts more than 100,000 artists in 150
countries, and more than a million pieces of art, there are big
plans to add new products to its home collection. Vida is
currently expanding with US-based manufacturing and
welcomes makers, digital print providers, and material
partners in its exploration of new home décor applications.