Wallpapers can be quite controversial. They can be typical of old-fashioned and antiquated homes, but at the same time, they can also add personality to otherwise dull spaces. One of the best parts of using these elements is that they can be quickly installed, and with relatively low costs. This also means that they aren't very long-lasting, and can therefore be quickly discarded and replaced, making them transient decoration items. As Joanna Banham—a researcher on wallpapers—states, “Wallpaper is often regarded as the Cinderella of the Decorative Arts – the most ephemeral and least precious of the decorations produced for the home. Yet, the history of wallpaper is a long and fascinating subject that dates back to the 16th century and encompasses a huge range of beautiful patterns created both by anonymous hands and by some of the best-known designers of the 19th and 20th centuries.” Today we are seeing another wallpaper resurgence, with numerous options of materials, patterns, and colors, and several examples of architects who have used them creatively in their projects. In this article, we go through the history of wallpapers and some of the current alternatives on the market, by diving into the Architonic catalog.
The invention of wallpaper is attributed to the Chinese during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC and 206 BC), which was made of rice paper. As time went on though, it was in Europe that it gained popularity. As this report by Andrea Watson of the BBC shows, there are traces of wallpaper being used in the 16th century, and innovations such as the invention of block printing made its use more widespread. In addition, the first wallpaper-printing machine invented in 1785 made France the leading country in manufacturing and using these products. Long before that, however, during the Middle Ages, pieces of gold leather were hung on the walls, whose function went beyond decoration as they also provided thermal insulation. The so-called Cuir de Cordoue were later replaced by tapestries, although both were reserved for the wealthier classes. By 1830 in England, when these elements were already common and coveted, the first roll of wallpaper was developed, significantly reducing production costs and popularizing them.
In the 19th century, wallpaper began to be mass-produced and saw continuous technological improvements. The wallpaper therefore becomes widely accessible to all, as they can be made from a variety of materials. Today there are options in polyester, vinyl, cellulose, paper and even silk, which differ in their properties and in how they are installed. The main criteria of choice tend to be colors and design and, thanks to digital printing, the possibilities are endless. In addition to appearance, however, there are currently wallpapers that have other functional characteristics. This includes sound absorption qualities, fire resistance, anti-microbial, stain repellent and waterproof. Although relatively simple, its installation and calculation of quantities requires some precautions, as seen in this article.
Below, we have selected some examples of existing patterns currently found in the Architonic catalog.
Repetitive and geometric patterns give spaces a sober appearance and can work well for offices, bedrooms and kitchens.
With all the current large-scale printing technologies, high-resolution photographs can refresh spaces. However, these should be used carefully, in a small part of the room or at most one wall, so that it does not become too overwhelming.
These are possibly the most common wallpapers today. Using a fun wallpaper makes for an especially pleasant environment for children's rooms. These can even have educational patterns, with shapes, letters or other objects.
Nature inspired wallpapers evoke calm and wellbeing, especially when they include floral and plant patterns. Flowers, leaves and attractive colors highlight plant species, exotic landscapes and seasonal changes.
These were the first patterns used for wallpapers and to this day remain pleasing to many. Arabesques (designs formed by geometric patterns) are widely used on surfaces, tapestry and decoration in general, and bring a classy feel to environments.
See more options of Wall Coverings / Wallpapers in Architonic.