Wallpaper Trends with Dave Abbotts (Nov Report, 2016)

For me, decorating with wallcoverings has always been about dressing your walls to compliment an interior scheme. This in turn, creates an ambiance that reflects the persons’ lifestyle, personality – be it classic, contemporary or whatever!

Viewing the present landscape of wallcovering trends, the term “whatever!” is quite apt as there is now such a wide variety of styles on offer. From a design point of view, it makes it very exciting and it’s great to see new life being injected into a decorating medium that was for a while, seen as passé.

Current popularity would be the design elements geared for ‘Feature wall’, which, by their category, creates most comment. Feature walls, over the last decade, have become increasingly important when considering a new decorative scheme and its fair to say that this element can take most of the credit for bringing wallpaper back onto the radar in interior décor.

Presently a popular trend that has established itself over the last few years is the “Industrial Style” exemplified by faux brick, be it factory wall or painted loft apartment style. Distressed timber, faux concrete and riveted metal plate are also examples of this style.

The evolution in print technique in this area has lifted these out of the quiche brick and ivy to a new realism that will satisfy the most ardent of grunge hunter. Grandeco’s Exposed collection along with Rasch’s Crispy Paper collection display some excellent examples of this genre along with another trend style that has been gaining momentum.


Conversational – this trend for a while, was termed quirky and covered all manner of images from glittering skulls to factory lockers. From the uniqueness of imaging employed, a new name was conjured to create a more fitting adjective hence ‘conversational’ came into the wallcovering vocabulary. Initially seen as a one hit wonder, it seems to have gained wider appeal with more mills creating collections around this genre. One could say this style really exemplifies the feature wall trend as a focus for design statements that is wallpaper but ‘not as we know it Jim’.


Having such an eclectic mix of design styles in this area, sub-trends have spawned to become trends in their own category. 3D or tromp l’oeil is one that’s grown out of this area, covering images of architectural styles such as wood paneling, concrete moldings, (even images of Lego get in on the act).

Ugepa’s Replik is a classic example of this genre. Aspiring Walls will shortly release a collection titled “Conversational” which has picked the best from current collections to make the design selection an easier process.

This range is one of a series of “Focus” collections highlighting current design trends.

The first in this series that has recently been released into the market is proving very popular. The Black & White book is a range that covers most of the trending design styles in colour-ways that gravitate to black-white highlighting continuing the popularity of this classic combination.


Other trends identified in this series will focus on, Italian Textures, Italian Classics and Paintable wallcovering. With Italian Texture, we highlight just a part of what still is a dominant trend in this market.

Textures have for a long time now, generated most of the volume in the NZ market. Essentially its’ colour on a roll with an embossed profile. Styles in textures echo for the most part natural surface effects highlighting granite, stone, wood and textile. With recent exposure of grasscloth via DIY TV, textured weave effects with a horizontal direction are gaining a higher profile. Look for the new Whites and Neutrals due for release in last quarter 2016 as well as examples of basket weave in the Riviera Maison collection from B+N.


Moving into other design areas and something that compliments the grasscloth style, are designs with a tropical influence, something I term “Tropic Exotic”. Exotic palm and banana tree design are now popping up in collections from York’s Ashford Tropics as well as in Paradise from Holden and Rasch’s Crispy Paper.


Florals have always been a part of the world of wallpaper displayed in many styles, be it watercolour, pastel, formal or cartoon. In Eijffinger’s Masterpiece collection they have reached their most opulent statement so far. This collection displays classic floral paintings from the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam placed into, via the wonders of Photoshop, wallpaper pattern layout. The result is a stunning collection turning high art into classic design statements.


For those seeking a traditional classic look, the art of wallpaper can service this requirement very easily. This trend is one of the archetypes of wallpaper art, illustrated by the classic damasks, brocade stripe and flowing ornamental design.

Italian design exemplifies this styling with the use of heavy emboss profiles to add elegance and authenticity to this design oeuvre. As already mentioned, Aspiring will be soon launching its focus on Italian Classics to provide the perfect solution for elegant interiors.

Trends are cyclic – they wax and wane over time.

Environment affects lifestyle, which also plays an influencing role in the alchemy of design trend.

The psychology of trends and their direction are mere echoes from the ether of society.

Astute designers will have their antennas placed high up there like a weather balloon picking up wind direction of images and feelings.

In this part of the world, we count ourselves fortunate to be where we are close to coast and country.

Taking account of this, Aspiring Walls is looking forward to launching a new Whites and Neutrals collection, sub-titled with a nautical drift. Dominated by a neutral palette of texture, textural designs included have a coastal flavour both in colour and design.


Picking up on the current trends, designs of sun bleached timber, lime washed walls along with weathered grasscloth are included to create a coastal ambiance (be it residential or bach).

The proliferation of different trends illustrates the diversity of the market. It may also be an illustration of how the world is getting smaller and through various media channels, we are exposed now to a much wider scope of trends.

I guess like fashion, it’s a searching for an identity that one feels comfortable with and like a favourite item of clothing, dressing walls in a style that one loves can make one feel equally as good.

Of course, the ultimate in that search for originality would be the move into digital murals using images from photo or digital design. Whatever the reasons, long may it continue as it also illustrates a healthy society where diversity of choice is celebrated, not condemned.


Dave Abbotts