A brighter look for German homes
It was almost 150 years ago that chemist Hugo Erfurt invented woodchip wallpaper. Painted white, it was Germany’s favourite wall covering for many decades. But times are changing. “For the last three or four years, there has been a clear trend towards colour and patterns”, says Karsten Brandt, General Manager of the German Wallpaper Institute (Deutsches Tapeteninstitut).
“White will certainly never be out of fashion because white stands for a world full of emotion”, explains Heiko Trimpel, Marketing Manager of Alpina Farben, and adds, “However, there is an unmistakable trend towards colour and the perspectives opened up by painting are unlimited.”
Nevertheless, paint and a brush are not always enough to set special accents and create sophisticated patterns. In this case, wallpaper is an increasingly popular answer.
“Bold shades, big motifs and floral designs are ‘in’. Wallpaper is used to create a special atmosphere”, explains Brandt. In this connection, Jens Klotmann, General Manager of Graham & Brown GmbH Deutschland, says, “Using wallpaper, it is easy to make a room look completely different or simply create a new, fresh impression – for example, with a ‘feature wall’, which means spotlighting just one wall with wallpaper.”
To illustrate what papered walls can look like, the German Wallpaper Institute opened a showroom in Hamburg in November 2008. Five cubes, each with a different home interior design, a presentation wall and numerous wallpaper catalogues offer an insight into the world of wall decorating. Today, however, many of the 6,000 patterns are no longer printed on paper. “Fleece wallpaper is very popular. It has pushed paper products aside and now holds a market share of over 50 percent. That of paper is down to about 30 percent. The remaining 20 percent is held by structured and textile wallpapers”, says Brandt.
The main reason for the popularity of fleece products is the ease with which it can be hung. The paste is applied straight to the wall. Then comes the fleece wallpaper, which can be torn down again in one piece at some point in the future when the occupier decides to redecorate.
It was almost 20 years ago that the Marburger Tapetenfabrik launched wallpaper with a fleece backing. This was followed five years later by a complete collection. The British company of Graham & Brown, which aims to conquer the German market, offers a wide variety of designs in this sector.
About this and the trend in general, Jens Klotmann says, “We are convinced that wallpaper has an enormous potential in Germany as a lifestyle product and this estimate is confirmed by the great demand for our products.”
Photos 1, 2 and 3 © Bettina McDowell