I recently interviewed Mr Pascal Siellet, President of the IGI – The Global Wallcoverings Association to understand more about the development and evolution of the Wallpaper industry and to explore the impact of Digital on this traditional analogue industry.
The 47 year old entrepreneur, Pascal Siellet, is owner of France’s last remaining Wall paper producer UGEPA and was elected 10 months ago as President of IGI, the association of wallpaper producers. As a good communicator with experience of international sales and running a multimillion Euro Wallpaper business, his appointment as President came at the right time to ensure the association had the right type of ‘leadership’ to be taken in the perfect direction to exploit new opportunities and develop the association’s awareness around the globe.
As President of IGI and CEO of UGEPA, what challenges do you foresee for the Wallpaper industry facing in the next few years ?
Our industry is changing. More and more of demand for our traditional long run business do come from overseas markets, in truth there is less demand for large scale wallpaper production in Europe.
For lots of reasons our business in Europe has evolved. Fashion and modern buildings means that wallpaper is not used so much to cover four walls. It is clear there is no real difference between flat paper with no design and painted walls and so consumers will ask why they should buy wallpaper? It has to do something different now.
So, we at UGEPA are really shifting our thinking towards creative – speciality wall coverings – High value and innovative wall coverings for home, retail and office space.
And, we see this trend across other members of the IGI association.
UGEPA seems to be a company that really understands its customer’s needs – what are they asking for at the moment? Do you now work more closely with designers, brands, architects, specifiers etc.. as well as the converters and retail outlets?
There is definitely a sense that experiential environments are important. The market has shifted towards a ‘fashion’ focused market. People are looking for the ‘wow’ factor and with speciality inks and textures and reliefs, we can start to deliver this. At UGEPA we have created our own collection of wallpaper designs, we see ourselves as both designer and producer of wallpaper. As well as employing 120 workers throughout the factory, we have a ten-member design team focused on developing mural decorations that inspire our customers. But we are also opened to any contribution from freelance and outside of Ugepa designer’s inputs.
For us at the moment the ideal customer is the big chain of shops particularly in Western Europe, with clear ideas about popular designs and ranges. But in the future we know that customers might change and increasing direct consumers may become more relevant.
Can digital printed wallpaper offer you new opportunities? What is your view of the new technologies that are available to you ?
We understand that short run custom production is a developing trend and we have been looking seriously at investing in digital technology. I know from talking to other members of IGI that many have chosen to use machines like HP Latex to offer digital wall production, but we are looking at it in a different way.
We would like to work with a machine manufacturer to develop a hybrid technology that combines digital head technology with rotary gravure/screen production. This would allow us to create a customised solution for producing bespoke wallpaper design. I like the idea of mixing our old trusted technology with new innovative ways of doing things.
We would be really interested to talk to companies who exhibit at InPrint as I understand that these are typically the types of challenges that they are managing to solve
IGI, the Global Wallcoverings Association, is a world-wide not-for-profit organisation with the mission to increase the ability of wallcovering industry members to solve their business problems by providing a forum for discussion, disseminating information, and representing the industry before government and standards bodies in order to facilitate the establishment and the promotion of industry standards.
Founded in 1950 and headquartered in Belgium, the 114 members of IGI represent the main players of the wallcovering industry – manufacturers and suppliers – active in the five continents of the world. IGI members are committed to cooperation in addressing common goals and issues such as ethical practices, quality standards, functionality, and innovation.
Find out more by contacting:
Géraldine de Limelette - Secretary General IGI
The Global Wallcoverings Association
Chaussée de Louvain 426
B – 1380 Lasne
Ph : +32 2 720 00 09