Printers & Designers: To Thrive, Let’s Learn Each Other’s Language

As print professionals, we’ve seen how fast today’s digital technology can evolve and push boundaries, from signage to trade shows and beyond. Now, many of us are eyeing a hot, new market segment: digital interior décor. Driven by web-integrated software and unique substrates, this opportunity is already posting big numbers in the U.S., to the tune of $21 billion annually in the home accents category alone.

Customizable wallcoverings, canvas wraps, lamp shades, pillows and window shades are just the beginning of what enterprising print providers can offer. But to whom, exactly, are they marketing these new services?

This space is owned by interior designers, art makers, home décor brands and retailers who already have an established customer base and workflow for choosing those décor options. Printers, however, can expand the designers’ capabilities by producing high-margin, short run, highly customized items.

A designer recently told me, “… the client doesn’t care how it’s made, just that it looks good and we are able to make it happen.” But, of course, designer do care.

So how do savvy printers and designers connect? On recent travels, I’ve scoped the market by working backwards: building relationships at architectural and design shows, art fairs, wholesale and furniture shows. In doing so, I realized we speak very different languages. However, surely there are ways to understand one another in ways that create even more opportunities for all. Some examples:

Collections vs. Short Runs: What a designer considers “collections” can correlate to a printer’s “customized short runs.” “Collections” are often inspired by a season, fashion or new concepts such as organic, minimalistic or form and function. Print technology enables on-demand manufacturing through digital or customized, short-runs. When designer and printer collaborate, almost anything is possible. 

Color Inspiration vs. Color Reproduction: Color inspiration is much deeper than selecting colors according to one’s taste; it’s a strategic selection of color in a project to obtain an emotion or response within a space or collection. Ink density, color gamut and color calibration all tell the story of achieving the perfect print and the ability to hit certain colors. Pairing vision with accuracy opens a world of opportunity.

Design for Well-being vs. Print Performance: Well-being isn’t a new concept in the design world, but it might be new to printers. Architects and designers transform spaces to promote healthful environments, most often found in schools and healthcare facilities. Building materials may also be measured to help build a project’s value by environmental organizations, such as the LEED U.S. Green Building Council in the U.S., through health production declarations (HPD) or environmental product declarations (EPD). This may help an architectural and design firm earn LEED credits. Manufacturers are now developing digitally printable wallcoverings, for example, with enhanced print performance that’s specifically certified for mold and mildew resistance, low fume emissions and fire retardancy, to name a few. Translating printer, ink and substrate attributes to environmental certifications are opportunities to marry the needs and languages of both designers and printers.

Rachel Nunziata

Market Development 
S-One Holdings Corporation | 

1605 Main Street - Suite 503, Sarasota, FL 34236, USA

T: 941-906-3144

What are more ways these two languages can work together? Email Rachel your thoughts !