Within the design world one has the opportunity to start with a blank canvas. However, if you leave your canvas, so to say, too blank, there are always options for new, bold design trends that provide rich colours, surprising textures and new patterns that will blow you away.

“I think people are trying to be a little more creative with their space and have a little more fun with it,” says Erin Davis, showroom manager at EcoModern Design in the Boston Design Centre.

“Playing with the wall surface creates a more dynamic space.”

When there is something unexpected on the walls or even — the latest vogue — on the ceiling, Davis adds, the room achieves a more layered look that draws the eye around.
• Try a fashionable colour.
• Create an accent wall.
• Experiment with wall finishes.
• Consider a temporary treatment.
• Play with stencils.
• Make walls touchable.
• Get back to nature.
When one thinks of wall coverings, it encompasses anything that can be used to design and decorate walls, from wallpaper and paint up to the more creative materials such as plastics, cork or even grass.

When choosing a wall covering, it has to work well with the room’s function – take into account the interior vision, maintenance, installation and ability to change. When you are designing interiors, look at new, contemporary trends to create an innovative space.

“Considering the design of a specific project or space the term ‘trend’ is used very loosely as the major deciding factors dictating the design remains the context within which it functions, the client brief, the brand you are working with and design language of the space and it is within these parameters that you can define ‘trends’ that’s suitable but also create new ones as a response,” says Bianca Cameron, an Interior Architect from Earthworld Architects and Interiors.

She explains that paint still remains the most versatile option, as it doesn’t limit you to certain styles, and it allows you to work cost-effectively with great versatility.

“White walls is a big trend, the four walls around us become a blank canvas with gallery qualities on which to exhibit art or to deliberately distract attention from the walls to re-focus on the objects populating the space, the view etc.,” she adds.

She says, however, that interior cladding remains expensive because you are still adding to an existing structure, that’s the wall, but if you are looking to create a specific aesthetic for your project, some materials, such as cork cladding, are back “big time”. Cork cladding is made up of tiles that are matt and very flexible. A great example of a local use in South Africa is Vida e Café.

Getting back to the roots
These modern trends help with inspiration for the perfect wall covering to transform a space into an area that has a visual and often tactile accent.

One can experiment with new, fresh ideas, taking into consideration new contemporary technologies and materials to define modern interior design trends. Unusual wall coverings and returning to mankind’s roots with traditional materials re-appropriated for a contemporary environment will challenge interior trends.

“Wallpaper is endless at the moment – recycled materials can be used, you can print on them, emboss them, paint on them and create texture and visual interest adding to the atmosphere with a specific aesthetic to compliment the design and sit comfortably within its context,” says Cameron.

Give it life
When faced with décor and wall designs that are unappealing with dimensions that lack “pop”, one can consider the latest and greatest 3D Surface wall panel trends.

There are also artistic and extremely attractive wall panels with a wide range of organic fibres and designs that can be painted or altered in appearance. This provides a fantastic solution to spruce up walls that have been battered and bruised, or just add accent to a dull space.

There are great trends, from studded diamond panels shimmering along a quilted cover, weaved wall features to the 3D blooming flowers, that will provide a lacklustre décor into a striking part of the room that leaves one feeling the need to reach out and touch the delicate panels.

Giving light to new trends
Heimtex showcased a range of new wall covering collections last year, allowing for viewing pleasure with an eclectic mix of new trends.

There was a range of products, with a lot of blown vinyl collections from European manufacturers, including A+S’s Schoner Wohner, BN’s Brocante Grandeco’s Saphyr 3, P+S and Rasch.

The Italian Mills stuck to their familiar classic traditional style, producing heavyweight vinyl collections, which are produced with an in-line register print emboss technique that leaves an expensive and well-produced look and feel to the design. Regent by Zambiatti is a wonderful example of such a collection.

Chateau and Vision’s Satin and Silks are more lightweight with their silk classics range.

Create natural feature walls
For a more contemporary look, A+S’s Murano look provides great textures. The collection was launched in 2011, allowing for an industrialised cement slab effect, including natural stone walls and wood grains that look natural, unlike the kitsch-looking trends from the seventies, displaying realism in the finishes. This trend has become extremely popular, with more mills creating similar ranges, for example, Elements from B+N.

Rasch Glamour’s new collection provides a drapery effect, with register emboss, leaving a 3D touch on the wall.

Classic damark wall coverings are in full force with sophistication, such as the Italian Regent designs, with simpler designs with Broncante (B+N), Flock 3 (A+S) and the Vision collection Diva.

This isn’t so new, but is a growing trend across different design trends, mixed with ink, and when applied as a print, it creates a beautiful sparkle. The look lifts even more when applied with base ground. To be seen to great effect in Rasch’s Glamour, it is also seen in collections such as Saphyr 2 and Vymura’s Masquerade.

Linear geometrics
This trend is seen in many collections with flowing lines and definite spirograph appearances, which could be inspired by the IT environment. Examples are Caravaggio, Flock 3 and Frequency.

Many floral designs currently exist, but in a simplified design with silhouette flower looks, combined with flowing lines and stems to add symmetry. Examples can be seen in Resene Habitat 47538 and Vision’s Diva and Aurora. Looking further ahead, florals appear to be trending to a more detailed, almost photographic imagery.

The novelties trend is the first feature wall example that was ever designed, and is, once again, a rising trend. A first was Grandeco’s Metropolis, but also see A+S Boys and Girls collection, Rasch and A+S collections and Komar’s mural prints.

Other examples are collages of newspaper advertisements in black and white, and collages of old-fashioned tourist postcards, with calligraphic elements of addresses written on it, including stamp illustrations. These were the original novelty wallpapers used in the seventies, especially popular in the United States – now it’s very retro and nostalgic.

Animal skin
There was a time when this was a major trend, however, it has now passed. However, this hasn’t stopped collections with animal textures being produced, with Rasch’s new African Queen Collection, which is the sequel to Out of Africa. The collection composes an extraordinary list of animal skin simulated designs cleverly interpreted.

Toile de jouy
These designs depict a range of scenes from the 18th century rural settings. They are used mostly in the United States market, typically on textile, but London designs have many more examples, such as rural cottages, old horse brasses and more.

Going the natural fibre way

Transform a space with a wall of wood, paper, fabric, maps and more with the most interesting natural fibres.

Woven wall covers
When wanting to add a natural look to a room’s design, use grass cloth, which is a popular woven wall covering. However, wallpaper’s huge comeback means there are many natural material options, such as paper weave to linen, from raffia to sea grass.

Grass cloth creates a neutral look, but you do not need to use it throughout the entire space. It can be complimented with bright colours.

Wood for good modern design
Cameron says that architecturally, there is an international notion to re-appropriate traditional building materials to suit a contemporary environment”.

“Classic Architecture had a timeless appeal, partly due to the material palette. Wood is an example of such a material that today is re-appropriated in a contemporary manner and can be manipulated to suit a variety of functions and aesthetic languages.”

Another great product for interiors is mahogany tree-bark mosaics, which are also shavings from reclaimed timber.

As previously mentioned natural wood is vastly used in Interior Design due to its capability to be manipulated into a variety of different aesthetics, it can lend itself to hi-tech design, minimalism, rustic warmth, re-claimed, retro revival, to only name a few. Wood also works great when used in combination with steel, brass, natural stone and man-made hi-tech materials and creates a beautiful contrast.

Eco-friendly wall coverings

Wall panels are great for creating accent walls in any building. When compiled together, the tiles create beautiful patterns. They can also be painted to create a unique colour and style.

A good example of eco-friendly wall panels is from WallArt 3D, who makes their panels from fibrous residue of sugarcane. The fibres of crushed sugarcane stalks, remaining after raw sugar is extracted, is now the raw material, called bagasse, which forms the base of this easily installed eco-friendly product.

The raw material used for these 3D wall panels is 100% recycled, compostable and therefore 100% biodegradable.

The Eco3D Wall Panels as a total forms a repeating pattern, which plays with shadow and light. Pure plant pulp materialised is fibrous residue remaining after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice, in the same way as pulp tableware is used.

Other eco-friendly wall coverings include grass, moss, wood etc.

“You can definitely also use grass, which provides a specific eco-aesthetic.

The specific aesthetic won’t always be suitable for the design language and palette of for example a minimalist, hi-tech space. Context, design language and intend always dictates the relevant trends,” adds Cameron.

She says another wall cladding that has become a popular trend, is the use of coconut mosaics, to create a tactile and visually interesting wall feature with an exotic memory.

“They cut old coconut shells into tiles or polish it to create a design. What makes this such a wonderful natural product, is that it’s low-key, handmade and creates job opportunities. They cut the coconut shells into small squares, which creates a tactile look, brings warmth into the atmosphere and provides exotic, natural and eco-friendly aesthetics. The shells are obtained as a waste product from the production of coconut milk.”

Taking the look outside

Creating beautiful wall features aren’t limited to the interior – you can take them outside as well.

Outdoor canvas
One can create beautiful outdoor canvases with murals, such as these done by aboriginal artist Gabriella Possum, which brings colour and organic curves to the outdoor space.

Wooden watering system
A wooden wall sculpture does not only provide a visually-pleasing design, but it also creates efficiency when it also works as an irrigation system. For example, one can use recycled lumbar beams with a misting system to water the surrounding plants.

A red accent
A great way to create an outdoor sanctuary is by adding a bold, red accent wall along with a fountain as a focal point to create tranquillity.

Fiesta fiesta
Puerto Rican-inspired outdoor rooms create vibrant and colourful wall panels with a fun pop of fiesta.

Tiny yet bold
Walls can be decorated with clay-coloured, Mediterranean-inspired tiles. You can also use recycled glass and tiles that are made into mosaics for a bright, bold wall design.

Circular window
Asia gives a peek into the circular window that can be used in any building project, to provide a different look to the norm of a square or rectangular design.

Kaleidoscope wall
For some extra drama, use colourful outdoor PHLpavilion plexi panels to divide the space. The panels are custom-designed and create a flexible space.

Woven wall
Taking a different spin on walling, landscape artist Jamie Durie constructed The Nest using age-old weaving techniques and a mix of recycled timbers, metal and twigs.

Built-in water features
Built-in water features have the ability to create a beautiful accent to a wall, and with copper being the latest craze, one can use it along with stone elements for a contemporary look.

“When you look at cladding and adding features, you aren’t adding anything, because the wall is already there. It’s all about the aesthetics. It also adds to the psychological aspect of a building, as people identify with natural products. Reclaimed wood works better than glass and it creates a perception of eco-friendliness, which, in turn, also provides great publicity for the company, showcasing that it is serious about the conservation of nature,” Cameron concludes.

“By adding cladding materials or a surface finish to an existing wall one can alter the aesthetic and surface quality of the wall in order to communicate a specific design language and can add to the psychological aspect of a building, as people identify with certain products more than others.

Cladding should be designed in rapport with the wall as a secondary skin not just as a means to cover the existing. The type of materials used for both the exterior and interior can intern create or strengthen the public’s perception of a company’s ethos and brand and their attitude towards the environment,” Cameron concludes.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Earthworld Architects and Interiors, interior architect Bianca Cameron, www.miamiagallery.com, www.hgtv.com, www.mywallart.co.za, www.eco3dwalldecor.com, www.trendhunter.com, www.resene.com and www.elledecor.com for the information given to write this article.