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UK printers scooped the top awards in Interior and Textile categories at this year’s FESPA Digital Print Awards, as well as taking second place in the Vehicle Category and receiving a further commendation in the Textile Category.

The competition was open to printers from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and attracted more than 200 entries, which were evaluated by an independent jury. The winners were announced on the eve of the FESPA Digital 2009 exhibition (12 -14th May 2009) in Amsterdam. One winner and one runner-up were selected for each of the six categories, and an additional 11 entries were commended by the jury.

Derbyshire-based Bonar Floors (now trading as Forbo Flooring Systems*), was singled out in the Textile Category for its innovative floor solutions, created for Milan-based architectural practice Sottsass Associati. The Sottsass Collection project involved producing a range of original designs using Bonar Floors’ flocked flooring - a unique, velvety, minimalist textile floor cladding. The company overcame a number of obstacles, which included adapting the Reggiani Giano machine to meet the requirements needed to create the innovative flooring solution. The two-millimeter-long flock had to be dyed and fixed to its roots, so the design team and colourist research technicians worked with the Reggiani machine experts for 18 months to achieve the desired results. Finally, the machine needed a specially acclimatised chamber, which meant that the entire facility was moved from one part of the factory to another to achieve the optimum operating environment.

Southeast England’s VCG Colourlink triumphed in the Interior Category, beating the competition with its Birmingham Post: Fort Dunlop project for interior architectural practice MMoser Associates and their client BPM Media. VCG Colourlink worked closely with the MMoser Associates’ creative team to develop high impact graphics across a wide range of substrates to radically redesign the client’s open-plan office creating artwork for the walls using a combination of historical, contemporary and abstract images. The key challenge was delivering colour consistency with diverse printed materials, ensuring these complemented the surrounding furniture and fittings, clearly defining the workspace into specific zones. As the client's business was newspaper publishing, a ‘newsprint dot’ theme was used for the images, which were printed onto VCG Colourlink’s trademarked Digital Wallpaper®, using the EFI VUTEk QS2000.

AST Signs Ltd from Manchester and Cumbria was runner-up in the Vehicle Category. Client Eddie Stobart wanted to achieve a new look for its vehicles with maximum visual impact. Printed using several Roland large format printers, the wraps needed to be cost-effective, had to last at least three years and, for the first time, the bumpers also had to be wrapped. The sheer size of the fleet - 1,500 44-tonne articulated units and 2,600 trailers - presented major challenges. Due to time constraints, the company was not able to remove the normal vehicle accessories prior to wrapping, which meant extra care needed to be taken to ensure high quality fitting. The AST Signs Ltd design team had to be very creative to ensure that the fleet's image looked consistent throughout.

The UK’s Glasgow School of Art received a commendation for its Textile Category entry Mackintosh Re-interpreted for client Hunterian Art Gallery/The Monument Trust/GSA. Using the Stork Sapphire/Mimaki TX2, the Glasgow School of Art set out to replicate Mackintosh’s original designs using contemporary processes and substrates to reproduce the aesthetic quality of the originals. Selected archive pieces were carefully studied, colour managed and handled to ensure that initial printouts matched originals. Mackintosh’s designs then had to be re-interpreted by completing unfinished tiles, extracting motifs and colour elements to make up the final 18 x 3 metre repeat lengths of the vertical textile hangings.

Commenting on the UK printers’ success, Nigel Steffens, FESPA CEO, said: “We are extremely pleased with the response that we’ve had from UK printers at this year’s FESPA Digital Print Awards. Overall, the UK had the second highest number of entries and took home the highest number of wins. Last year’s Awards saw UK printers receive five commendations overall, so it’s great to see them raise their game in terms of the quality of their work and creative solutions that they provide their customers. We look forward to seeing this trend continue at the next FESPA Digital Print Awards.”