Some things simply never go out of vogue; others aren’t so lucky (e.g. the Robin Reliant, which has never, ever to returned to its 'glory' days). However some things that we never thought would (or should) rise again, do - and go so far as to be heralded the latest trend (again). And no, we’re not referring to the constant resurgence of flares or dungarees in the fashion world here (though they’re definitely on the ‘should’ list) but rather a rise from the ashes of the 60s/70s of Flock Wallpaper.
Love it or hate it, it’s back! Yet the company responsible for this revival, The Surface Print Company, is in no way a business stuck in the past. They are way ahead of the game and the leading innovators of new and contemporary wallcoverings. Better still, their unique range that also includes Digital and Holographic Foils, are all made exclusively in Britain.
The Surface Print Company provide high-quality, bespoke wallcoverings to a client base consisting of high-end companies. The company was established in 1990 and has since had 2 generations of family involved in the business.
Abigail Watson, Sales Director and daughter of Chairman and founder John Watson, says, “Our clients often present challenging designs and requirements. By working closely with them and continually working on new technical innovations and print processes we can really push the boundaries in what we produce. Along with a recognised reputation for quality, we feel this combination is the basis of our success.”
The mix of traditional and modern printing technology reflects the myriad of inspiring styles and designs the clients demand. Many wallpaper types are printed on Surface and Sur-Flex machines, creating a beautiful hand-painted effect. Holographic wallpaper is printed on a foil substrate, and new innovations introduced in recent months, include flock and beads on to foil to create even more stunning 3D effects. And Flock paper, back by popular demand by some clients, is produced on a state-of-the-art, custom built machine which is the only one of its kind in the world.
As some of the print processes for the wallpaper are quite complex, bulk or minimum roll orders are needed. However since December 2013 The Surface Print Company invested in digital print technology, specifically the HP Latex 3000. In addition to the positive environmental aspects that Latex printing offers and which sits perfectly within the company’s eco-policies and Chain of Custody system, digital printing increases order flexibility; smaller runs, faster lead times, wider widths and more colours. In fact, the endless design possibilities are restricted now only by the clients’ imagination.
The speed of digital printing has made things much easier in the order process as everything is pre-production approved. The further investment of the HP LX360 machine as a ‘sample’ machine has proved so successful that an upgrade is already in the plans for later this year.
Abigail explains, “Although the HP printer will not replace the technology that produces Flock for example, it has opened up a new client-base for us that we previously couldn’t reach with the traditional technologies.“
Getting the fine balance of new and old technology right has enabled The Surface Print Company to move and grow with their clients’ demands whilst still keeping the traditional methods of wallpaper production very much alive. Over the last 25 years they have been able to hand-pick expert, skilled craftspeople from the area, which is also known as the heart of the industry, and pass these skills, such as colour-mixing by hand, down the generations through customised apprenticeship schemes and training programs.
With an established reputation built on quality they have attracted some of the most prestigious names in the design and interior décor world. Exporting to many countries including USA and India for high-end clientele such as Liberty’s, Ralph Lauren and Cath Kidston.
British manufacturers have had untold pressures piled upon them since the recession and amidst recent market and currency uncertainties. Yet with true ‘hold fast, keep calm’ British spirit, the Surface Print Company by being innovators, creators and sometimes revivalists, have survived, developed and, best of all, flourished.