In recent years the opportunities for signmakers have rapidly increased, with new technologies and substrates enabling practices that had been difficult, costly and time consuming with traditional methods. Today we stand at a crossroads where the traditional printer and signmaker can make a choice – to transform the business and boost profitability with a change of mindset, or to continue with a limited digital offering alongside traditional methods but without fully maximising the opportunities available.
By Giorgio Volpi – Interior decoration Product Manager
What is this trend that is taking over? Interior decoration, or décor, through the clever use of decorative materials from the likes of 3M, which enable redecoration at a fraction of the price of a traditional refurbishment by renewing what is already in existence. Combined with other digitally printed products such as wallcoverings, furniture and decorative items, a complete transformation can take place quickly and affordably.
These days, the traditional signmaker is part of a chain that includes architects and interior designers, as well as the material manufacturers. To take advantage of this opportunity, the signmaker must grasp the capabilities that new technologies and techniques can offer and sell these in to the end customer, with the help of the manufacturer. Today’s graphics professional should understand the scope of interior décor and be able to talk fluently about the many, varied options for retailers, leisure facilities, shops and corporate businesses – all prospective clients for decorative services.
With deep heritage in visual communications, Spandex can offer guidance and assistance to signmakers to help promote these flexible, affordable and environmentally friendly solutions.
We have always worked closely with our customers to generate ideas and provide the necessary knowledge to make the most of their business. Having anticipated increasing interest in interior décor, we are one step ahead of the market, and have been actively educating our customers through a hands-on technical training programme. It’s fair to say that there are many end users and printers alike who, in the beginning, don’t believe that a radical decorative refit is possible just using materials and printing techniques, but they’re easily proved wrong.
The advantages compared with traditional refurbishment and redecoration techniques are clear. For example, a retail or hospitality space can be transformed through the use of laminates, films and other industrial materials alongside other digitally printed features, at a fraction of the cost and with minimal disruption to opening hours. Using materials, the refit can be accomplished cleanly and quickly, with limited disturbance to maximise business uptime.
This is a huge benefit for the retailer or restaurateur, minimising lost revenue from having to close the premises. When you look at an interior space with a fresh pair of eyes, it is made up of many surfaces which can be ‘reskinned’ with these materials and enhanced with digitally printed furniture and textiles, wall coverings, and other decorative pieces.
For example, Spandex is a distributor of a self-adhesive laminate called Di-Noc from 3M. The range offers a choice of approximately 750 different architectural finishes which look like natural products, and there is also a range of glass finishes called Fasara. It is possible to completely refurbish a retail space, bar area, hotel reception or restaurant using materials such as these alone, for as little as one eighth of the cost of a full refurbishment. By creating awareness of the possibilities that using materials and substrates will bring, and with savings like this, it also makes it possible for the client to achieve a fresh look and feel every few years, if they choose, keeping their premises up to date and maximising interest and footfall. Another distinct advantage is the reduced environmental impact compared with a full refit, as with no fixtures being stripped out, there is no landfill factor.
A product such as Di-Noc has a 12-year guarantee for indoor applications, and will withstand wear-and-tear in any environment. It can be used to freshen up walls, furniture, even window frames and illuminated signs. As well as being used for decorative purposes, materials are available which provide sun control, or to create anti-slip surfaces to address health and safety concerns.
For a signmaker who is brave enough to change their mindset, and to influence potential customers, there is the scope to open up new markets, becoming more profitable with no additional hardware investment. What is more, expertise in décor enables the customer to operate in a high-value sector with less competition and pricing pressure than might be encountered for commodity signage and graphics work. By working with a company like Spandex to access specialist materials and application know-how, and to understand the brands and their offerings, a graphics producer can get the most out of the available materials, and pass this knowledge on to customers, transforming their environments, and his business.