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Beyond Décor: Rachel Nunziata

3 Influential Women Who Advance the Art of Digital Printing

Four-year columnist identifies those who’ve helped spread awareness of digital print.

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IF I COULD WRITE a letter giving advice to my younger self, it would say, “Don’t be afraid to speak up, be open to new paths, and the print industry needs more women.” Truth be told, I had no idea our industry existed until I stumbled upon it. I’ve referenced this in past columns: I never expected to end up in the print world, let alone develop an obsession for digitally printed décor. I’ve even tried to veer off in new directions, but it never works. Alas, here I am.

Over the past four years writing this column, I’ve learned about and connected with some awesomely talented women. Women who have found success one way or another by leveraging digital print technology. From industrial surface and textile print designers, a global ecommerce founder, to a 2012 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur named by Fortune, I’ve seen the creativity and hustle by women; some who are moms to more than one!

Inspired by the 2021 Women in Wide Format Awards, I’m sharing my three favorite and most influential women featured in Beyond Décor.

1. Umaimah Mendhro, founder and CEO of Vida, a visionary global platform for creatives and manufacturers with a mission for social change led to infusing digital print technology at its core. Not only is Mendhro’s company Google Ventures-backed, which is pretty cool on its own, but she’s created a network of makers and manufacturers around the world using digital printing for her zero waste, zero inventory concept. Purchases support Vida literacy, financial, and other educational programs to better the future of factory workers in Pakistan, India, China, and Turkey. Recently, Vida has added new digitally printed products in both apparel and home goods categories: eco sweatshirts, foldable totes, and wood wall art to name a few.

2. Annemie Van de CasteelE’s Belgium-based independent surface design studio was my first introduction to the concept of surface design. The meaning is in the name, surface design, but let’s expand on this if you aren’t familiar. Casteele creates wide-format scans, layouts, and color separations (or colorways) of digital print content often replicating wood, stone, and other natural elements. For every décor product produced by analog or digital print methods, a surface designer is required to create the actual design content. Casteele’s ability to blend a myriad of by-hand artisan techniques, which are digitized to further manipulate until perfect, impressed me the most. As a PSP, your bread-and-butter is printing substrates with some prepress file work, however, a surface designer like Casteele provides true bespoke print files for flooring, wallcovering, furniture surfaces, or canvas wall art. Visit annemievandecasteele.com to inquire or simply to see her stunning work.

3. Christiane Lemieux, founder and CEO of The Inside (among a plethora of other accomplishments such as founding DwellStudio, then selling to Wayfair, followed by joining Wayfair’s board as creative director) tops the charts with her most recent disruptive endeavor. Talk about true print-on-demand, The Inside delivers custom furniture on a three-week lead time. Lemieux solved a common dilemma for the consumer: lack of custom offerings and accessibility to a design-first platform. By partnering with a manufacturer outside Chicago and implementing 3D modeling technology, a first in the realm of traditional furniture manufacturing, The Inside delivers curated capsule collections with designers, iconic patterns from the most sought-after fabric and design houses like CW Stockwell and Scalamandré, and offers customers a wide range of colors, textures, and fabrics to “own the design process.” Most recently, The Inside now offers fabric by the yard and digitally printed wallcovering.

As we continue to rally for PSPs to diversify their offerings, let’s do the same for our industry. Bringing awareness of digital print to others, including women, expands the talent pool for true market disruption.

Rachel Nunziata is a digital print business and market development specialist with an undeniable enthusiasm for interior and home décor segments. She is a graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida, and has a knack for enabling synergies between artists, interior designers, and industry experts. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter @RachelNunziata.

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