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Beyond Décor: Rachel Nunziata

The Metaverse Is an Opportunity for Digital Textile Printers

The era of experiential décor is coming, and you should begin preparing for it now.




AS TRADESHOWS, CONFERENCES, and IRL events continue to heat up, so do brands and companies jumping on the Web 3.0 wagon in the digital world. Most likely, before you even had a chance to comprehend what the metaverse actually is (no shame; same here), some of the biggest names were developing virtual properties, NFTs connected to physical goods, and new ways of advertising in the metaverse through gamification, mostly to younger generations like Gen Z and Alpha. If your head isn’t spinning yet, be prepared as the lines between digital worlds and our physical reality are starting to blur, and it’s not slowing down.

Luxury brands like Gucci are quickly adopting meta-technologies aiming to appeal to younger consumers. Gucci is developing its own virtual real estate in The Sandbox, a decentralized platform within the metaverse. They recently made references of The Sandbox throughout an IRL Milan runway show where they also unveiled a Gucci-Adidas partnership, another powerhouse brand investing in the metaverse. Contrastly, Lowe’s is experimenting with Web 3.0 through its own metaverse platform, or hub, where consumers can download up to 500 product assets to help visualize interiors with furnishings and décor. While the big box retailer doesn’t want to miss out on the meta-momentum, they say, as of now, the metaverse is too much in its infancy for the company to commoditize.

The questions you’re probably asking yourself right now are “What are the implications of digital and physical realities merging and how will this affect my print business, especially wallcovering and interior décor? Will virtual experiences and NFTs be a threat?” Not at all. In fact, similarly to the Gucci-Adidas partnership, think about how digital experiences are opening new, collaborative opportunities for like-minded brands seeking to gain market share with younger generations. As a print service provider, you likely have the means and technology to create fully immersive and experiential events, pop-ups, and collabs that reflect digital in the physical for your clients. Dior’s visual merchandising director, Luca Albero, is pushing IRL boundaries through an immersive retail pop-up in Soho for Baby Christian Dior. Google it yourself and see the stunning underwater ocean-themed experiential designs full of bright pattern on pattern wallcovering, architectural wraps, and hundreds of suspended fish designed with colorful, gestural brush strokes. There’s a cool vintage VW bus wrapped in a coordinating Dior print even my Gen X husband would love! Now is the time to maximize your print capabilities as IRL and URL become juxtaposed experiences.

Another angle to consider is how lifestyle brands, sometimes digitally native D2C, are opening brick-and-mortar retail for the first time. Or, how content creators and influencers are developing their own product lines. Take Gwyneth Paltrow’s self-started wellness and lifestyle brand, Goop. Founded back in 2008 simply as a newsletter, Paltrow amassed enough subscribers to turn her project into a product-based company, with a cult following. Recently, Goop announced a new collaboration with its in-house apparel line G. Label and luxury wallpaper brand, Fromental, that includes a nature-inspired mural in various patterns and colorways with matching dresses. Yes, you read that right: wallcovering with matching dresses. (Take all my money!) Paltrow states in Architectural Digest: “We find inspiration for our G. Label collections in all things; from travel to art and nature and, in the case of our latest collaboration with Fromental, in gorgeous hand-painted wallcoverings. Our May collection of G. Label dresses take inspiration from the florals and motifs in our new Goop x Fromental wallcovering collaboration, which brings beauty, life, and a little wit into the rooms they fill.”

Admittedly, while I typically dedicate this column to report on opportunities in home décor and interior design from a traditional lens, with physical and digital worlds colliding and new marketing opportunities bubbling up, there are different angles and opportunities you can create. Promotional and marketing, pop-up events, capsule collections, and collaborations, just to name a few. Print opportunities in the interiors market is never stagnant – it’s moving and evolving – but the key to your success is identifying those opportunities and marketing your wide-format print capabilities in ways that appeal to these types of clients.

Think beyond the wall and into Web 3.0.

Think beyond the wall and into Web 3.0.




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