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The Filament: Kathryn Sanders

The Never-Ending Print Cycle: A New Mantra for Interior Décor Printers

Prints can be permanent fixtures across different markets – it just takes a little advocacy.

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IN THE FASHION WORLD, it’s all about seasons and trends. There’s a big build-up, then a collection is revealed, and if we (the print industry) are lucky, three to six prints with two to three colorways are included in the showcase. That’s become the standard recipe, and we see the format mirrored in other creative marketplaces, like interior design, too.

Ever stop to think why that is? Is it really that we like solids more? You’re probably already putting two and two together and realizing that it comes down to the limitations of analog textile printing (we’re talking rotary printers and flatbeds). Prints have been regarded – understandably – as a risk. The big question, albeit a simple one, is: Will it resonate? Getting screens engraved is costly and production minimums, even for samples, can be incredibly high. This is one of the most significant advantages of digital printing.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. The technology is here to support print-heavy collections, yet the recipe hasn’t changed much. We’re still primarily seeing solids with a few choice prints sprinkled in. It’s arguably the flair. When talking with textile thought leaders and designers, most point to the 1980s as the print cycle. It was the time of prints on prints, and nothing was off-limits. Oddly enough, it seems to be categorized by many as a one-time phenomenon.

There’s an idea – or a mantra – that’s been ruminating in my head for a while now: the never-ending print cycle.

The idea of the never-ending print cycle is accessible, ripe to experiment with, and just so happens to be on trend. (Notably, matching two-piece print suits are captivating consumers, can’t stay stocked, and are hitting equally in women’s, men’s, and unisex markets.) It’s an idea that we, as an industry, should all be championing. It means more diverse and unique designs more frequently – not to mention, more money in your pocket.

The never-ending print cycle is also something that we can drive. We can push creativity, make it less intimidating, and create a new recipe for brands that doesn’t come with risk. Rather, it’s chock-full of imagination and innovation. It’s futurism. When I’m designing prints at my studio for interior environments, I know that I’m not just tasked with creating something beautiful or interesting. I’m also energized by the challenge of helping consumers get comfortable with prints, especially in new physical places. When I reference a printed sofa, for example, most people immediately flash to an image of Grandma’s 1970s floral sofa. Maybe they dig the retro vibe or maybe they find it antiquated. It’s our job to put the modern and sophisticated twist on it. We get to reinvent where prints live in the home – and we have the same opportunity with apparel.

The accessory no longer must be the accent piece. The wall art no longer must be the vibrant focal point of the room. We’ve got a lot more real estate to conquer, and our digital printers are the tech for the job.

The way I look at it, we have the opportunity to create more beauty in the world. It doesn’t have to be visually overwhelming; don’t forget, prints can be subtle and delicate, too. Most of all, it doesn’t have to be a trend. Prints can be a permanent fixture across mediums and markets. Best of all, it can all come out of your shop.

Kathryn Sanders is the founder & CEO of Western Sensibility, a digital textile printing studio on a mission to redefine interior spaces. She’s passionate about growing the digital printing community and launched Digital Bias Consulting to help newcomers get started. Connect with her at kathryn@digitalbiasconsulting.com

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