Peek­ing be­hind the fac­tory walls


When it comes to wall­pa­per, a big prob­lem is peo­ple’s mem­o­ries of nana’s house.

The mod­ern prod­uct bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to the de­signs gran dec­o­rated with, but it can be tough to con­vince peo­ple to give it an­other chance, Piers Brad­dock says.

‘‘Most of us grew up sur­rounded by the stuff and don’t have the best mem­o­ries of it.’’

Brad­dock is a self-de­scribed ‘‘wall­pa­per junkie’’, for­tu­nate given his job as sales man­ager of the south­ern hemi­sphere’s only wall­pa­per fac­tory.

Perched above Porirua City, As­pir­ing Walls has been beau­ti­fy­ing New Zealand’s walls for over 50 years.

There were 400 work­ers in the busi­ness’ hey­day, but now about 40 em­ploy­ees keep the ma­chines rolling, Brad­dock said.

Wall­pa­per has been around since the 1700s when aris­toc­racy would com­mis­sion artists to paint their walls, of­ten com­pet­ing with the neigh­bours for the lat­est trends.

‘‘They were truly be­spoke walls in those days.’’

Wall­pa­per was the go-to thing un­til the late 1980s when the in­dus­try took a crash­ing dive, clos­ing the coun­try’s fac­to­ries.

Peo­ple had be­come cau­tious of putting too much per­son­al­ity into their home for fear of af­fect­ing the re­sale value and took to paint­ing the walls in plain, pale colours, Brad­dock said.

‘‘All of a sud­den it was wel­come to ‘half tea’ and ‘span­ish white’.’’

The days of brown and cream are well be­hind us and the As­pir­ing Walls’ show­room is fes­tooned with de­signs fea­tur­ing roses, vin­tage cars, tele­vi­sions and plants.

A few hur­dles in per­cep­tion re­mained and once peo­ple get over their ‘‘wall­pa­per mem­o­ries’’ they still think it’s hard to hang, Brad­dock said.

‘‘Putting con­tact on the kids school­books is about 800 times harder than putting up wall­pa­per.’’

Be­hind the op­u­lent show­room - where vis­i­tors can’t help but feel the walls - the fac­tory roars and rum­bles.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing man­ager Neil Mac­Don­ald knows the 8000 sqm space like the back of his hand and he’s happy to show it off.


Man­u­fac­tur­ing man­ager Neil Mac­Don­ald, left, and sales man­ager Piers Brad­dock at As­pir­ing Walls.

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