Dig­i­tal De­signs

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - Text: Kayla Cloete Images © Art­lab

Any­one who has spent time trans­form­ing a house into a home will un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion of many a wasted hour spent search­ing the racks of in­te­rior de­sign stores and scrolling through images on their on­line por­tals in the hopes of find­ing that per­fect item. Times are chang­ing though, and strug­gles like th­ese might soon be a thing of the past – thanks to Art­lab, a cre­ative dig­i­tal print­ing com­pany based in Cape Town.

Art­lab was es­tab­lished in 2007 by Craig Whyte, a dig­i­tal en­tre­pre­neur who has spent al­most three decades pi­o­neer­ing a num­ber of dig­i­tal print­ing tech­nolo­gies in South Africa – from South Africa’s first dig­i­tal print bureau in 1983 to the first high res­o­lu­tion large for­mat print com­pany in 1994.

Today, Whyte runs the cut­ting-edge large-for­mat dig­i­tal print­ing com­pany Art­lab, which brings to­gether decades of ex­pe­ri­ence and the lat­est print tech­nolo­gies to cater for an ex­cit­ing new of­fer­ing in high­end decor ap­pli­ca­tions.

Art­lab is able to print prac­ti­cally any­thing on just about any sur­face to vir­tu­ally any size you de­sire which has opened up a whole new way of go­ing about in­te­rior de­sign.

There is a new term that has been coined in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets to de­scribe this new trend: “Prin­te­ri­ors”. A port­man­teau of the phrase “printed in­te­ri­ors”, Prin­te­ri­ors refers

to ev­ery­thing from cus­tom wall­pa­pers and mu­rals, dig­i­tally printed tex­tiles, and wall art, to print­ing on wood, metal, ce­ramic tiles, glass, Per­spex, and just about any­thing else.

“Glob­ally, de­sign­ers are tak­ing the Prin­te­rior trend to main­stream use by lever­ag­ing the ad­vances in dig­i­tal tex­tile and other new print tech­nolo­gies to cre­ate be­spoke fur­ni­ture, cush­ions, wall cov­er­ings, floor­ing, drapes, ta­ble tops, and even win­dows, all on-de­mand and with no min­i­mum me­ter­age.

“With this tech­nol­ogy now on our shores, we ex­pect to see the lo­cal de­sign com­mu­nity ex­per­i­ment with the Prin­te­ri­ors con­cept to cre­ate the most strik­ing and unique de­signs,” Whyte says.

One need only step into the Art­lab store in Wood­stock, Cape Town, to see the host of pos­si­bil­i­ties that ex­ist for any in­te­rior de­sign project. The store is filled with all sorts of printed de­signs on ev­ery­thing from cus­tom printed tex­tiles and daz­zling wall-cov­er­ings to prints on wood, Per­spex, glass, and floors cov­ered in strik­ing graphic prints – the in­spi­ra­tions are well worth a visit.

Bring­ing South Africa cus­tom dig­i­tal tex­tile print­ing is one of Art­lab’s proud­est achieve­ments. Glob­ally dig­i­tal print­ing onto fab­ric is the very lat­est thing. Dig­i­tal tex­tile print­ing now of­fers com­plete cre­ative free­dom with photo-qual­ity and end­less colour ranges which can be quickly and cost ef­fec­tively printed on de­mand onto a wide ar­ray of nat­u­ral and syn­thetic fab­rics. It is fast, cre­ative, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, and with no min­i­mums it means it is avail­able for even the small­est de­sign job.

“Apart from the new thing of cus­tom dig­i­tal tex­tile print­ing, Art­lab also spe­cialises in be­spoke wall­cov­er­ings. Gone are the old days of past­ing messy strips of generic prints. Wall­cov­er­ings such as the unique tex­tile based Air­tex from Ger­many are now printed in full wall widths, mean­ing en­tire walls are ap­plied in just one piece. No joins, just ex­cep­tional graph­ics that are both easy to in­stall and re­move with an in­cred­i­ble high qual­ity look and feel. It is most cer­tainly the wall cov­er­ing choice of the fu­ture,” Whyte ex­plains.

How­ever, Prin­te­ri­ors are not just re­served for large users or those who wish to fill en­tire walls or un­der­take large de­sign schemes. The ben­e­fits of dig­i­tal print­ing is that there are no min­i­mums, and Art­lab caters for all in­stal­la­tions from ho­tel groups and re­tail chains to the small­est do­mes­tic user. And be­cause it is all dig­i­tal, there are min­i­mal turnaround times.

Another unique at­trac­tion at Art­lab is its Cruse High Res­o­lu­tion Large For­mat Scan­ner. The only one in South Africa, this amaz­ing scan­ner is used by in­sti­tu­tions like NASA and the Vat­i­can to scan at sim­ply in­cred­i­ble res­o­lu­tions. With a scan def­i­ni­tion of 1.5 bil­lion pix­els, the Cruse al­lows Art­lab to scan tex­tures and other large orig­i­nals like never seen be­fore. Ter­rific for cre­at­ing wood ef­fects, even mar­ble blocks weigh­ing over 250 kg have been scanned on the Cruse to cre­ate be­spoke tex­tures for ho­tel wall­cov­er­ings.

Wait­ing time varies from project to project and de­pends on how busy the lab is at the time, but the fin­ished project is usu­ally ready within a mat­ter of days, not months.

Thanks to com­pa­nies like Art­lab, there re­ally is no rea­son why you can­not have your in­te­ri­ors ex­actly the way you en­vi­sion them.

Whyte con­cludes: “With the new tech en­abling print­ing on al­most any kind of ma­te­rial, de­sign­ers are lim­ited only by their imag­i­na­tion.”

Art­lab has been ap­proached by a num­ber of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional par­ties in­ter­ested in fran­chis­ing its unique con­cept, and the good news is that this will soon be on of­fer. In­ter­ested par­ties can con­tact Craig Whyte on +27 21 448 1421, and visit www.art­lab.co.za for more in­for­ma­tion.

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