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.