Wallpaper of the Future

1 April 2017 – 31 December 2018

MPP_PapiersPeintsDuFutur_Affiche-MDWall decoration is currently undergoing profound changes which could well revolutionise our whole way of living. The trend is towards ever greater personalisation: tomorrow’s living space will have to adapt to the needs and tastes of its occupants. The exhibition presents two types of product that have a bright future ahead: one is enhanced wallpaper and the other technological wallpaper. Both are challenging accepted notions about décor and design and about creating harmony between beauty and utility.
Whether it is produced as a hand-made limited edition or by machine using the latest innovations in robotics, wallpaper is no longer happy with flat images but is undergoing increasing enhancement by way of 3D designs and textures. Star designers devise patterns for major companies made with embroidered ribbons, resin micro-pearls or pieces of slate. Other papers are embellished with wooden contouring, basalt fibres, Swarovski crystals… Craftsmen blend digital and silk-screen printing, experiment with haute couture made from paper or test out metal oxides.
But wallpaper is not just designed to be beautiful, it can also come equipped with technical innovations to improve our everyday life. Acoustic, damp-proof, impermeable, magnetic, anti-WiFi, it can even be earthquake resistant preventing walls from collapsing after an earthquake! The term wallpaper, which the manufacturers still prefer, may be justified by the fact that it is produced on a roll or applied using adhesive, but whether these products use paper as a basis or not, they also contain many other elements such as spun fibreglass and optical fibres. Scientific research is carried out in specialised departments of companies and in research institutes specialising in paper or in innovative materials.
Whilst technological, these products do not lack aesthetic charm. Digital printing, which is now possible on most materials, further enhances them creating harmony between beauty and utility. Phosphorescent or luminous wallpaper creates a special atmosphere. Patterns using QR codes provide access to Japanese haikus or the complete works of Shakespeare. In the future, outdoor wallpaper will even cover the exteriors of buildings and become part of the urban scenery.
Some of the products shown in this exhibition have already reached the shops, others are still in development but they are not something out of science fiction: they are already on the market or will be in the next few years. And what does the future have in store? Will handmade, customised or recycled wallpaper make a big comeback? Or will our walls be part of an automated home, connected, smart and interactive? Changing colour at a touch, transforming to suit our mood, stimulating all our senses? We can always dream…

Direction: Isabelle Dubois-Brinkmann, Chief Curator of Cultural Heritage