April 2, 2018 | Rachel Nunziata - Publication in Big Picture Magazine "Innovations in interiors" 

COLLABORATION IS KEY

I recently spoke with Belgian designer Annemie Van de Casteele about her surface design studio and learned about the level of collaboration necessary in her discipline – an important piece of the décor puzzle. As a surface designer, Annemie’s role brings a unique set of technical design skills and the ability to develop in collaboration with clients. The wide range of customers she serves is equally, if not more impressive than where her final designs live.

She creates wide-format scans, layouts, and color separations (or colorways) of digital print content, often replicating wood, stone and other natural elements. Her specialties include digitally printed flooring, such as carpet via roll or flatbed printing, LVT (luxury vinyl tile), roll-printed PVC foil laminated and cut into any shape, vinyl or paper wallcoverings, panels, furniture surfaces, and flexible substrates like fabric or canvas wall art. Clients include manufacturers, printers (digital or cylinder), engravers, design studios, architects, interior designers, and decorators – by demand only. Each design project is made exclusively per client, from scratch – the true definition of bespoke.

When asked about initial materials, Annemie says, “It can by a creation from scratch or perhaps buying a material and reworking it, sometimes just using material as is”. I must admit, at first I assumed the role of a surface designer sprung from a sketchpad or vector files in Adobe Illustrator, but, as I learned with Annemie, that’s not always the case. A project scan can be made in studio and, just like art, it’s painted, distressed, and given structure, then digitized into a layout, color separations and colorwork. Print setups differ as well. “Some digital printers do not use color separations – in that case they are limited in creating new colorways”. Not an easy feat for developing digital print content.

Although her job appears to end after delivering the RGB or CMYK design files, in many cases, it doesn’t. “I also assist the customer in making the colorways in their lab. (Digital or analog colorways.) I don’t leave before they are satisfied and we have the perfect color.” The collaboration continues onsite with the digital printer by giving corrections on color, balance, and contrast, then final approval to start production. All of this varies form roll media to direct-UV printing onto panels, mirrors, flooring, doors; most popular with architects in the hospitality sector.

While neither analog nor digital print methods are perfect due to costs and speed, Annemie says if you can develop a skill for collaboration, big things can happen. She encourage the print channel: “Make beautiful products together with your customer, instead of for your customer. Be the expert in technique because they are not. You have to help and be there to assist. With your expertise and their creativity, you can make the most beautiful, creative, inventive and exclusive products ever.”

About the future of digital print through collaboration, Annemie says, “Printers and design studios will have to develop an enormous amount of designs in the very near future. Interior designers and decorators will be able to print their own objects for the interiors they design.” The future is bright at her studio with plans in the upcoming year to compose a large inspiration book with pictures of personal and professional travels and interesting ideas. For now visit www.annemievandecasteele.com to see more of her work.

Thank you Rachel for this beautiful article !

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