Interprint Captures and Preserves the Beauty of
Bringing a new design to the decorative surfaces market is often a long road that may wind through continents and across centuries.
New image-capture and editing techniques, combined with incredible print fidelity and texture reproduction, are giving us the ability to dig into our past and rediscover resources that were once thought to be gone forever. We can bring them back to life, replicate them in incredible detail, and use in projects without worrying about scarcity, cost or durability.
Wood from old farm and factory buildings holds a special kind of fascination for modern designers and material enthusiasts. Aged, weathered, distressed, fatigued, however you want to describe it, something in the character this rugged, paint-scraped resource calls to us. Maybe it’s the patina of the face of a structural beam. Maybe it’s first-growth woodgrain structure beneath. Maybe it’s something in between.
Peter Garlington, head of design for the décor printer Interprint Inc., has a keen eye for these things. His experience exploring global design exhibitions and events helps him identify commonalities and movements in material tastes and trends. And his expertise in manipulating and treating found samples, and in capturing and editing their digital doppelgangers, helps him visualize the potential applications for the finished design.
As the story of a recent discovery, Tellason Pine, illustrates, it’s a process with many possibilities.
Material Intelligence: What is Tellason Pine?
Peter Garlington: The original came from reclaimed factory material. Back in the day many of the large support beams in industrial buildings were long-leaf pine, very strong, very dense. Today, companies that specialize in architectural salvage will process these beams into a variety of materials, most often flooring.
These beams can be well over 100 years old, and while the four faces of the beams show wear and patina the underlying material is as clean as fresh milled. With this sort of material, the paint faces are cut off as thin as possible to square up the beam and then the rest is processed into “new face” vintage flooring or lumber. The thin faces are discarded or sold as “jackets” to wrap new-built beams or architectural details to make them look old or reclaimed.
MI: How'd you discover it, and what made it interesting to you?
PG: We are constantly sourcing materials and have relationships with a diverse group of suppliers. We check in with them regularly; they’ll also call us when something interesting comes in. In this case, one of our suppliers had received a fresh set of beams and had orders for the “new face” material made from the beam’s core. They had taken the patina’d faces off and were planning to discard them.
The failed paint had a good look so we sorted through several hundred board feet to select a dozen and a half boards that felt like they were working well together. The age, patina, quality of surface, color and scale, all felt right.
MI: How are you working the boards before scanning them?
PG: Once the boards are in the studio the first step is to edit them down. The originals are often 10-14 feet long, and as our cylinders are closer to 54 inches in circumference the boards get cut closer to size. This makes it easier down the line to join the boards digitally in the reprographics process.
For flooring designs we like at least 12 to 14 boards for a set. From there the surface and finish are evaluated, loose paint is wire brushed, and the boards are lightly cleaned and or sanded depending on the material and the desired final look.
MI: What characteristics are you trying to bring out in scanning and editing?
PG: This is evaluated set by set, and different every time we start the process. With Tellason Pine, the surface and texture of the paint were what we were after.
MI: Where do you see it being used?
PG: When we are sourcing materials we usually have several things in mind: relevance to what we are seeing and interpret as “trend,” any open requests from our customers, and the general interest and usability of the material.
With Tellason it was the uniqueness of the sample that made it worthwhile. As for where it might be used – retail, hospitality, residential – that comes later. With a sourced material like this we sometimes use it as-is. Sometimes we end up blending it digitally with other materials or surfaces to make something unique, something that can only exist as a printed décor. With the Tellason we’ll do a flooring look first and then work on an all-over design for potential in architectural and furniture panels.
MI: Are you editing for distinctive characteristics depending on the application - flooring vs. cabinetry, etc.?
PG: Yes. We will often produce multiple versions of layouts and review, edit and refine. It’s at this point, when we have a feel for the material and have been working with it for a while, that we will also start to think about how it may work in combination with other materials, or how we see it coloring and where we would want the contrast to be.
MI: What kind of background and skills do you bring to this kind of work?
PG: My deep background is heaviest on the science side, then fine art and finally industrial design emphasizing furniture. In my studio I am process-focused and very geeky about it. We’re not limited to wood alone. We create designs from metal, wood, stone, plasters, resin, concrete, ink and paper, paint, and just about anything else we can get our hands on.
While a historic understanding of finish and finish process is good to have, it’s the skills of an artist and visual designer, innovation, process, critique, willingness to fail and take risks that drive what’s happening here, not the formulaic adherence to tradition.
Discovering Tellason Pine's Inner Beauty
Interprint works with a network of suppliers who specialize in structural wood recovered from demolished and deconstructed structures. When a specimen with potential is discovered, the company's design team, led by Peter Garlington, sets to work finding and defining its essential beauty before scanning and editing it for different possible applications – furniture, flooring, cabinetry, walls, etc.
Peter Garlington chooses boards for further treatment.
Capturing color and textures with a Metis Superscan PM3D.
Revealing the Beauty
Carefully working the planks for character.
Scanned images are reviewed and edited into designs for specific markets.
Interprint creates and prints designs for decorative panels and flooring. Founded in Germany in 1969, the company has production in Germany, Brazil, China, Malaysia, Poland, Russia and the U.S. The company employs more than 1,300 people and produces 1.8 billion square meters (over 19 billion square feet) of printed décor for furniture, flooring and interiors every year.