We’re nearly a quarter way through the year and it has flown by. With the days getting longer and blue skies peeping through, this is a perfect time to introduce March’s Member of the Month, Lincrusta. Design Insider had a lovely conversation with Alison Keane, Head of Marketing and Sales at Lincrusta, about how their wallcoverings, still manufactured in the UK are sustainable by nature, the inspiration behind their designs and what we can expect from Lincrusta in 2022.
Please can you introduce us to Lincrusta and your role within the company?
Lincrusta is a unique sculptural wallcovering that offers a blank canvas for the interior designer to create bespoke interiors. The range comprises wallcoverings, dado panels, friezes and borders and is globally available.
First manufactured in 1877, Lincrusta was the ingenious invention of Frederick Walton, who had pioneered the development of linoleum floor coverings during the 1860s. Heralded as the first washable wallcovering, Lincrusta was an instant success, appealing to Victorian England’s tastes because of its beauty, practicality, and durability. Lincrusta designs quickly found their way into notable buildings throughout the world such as the White House and the Titanic.
What many people don’t realise is that it is a natural product, made from linseed oil and is still manufactured here in the UK today. The unrivalled depth of these embossed wallcoverings allows them to be decorated using a variety of different paint effects and colour combinations – meaning that each project is truly unique.
I joined the company in the second half of last year as Head of Marketing and Sales. I am delighted to be part of a small but passionate team committed to helping our clients make a lasting impression.
Can you tell us about your manufacturing process?
Our team of skilled craftsmen, based in our factory in Lancashire still use the same time-honoured traditions and attention to detail as in Frederick’s day. We are proud to wave the ‘Made in Britain’ flag. The recipe has hardly changed since then other than a slight adaption to ensure our fire rating for commercial standards.
The signature emboss is created using exquisitely engraved steel rollers. There is quality control at every stage, but with a process that has been perfected over years there is very little waste and what there is goes to Waste for Electricity. We are FSC accredited. (Forest Stewardship Council).
We pride ourselves on the fact that every design is in stock, whilst maintaining the flexibility to insert a special run if needed for larger projects.
What else is Lincrusta doing in terms of sustainability?
We have ambitions to be Carbon Neutral by 2030, but are still at the early stages of documenting our sustainable policy. Sustainability is not just about how environmentally conscious our manufacturing processes are, we are looking at how we can make improvements at every aspect of our business.
As well as being a natural product, Lincrusta has sustainable qualities in that it can be re-used, repaired and re-imagined. This is a product to cherish that becomes part of the fabric of the building. The beauty is that whenever it is time to transform a space, you can change the colour or indeed create a whole new ambiance by adding different paint effects, that reflect the light if a different way.
In the restoration of period properties only the original will do. With over 140 years’ history, not all Lincrusta designs are still available (over 1500 rollers were melted for the war effort for example). So, the company has developed restoration kits to provide a solution. Trained restorers take an impression of the original design that needs repair to replicate it in other areas with a seamless finish.
As a product that relies on the collaboration of skilled painters and decorators, we are committed to training the next generation. Our Production and Technical Manager, Andy Sarson runs training courses at technical colleges around the UK and abroad. We aslo run CPD courses for interior designers through the BCFA program.
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
The patterns within the collection take inspiration from a variety of sources: from the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, and key periods in history taking in Renaissance, Jacobean through to Edwardian, to cutting edge contemporary influences and the beauty of nature.
Our fabulous archive provides inspiration for new designs, such as Fanfare with its Art Deco flair. Newer additions such as Palm, and Tropical Leaf capture the current desire to bring the outside inside.
How does Lincrusta work with designers on their projects?
Our showroom in Design Centre Chelsea Harbour presents all designs in larger format, in a variety of colours and paint techniques. As well as samples we have an architect’s folder for designer’s own libraries.
We can create painted samples in line with the designer’s specification. However, as the paint mark/effect is personal to the actual decorator, we would always advise that the sample be painted by the craftsman that will carry out the work. We can provide nude samples for that purpose. These can also be ordered online.
In our showroom we also carry colour cards of all of the quality purveyors of paint to help with the selection of colour.
If a designer provides us with full dimensions, we can calculate exact quantity for best effect and to avoid wastage.
We have a training program for installers and restorers, so have a list of recommended decorators across the country and internationally.
In what ways have you seen your wallcoverings and designs used in interiors?
Not only the reserve of walls, Lincrusta can enhance a myriad of surfaces including ceilings, doors, bars and looks fabulous on a curved wall. Its durable nature makes it perfect for hospitality interiors. Our wallcoverings grace the walls of many a splendid commercial interior from hotels, bars and restaurants, to luxury boutiques, nightclubs, swimming pools and spas.
From a restoration point of view, we were delighted to be recently involved in the restoration of a wallcovering discovered in the cabin of intrepid explorer Ernest Shackleton on his final voyager the QUEST.
We also love seeing Lincrusta on the silver screen, it is a popular choice for period dramas and Hollywood movies.
What’s next for Lincrusta?
2022 has got off to a great start as we welcome the re-opening up of hospitality with some exciting projects coming to fruition.
For the month of March we have lots of exciting activities for London Design Week and Paris Deco Home. We are renowned for our classic look, the creation of atmospheric interiors through detailed paint effects, so for Spring ‘22 we wanted to show another side of this versatile product. At Lincrusta we often talk about being a blank canvas, so for Paris Deco Home (Originally planned for January), we are collaborating with multi-media artist Jan Erika design to create an immersive piece of abstract art – a wonderful expression of the trend for ‘collage-assemblage’. Find us: 25 rue de l’Echaude, Paris 70006 – 23rd to 27th March.
Having recently discovered that Frederick Walton (who lived in France in later years, and was a neighbour of Picasso) was also a talented landscape artist, we thought it would be fun to recreate one of his paintings as a Mural, painted onto a Lincrusta textural canvas. Look out for that in the TALK theatre at DCCH, LDW22. As well as an update to our colour block wall with this season’s most compelling hues.
From a product perspective we are working on new designs for launch later in the year, which will have a more contemporary direction.
We also have exciting R&D projects in the longer-term pipeline. Watch this space…..
Contact Lincrusta through BCFA Product Finder.
The BCFA Product Finder is a unique search engine created especially for interior designers to source contract furnishing companies. Utilising this platform will support your findings for upcoming projects, with over 200 members profiles showcasing the latest product launches, new materials available, industry news and design trends.