Designtex’s First Digitally Printed Products by Surface Imaging Studio

05.13.14 | By
Designtex’s First Digitally Printed Products by Surface Imaging Studio

Designtex is well-known in the design realm when it comes to textiles, wall coverings, and digitally printed materials that focus on reduced environmental impact and 2014 began with the company’s initial foray into the world of digitally printed products that were designed by the artists that make up Surface Imaging Studio, a new initiative. The Portland, Maine-based Surface Imaging Studio is a team of surface designers, artists, and imaging technology specialists who collaborate and work together towards a vision. When Designtex acquired Surface Imaging, the companies were able to join forces and bring their unique expertise to a wider audience with the ability to customize and create new designs with a new expanse of techniques and materials. The Premiere Collection of wall coverings merges large scale patterns and bold colors with the finesse of fine line work. Take a peek at how a custom project came together in this month’s Deconstruction.


Lobby Concept 2

Lobby Concept 1 and 2: Proposed designs for a new lobby project (same client, design direction, and creative team) carrying forward the branding concepts to the new site. Design options shown here — wall covering (Concept 1 – first image) or a printed film applied to a glass inset (Concept 2). [Photo by Shoshannah White and algorithm drawing by Tony Broyez]

We make our products on demand and tailored to a specific client’s needs. There are amazing design opportunities with this method of production. Our Surface Imaging Studio works collaboratively with architects, designers, artists, and clients to create beautiful products and spaces. We are located at the manufacturing facility so that we can tie together design and production processes.


We start out with a consultation, gathering together documentation of the site and design criteria. We think about what kind of creative work and materials will build an experience for the particular space or object. With that starting point we brainstorm and establish guidelines for the design work and reach out to our network of creative partners to assemble a team. Here is a photo of a site in need of wall covering. This is a five-story office space that also had many conference rooms with glass walls.


For the office building project, we selected Maine-based artist Shoshannah White to partner with us in creating original artwork for the custom products. Together with the client and architectural firm, we developed a theme that makes a connection between computer code and nature through visual structures. Concept sketches and mock-ups illustrate the look and feel for the project.


Artist and designer Karen Gelardi from the SI Studio, and creative partner, Shoshannah White, were both invited to work at the Hewnoaks Artist Colony on the shores of Kezar Lake in Maine. The timing was perfect for beginning their design collaboration on the product design project.


The Colony has a history of textile design. This is where the Volk family created rugs and block-printed textiles. Here is an example of one of their prints on cotton.


While based at the artist residency, our team developed concepts, gathered inspiration materials, sketched, and worked on presentations. (It sounds super relaxing but it was really a push as the timeframe for the project was really tight.) Shown here is a sketch of Kezar Lake by Karen Gelardi (above) and a photo by Shoshannah White (below) taken from outside her studio cabin. These explorations informed a sensitivity to the nature theme they were tackling with the design project.



The studios at Hewnoaks were quiet and remote. The perfect place to develop ideas and imagery.


Native species of plants were collected and shipped to the photo studio. Shoshannah and an assistant worked to create original photos that would reproduce at the full wall height of 12′ with beautiful clarity. We use a combination of traditional and digital photo techniques to maximize the quality of our print technology.


Polaroids from the photo shoot.


The photo shoot yielded an entire library of imagery to be used exclusively for the client.


Several other artists worked to generate algorithm-based illustrations that would be paired with the new photographs, connecting the natural forms with drawings built with computer coding and data inputs.


Photographs and illustrations were grouped together and built to the specifications for each wall.


For long wall expanses, an illustration with a colorful background was created for continuity throughout the building, with each floor in a different color story. The data fed into the algorithm for this drawing was a sound recording of people moving through a space.


Strike-offs showing color and image resolution were created for the client to approve before full production.


A full-scale print sample was made to test out the translation of the imagery at the full wall height.


Final printed panels are rolled out on the cutting table and checked for alignment from one panel to the next.


Full scale print


Installation of the wall covering and window film is happening as we speak!! In the meantime, this site map shows the final plan for the building.

Below are renderings of what they will look like installed:




Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.