If you are one of the many people interested by the next big thing in home décor, read on. The latest decorative concept has arrived: LED wallpaper. It could be just what you are looking for to make your home or business environment unique.
Wallpaper has been around for several hundred years and is still popular. LEDs are far more recent, but thanks to their low-energy, long-lasting qualities, they are increasingly in demand.
Designers have decided to see what happens when they combine wallpaper and LEDs. As a result, various LED wallpaper ideas are under discussion and development. Some are even available now. Broadly speaking, these ideas use three techniques. The first places tiny LEDs into sheets of paper; the second actually prints LEDs on paper; and the third uses panels of light.
LEDs in wallpaper
Architects Paper is an award-winning company specialising in creative wallpapers. Among these are handmade, luxury and technical styles. This last category includes magnetic wallpaper, and wallpaper incorporating LED bulbs.
Each strip of the company’s LED wallpaper has integrated lamps. These emit points of light, and create a repeating pattern. You can control the patterns on each length of wallpaper separately, and can adjust the LED bulbs’ colour and brightness.
Printed LED wallpaper
Printed LED wallpaper uses a different type of technology. In a doctoral thesis, Gul Amin of the University of Sweden has shown how it is possible to print white LEDs on sheets of paper. In this way, LEDS can form part of a wallpaper design.
The method of creating the LEDs is unusual. It requires tiny amounts of zinc oxide and a conducting polymer, polydiethylflourene (PFO).
As for the wallpaper, the manufacturer must first coat this with a resin called cyclotene. The resin acts as a protective, water-repellent barrier.
Once everything is ready, the printing can begin, although the technique used is more akin to spraying. In fact, scientists involved with this research have now suggested spraying LEDs on other treated surfaces such as fabrics and plastics.
Printed LED wallpaper would suit a range of creative purposes. Designers could create innovative lighting displays on surfaces at home, in offices and in public areas. However, anyone keen to replicate the idea should note the process is unique, and has a patent pending.
In 2011, the lighting and electronics manufacturer Philips struck a partnership deal with the Danish company Kvadrat Soft Cells. The companies intend to produce flexible acoustic wall panels with built-in LEDs.
The panels will replace conventional wallpaper. The result will be glowing LED walls with a colour-changing function. Proposed extra features include linking the panels to an audio system to enable the LEDs to change colour and create patterns in response to music. The acoustic fabric of the panels will absorb exterior noise and reduce internal echoes.
According to Philips and Kvadrat Soft Cells, the likely customers for the panels are office, hotel and shop designers. But with so many homeowners being energy-conscious and excited by design, we don’t think it will be long before the best dressed homes will be wearing LED wallpaper too.