By: Anne Martin

The Manhattan skyline from The Hearst Tower’s 44th floor is a breathtaking sight. Yet after a cocktail meet-and-greet, the 110 attendees at “Wallcoverings through the Ages” gladly pulled themselves from the stunning views for an equally riveting presentation and panel discussion.

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The sold-out crowd at “Wallcoverings through the Ages” assemble on the 44th floor presentation space at Hearst Tower.

Hearst Design Group (HDG) and International Furnishings & Design Association (IFDA) hosted the September 9th event, featuring HDG market editor Orli Ben-Dor, Cooper Hewitt assistant wallcoverings curator Gregory Herringshaw, and York Wallcoverings’ VP of product development Gina Shaw.

The enthusiasm suffusing the room was a microcosm of the world’s renewed fondness for wallpaper, one of history’s most enduring decorative products. “I’ve been writing House Beautiful’s wallpaper column for about ten years, and we keep broadening our wallpaper coverage,” said Ben-Dor. “Readers can’t get enough of it.”

Herringshaw agrees. The Cooper Hewitt’s new interactive wallpaper Immersion Room “is not only one of the renovated museum’s top attractions, it has become the hip place for selfies,” he quipped. Visitors to the Immersion Room can play designer with a clever high-tech pen, and select wallpapers from the museum’s permanent collection for floor-to-ceiling projection on the walls.

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Kate Kelly Smith, SVP and Publishing Director of Hearst Design Group, introduces panelists (left to right) Orli Ben-Dor, Gregory Herringshaw and Gina Shaw.

Ben-Dor spoke of courageous companies redefining every treatment from metallics to murals, thereby escalating wallcoverings’ hip factor. Cool new products — like a durable new vinyl wallcovering that is treated like a brassy grasscloth and cheekily named Brasscloth — appeal to younger consumers. “It’s neither brass nor cloth-based, but it’s amazing!” she said.

Shaw’s showcase of new directions and game-changing technologies included an illuminating look at shiny Mylar’s fascinating new incarnations, and a new wallpaper made entirely of lotus leaves. She also shed light on wallpaper’s perception as magical yet maddening by explaining York Wallcoverings’ deep dive into producing wallcoverings that are exponentially easier to install, and are guaranteed to remove in full sheets.

York Wallcoverings will introduce this natural wallcovering made entirely from lotus leaves in February 2016.

York Wallcoverings will introduce this natural wallcovering made entirely from lotus leaves in February 2016.

One of the evening’s most touching moments was when Shaw stated that 99% of York’s wallcoverings are made in the USA, whereby the room burst into a spontaneous and enthusiastic round of applause.

“This has been the perfect way to kick off IFDA’s fall programming,” said IFDA New York chapter president Andrea Brodfuehrer of the sold-out event. Attendees, who kept the lively Q&A section going long after the allotted time and who each left with a gift bag of goodies from Hearst, York and one of its licensors, WILLIAMSBURG, clearly concurred.