Plain white walls are passé. We are once again treating ourselves to opulent
walls covered with historical patterns, modern designs, or the kinds of
personalized wallpaper and panels that are created by a very special company in Berlin.
It’s all about emotions, according to Ulrich Welter. The house has been built, the clients are happy with its lines and angles, but something is still missing: an ambiance. Creating the right ambiance is Welter’s specialty. His company in Berlin-Schöneberg has specialized in creating unique wallpaper and panels for walls and ceilings. The palette of materials he uses includes delicate gold leaf, transparent glass beads, robust resin and lavish ornamentations on paper, both traditional and ultramodern. Wallcoverings are an expression of life, says Welter.
Ideally, a wallcovering reflects the customer’s individuality.
Welter’s portfolio of customers includes renowned hotels such as the Adlon in Berlin, the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, and the Negresco in Nice, as well as the haute couture labels Dior and Chanel. Welter and his team experimented for six years before finding the right wallcovering with a craquelé structure that now decorates the flagship stores of Chanel. Wall-coverings from Welter’s company have repeatedly cast a special glow over award ceremonies for the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Emmys.
A trained advertising technician, Welter started out by building stage sets. He liked being able to create a variety of moods and illusions with the help of special techniques, but he was frustrated by having to destroy his meticulously created sets after they had served their purpose. He finally realized that he could create “stage sets for private life” instead by covering walls and ceilings in houses and apartments with colors, patterns and structures that are completely individual and timelessly beautiful.
One example of just how successful this plan has been is the story of a customer in Berlin who recently bought a house that Welter had decorated more than 20 years ago. In the course of the new homeowner’s repairs of the parquet floor, the wallpaper was damaged. The customer asked that it be restored to its former condition. For Ulrich Welter, this was not a problem. Only rarely does he discard a design. However, he is also selective in expanding his product range, because it generally takes him several years to develop a new pattern. This kind of painstaking work obviously has its price. On average, handmade wallpaper costs between 150 and 400 euros per square meter, wall panels between 500 and 1,000 euros per square meter.
Ulrich Welter is often inspired by nature. He never goes on vacation without taking countless photos of unusual roots, soils, masonry, leaves and other structures. He also gets help from his three designers, two of whom are also trained craftsmen. “Everyone contributes his own ideas,” Welter explains. A good example of that is “Chameleon Beads”, a panel consisting of glass beads on an aluminum backing that changes its colors depending on where the observer is standing. This effect is ideal for the decoration of a hotel or a bar, and Welter has had it patented.
Ulrich Welter creates “stage sets for private life” by covering walls and ceilings with colors and patterns that are timelessly beautiful.
Do his international clients have different preferences according to the countries they come from? “The national differences aren’t as great as one might expect,” he says. In his experience, there are bigger differences between his customers’ individual characters. “It’s a matter of personality,” Welter explains. Some customers already have clear ideas about how they want their walls to look. However, most customers require extensive discussions about color, structure and materials before they can arrive at the optimal solution.
And what will we see tomorrow? “The trend is turning away from designs with lots of glitter. People are choosing bronze instead of gold and muddy colors instead of pink or turquoise,” says Welter. In his latest project, the renovation of a luxury hotel in Berlin, his company can implement some of its new ideas. “The owner is bold enough not to be content with preserving it as a historical monument. Instead, he wants to reinterpret the basic structure of the building,” he says.
Ulrich Welter is often inspired by nature. He constantly takes photos of unusual roots, soils, masonry, leaves and other structures.
For a long time, a purist atmosphere and plain white walls were an absolute must among decorators, but today people say this aesthetic feels too cool. Walls are once again being allowed to tell stories, a trend that was impressively demonstrated at recent design trade fairs such as “Maison et Objet” in Paris. Traditional companies such as Cole & Son of London and the time-honored Zuber company of Alsace are causing a sensation with their exotic landscapes and historic flower motifs, and the English company Little Green produces interesting stripe designs and wallpapers with sophisticated textures. De Gournay specializes in exquisite hand-painted reproductions of historic prints, particularly 18th-century chinoiserie and 19th-century French designs. The clients of decorator Birgit Otte are also once again asking for wallpaper in their homes. Whether her clients choose classic stripes for an entryway or a pattern of birds of paradise in the living room, “wallpaper upgrades rooms,” she says.
In times of crises and uncertainty, people increasingly feel the need to at least create a comfortable home for themselves. Wallpaper can inspire people to dream and give them a short break from daily life.
Text: Doro Bitz-Volkmer
Photography: Felix Brüggemann, Welter Wandunikate
The choice of wall-coverings offers an intimate insight into a person’s character, says Ulrich Welter.