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Innovative wallpaper transforms ugly wires into art

Never hide your TV cords again

Conductive wallpaper, an installation created by the UM Project and Flavor Paper for Collective Design Week 2017.
All photos courtesy of the UM Project

Collective Design Fair—a celebration of innovative contemporary design organized during NYCxDesign 2017—wrapped up last week in New York City, and one of the most interesting installations from the show was wallpaper.

By itself, wallpaper may not seem all that innovative, but the UM Project—the name stands for user and maker—teamed up with New York-based Flavor Paper to create conductive wallpaper that can power household items like lamps, fans, and speakers.

Called the ‘Conduct’ project, this playful take on wall coverings pokes fun at the premise that despite our highly connected and technology-driven lives, we hide the wires in our homes. There have been feeble attempts in home design to organize and color code wires, but for the most part, wires for our computers, TVs, and lighting are banished out of sight.

The Conduct installation uses conductive inks and small strips of metal to connect five different conceptual electrical objects: a lamp, a fan, a speaker, a light box, and a hinged mirror. When a person touches the copper dots on one of the wallpaper squares, it completes the circuit and the devices start to work.

It’s a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem, and UM Project turned to vintage design and the integration of 2D and 3D elements to make the installation visually appealing. The wallpaper also fits with the goals of UM Project—to create furniture and unusual goods that are both functional and playful.

While still in the concept stages, it’s easy to see how conductive wallpaper could carry power to wall-mounted TVs or computers and be an asset in design instead of an eyesore. A few drawbacks—what about kids, for example?—might prevent it from acquiring widespread use if it’s ever produced, but this is certainly a design innovation to follow. Take a look at the photos, below.