FESPA speaks to EFKA's International Sales Manager, Harold Klaren regarding the current opportunties that signage provides.
Signage plays a huge part in our lives. So much so that often we go about our day without fully acknowledging the signs we encounter. That’s not to say that they’re not having an impact on us though. Quite the opposite – they direct us, remind us and even influence our decisions. From a sales perspective, they can be used to attract new customers and alert them to products and services.
Proven to be highly impactful in capturing attention and sending a message, it’s no wonder that there’s increased demand for eye-catching signage in interior spaces such as shops, hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and even offices. And with advances in technology, combined with a better understanding of how signage can be used, it’s becoming an essential tool to address challenges such as how to engage consumers who expect more personalisation, immersive design and memorable experiences. In this sense, interior signage is moving from the functional to the aesthetic and taking its place in the interior décor market.
A thriving market, Smithers research forecasts the interior décor space to grow 5% annually from 2018 to 2023. In the past five years, at FESPA, we’ve seen huge potential in this sector across all verticals we represent – as recognised in our popular Printeriors showcase.
In a recent interview with Harold Klaren, International Sales Manager at Netherlands-based signage supplier EFKA, he highlighted that this trend is driving changes for the company and its customers. Founded in 1888 as a picture frame company, EFKA manufactures aluminium textile frames, both unlit and illuminated, for customers worldwide. Recognising the growing demand for decorative signage applications in interior spaces, EFKA has adapted its products, for example, by making frames with rounded edges for enhanced safety and expanding its colour portfolio.
Harold explains, “In recent years, we’ve recognised that many of our customers – both wide format printers and signmakers – have shifted their focus to the interior décor market. Many brands want to keep their spaces fresh and exciting and, with signage, it’s possible to completely change the look of an interior within a couple of hours.”
As Harold explained, signage can be updated easily and brands appreciate the ability to regularly revamp interior spaces with signs. For example, a theatre can use signage to reflect the current production, or restaurants can make seasonal updates to signage to reflect menu changes. For signmakers, this is a prime opportunity. Why? More updates translate to more signage and an increase in orders. It also gives signmakers more creative freedom to suggest fresh ideas, supporting customers beyond just supplying the final product.
This new interior décor focus is provoking growth in another area, according to Harold, namely increased demand for illuminated signage. In response, EFKA has again expanded its offering. “Producing illuminated signage opens up a lot more opportunities. We can produce frames with dimmable LED, with RGB lighting that changes colour, with a tuner for varying whites or even offer dynamic lighting that changes the picture and allows you to play a video. Most importantly, customers want more flexibility to control their signage so it’s essential that the lighting can be operated by them.”
Another hot topic in this market is the heightened demand for sustainable signage solutions. As new environmentally friendly materials come to market, signmakers can explore new ways to boost interior design appeal, for example, reinforcing a brand’s sustainability message by adding plants around signage.
Signage in a post-COVID environment
Of course, we can’t ignore that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the signage market. With local lockdowns forcing many retail and commercial spaces to close, signmakers have felt the effect of reduced business. However, in response to the health and safety restrictions imposed by the pandemic, many signage businesses have remained agile, adapting their focus to supply essential products for the re-opening and general operations of many businesses.
As Harold explained, “We saw the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our core business very early on and decided we could do two things: wait for the market to return to normal or adapt our frames for new purposes. With the unknown longevity of the pandemic, we started producing social distancing separation walls and sanitising stations, which have proven to be extremely popular.”
Reflecting on 2020, the story from EFKA will be relatable for many signage producers. “We’ve witnessed resilience throughout the market and signage’s essential role has been acknowledged in many industries across the globe”, says Harold.
As we emerge from local lockdowns, for all the reasons we’ve highlighted here, EFKA is confident that investments in signage will return and signmakers will be able to take advantage of new opportunities. At this year’s European Sign Expo (stand 2-C10), they’ll be highlighting some of the most innovative signage solutions in the market, helping signmakers to meet customer demands in interior décor and beyond.
Explore the latest innovations in non-printed signage at the European Sign Expo 2021, Europe's dedicated non-printed signage and visual communications exhibition. Discover the latest products, network with like-minded individuals and explore new business opportunites. Register your interest here.
by FESPA Staff