In World War One ships were painted with ‘dazzle camouflage’. By breaking up the clean lines of warship it becomes a lot harder for the enemy u-boats to spot on wide expanse of the open ocean. Dazzle camouflage fell into disuse in the 1920s when spotter planes and then RADAR made it redundant. There are no surviving examples of ships painted in it and very few photos.
As part of the World War One centenary, dazzle camouflage has been recreated on HMS President, a WWI era ship. But, they did not paint the ship, they wallpapered it. Strictly speaking, its a waterproof vinyl material rather than paper but it was produced by Presson, makers of custom wallpaper.
The project is wonderful on many different levels – celebrating an forgotten aspect of the Great War, it looks amazing and it highlights how digital printing is changing things. Custom wallpaper is very much at the high-end of the market but in a few years, thanks to digital printing, it will be cheap enough for most peoples kitchens and homes.
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