Behind the palette
Farrow & Ball colour consultant Joa Studholme reveals the story behind nine new paint shades
What is your biggest influence as a colour
expert? I’ve had the privilege of working with Farrow & Ball for more than twenty years, so a lot of the magic of adding to these palettes has become innate. It is a gut reaction that comes from being immersed in a world of colour day in, day out. However, when the process starts there are three broad influences. The first is trends – colours that feel relevant to the modern home, such as ‘Jitney’, which heralds the use of earthy tones and the end of grey mania! Secondly, there may be existing colours that just need to be adjusted for today’s market, such as ‘Smoked Trout’ (that felt a little too mushroomy), which has now been replaced by ‘Sulking Room Pink’ (a touch warmer). Finally, some popular colours just beg to have lighter or darker friends. ‘School House White’ is the ideal paler version of ‘Shadow White’ and ‘Shaded White’, creating a group of neutrals that are timeless and incredibly easy to use. However much we love colour, neutrals will probably have the widest appeal!
Where did you find the inspiration for the
new paint shades? Every time I washed my son’s workwear I would look at the colour and long to paint it on the wall – even more so when it had been laundered over many years. From this thought, ‘De Nimes’ was born. ‘Rangwali’, meanwhile, had been lodged in my brain since I was at the Holi festival in India, where everyone is sprayed with vibrant colours. When I looked in the mirror that night, the powder I had been covered in included this fabulous pink. Our new green, ‘Bancha’, began life as a stronger version of ‘Olive’, an archive hue, but I spent a huge amount of time trying to perfect it. I eventually came across it in tea made by a Japanese friend. How do you feel growing colour trends reflect the way we live now? As homeowners have become braver and started to move away from the grey palette of the past ten years, the natural progression has been towards the ➤
colours of nature. Deep greens and blues feel protective, so have started to be used in living rooms that we retire to at night. Also, in times of international turmoil, we all tend to gravitate towards warmer red-based colours that make us feel like we are being given a great big hug and can forget about the outside world.
Is creating a new palette a lengthy process?
As soon as a set of colours is finalised, my head is bursting with ideas for the next ones. Their creation starts in the simplest of ways: at my kitchen table, where ramekins are filled with shades that are mixed and remixed. It may seem very basic, but it’s extremely effective.
Of the nine new shades, which do you think will win the most decorating fans?
‘Paean Black’ is the most fashion forward. I feel that the modern home is ready for deep, warm tones after years of ubiquitous charcoal – and who can resist this bohemian dark that conjures up ancient libraries? However, not everyone will want to embrace the drama of this hue, so for easy living there’s ‘Jitney’, inspired by beaches in the Hamptons, which is less grey than ‘Elephant’s Breath’ but not as warm as ‘Oxford Stone’. Hopefully it will become a favourite.
The colours’ names are so evocative – which did you have the most fun dreaming up?
We try to make all of the names intriguing, so that one’s imagination runs wild trying to visualise the colour. However, they are never invented on a whim. The tone of ‘Sulking Room Pink’ was influenced by paints used in traditional ladies’ boudoirs. I spent time considering the boudoir and how it got its name and quickly realised that it is derived from the French word bouder, which means to sulk. ‘De Nimes’, meanwhile, translates as ‘of Nimes’ in reference to the French town where denim, the inspiration for the shade, was first woven. Another new colour, ‘Treron’, is a slightly greener version of the Farrow & Ball classic ‘Pigeon’, so the name comes from a green species of the pigeon family.
When colours have to be placed in the archive to make way for new shades, is the decision a tough one?
Colours are retired with a heavy heart. Some may have fallen out of fashion, some are deemed too close to another Farrow & Ball shade, and others are reinvented with a twist.
How many shades do you have in the archive? Are you keen to bring any out and return them to the colour card?
There are 87 colours currently in the archive – each as cherished as they were on the day of their creation. They are still available to buy on request, so they no longer need to be part of our curated palette.
What’s the heritage behind Farrow & Ball’s paint shades?
We have many that have been found in historic houses, such as ‘Calke Green’, ‘Book Room Red’ and ‘St Giles Blue’. In this set of new colours there isn’t a direct link to a house, but ‘Preference Red’, with its Baroque quality, is reminiscent of ancient drapes used in Venetian palaces. Despite that it is achingly fashionable for those who favour a luxe look. The paint’s moniker was chosen in honour of our company’s original trade name, Preference Paints.
Which of the new colours would you use in your own home?
I am lucky enough to have used all of them. It is essential to look at how they react in different lights and in different finishes – I am happy to be the guinea pig! Like many people, I love to create some drama for guests on arrival, so my hallway is painted in ‘Bancha’, while the kitchen is made to look as light and bright as possible with ‘School House White’ on the walls. Smaller, darker rooms are painted in the stronger colours to create intimate spaces – a boot room in ‘De Nimes’ and pantry in ‘Rangwali’ are particular favourites. I am not afraid of wearing colour either, but I would hate to detract from the real heroes on the wall! All Farrow & Ball paints, from £45 for 2.5 litres of Estate Emulsion ( farrow-ball.com)
‘Preference Red’ ‘Treron’ ‘Bancha’ ‘De Nimes’ ‘Paean Black’
‘School House White’ ‘Jitney’ ‘Rangwali’ ‘Sulking Room Pink’