Farrow & Ball remains the top choice for design enthusiasts and adventurous home owners who’d like to transform their living spaces with the most extraordinary shades of quality wall paint, but the brand has come a long way since its foundation 75 years ago to reach its well-earned, global status. We asked Farrow & Ball’s own brand ambassador and Colour Consultant, Patrick O’Donnell about their humble origins in Dorset, and how both the brand and its audience changed over more than seven decades. Read on to find out more about the leading manufacturer of sustainable wall paint solutions, Farrow & Ball!
It’s been 75 years since the inception of Farrow & Ball. How did our perception of wall paints change in that time?
Trends change over time and this is very much the case with paint colours and how we decorate. Post-World War II people started to embrace brighter and cleaner colours, then tastes shifted more towards heritage shades in the 1990s - the year Farrow & Ball launched its first commercial palette - right up to the last ten years of greys and neutrals. In the last twelve months we are seeing customers looking to introduce more colours into their lives, from soft pastels to earthy neutrals and deep, smoky darks!
Who are the customers of Farrow & Ball?
In the early days, our clients and interior designers were looking for authentic colours to paint their period homes - our original palette consisted of 57 colours based on historical references -, but now our appeal has broadened and our client demographic ranges from early 20s hip, urbane types to our original fans who still love our concept of the ‘curated palette’ of 132 shades.
Thanks to the growing popularity of sustainable efforts, more and more manufacturers offer environmentally aware alternatives to their signature products – such as wall paints. In the field of eco-paints, what sets Farrow & Ball apart from its competitors?
We understand there is still much to do in our efforts to become greener and sustainable but we were proudly one of the first manufacturers to move solely to water-based paint in 2010. 100% of our dry waste is recycled or converted into energy and we recycle 97% of our liquid waste, with ambitions to push this number to 100%.
Why is environmental awareness important to your brand?
This ethos should be important to any manufacturer, whether it’s fashion, food production or interiors. We see the stress on the natural world so we must do our part to support these initiatives - whether it’s sourcing our raw materials responsibly or making our products as environmentally sound as possible and kinder to your home environment.
Up until the global expansion in the 90s Farrow & Ball operated out of the limelight in Dorset county, England. How do the traditions of English paint manufacture translate to a modern, global portfolio?
Great Britain has always maintained its international cultural ‘soft power’ - the ability to influence others through the appeal of its products. And if you think of how we get from Shakespeare to punk rock, from Downton Abbey to Damien Hirst, you can see how we get from tradition to rebellion. We are just a small part of that long, historic legacy whose internal DNA can translate globally from creating a deeply universal but edited palette that will sit happily in any home from an elegant fin de siècle apartment in Budapest to a Mies van der Rohe modernist house in the USA.
What are the colors of 2021 for you? What are the finishes that excite your clientele the most this year?
We are in love with earthy neutrals such as Jitney, comforting, deep greens like Green Smoke, and rich, enveloping shades of deep reds and browns like Deep Reddish Brown. In terms of finish, we are seeing a conscious move to practical finishes such as Modern Emulsion for walls. It is a fully washable finish and the perfect solution for heavy traffic areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. Full Gloss is also living its renaissance as a wall finish: when applied correctly, it can add a deeply glamorous feel to a space with its unique lacquer-like quality.
The latest collection of Farrow & Ball, The California Collection – for the first time in the brand’s history - was conceived in collaboration with interior designer Kelly Wearstler. How is the essence of sunny California represented in this collection?
The California Collection is rooted in Kelly Wearstler’s belief that colours found in nature resonate on a visceral level, providing a sense of serenity, an innate recognition, and a feeling of belonging to the surrounding environment. In crafting the palette, Kelly was inspired by the light of the Pacific and the landscape of California, resulting in a modern, American continuation of the Farrow & Ball tradition of celebrating colours in the local landscape.
Along with the latest collection of paints, older collections are also available in the Paint Archive where customers can choose an old classic shade for themselves if they wish. Are there many who like to take a deep dive in your archive and pick a finish from there?
Over the years, we have produced colours that occasionally get archived and often for many reasons: the decision is sometimes driven by trends, there are colours that have been less commercially successful, and it’s sometimes purely to accommodate new colours that we develop approximately every three years. The wonderful thing is, though, they are never discontinued, merely archived, which means if you have a favourite colour that no longer exists in our core collection of 132, it remains available to buy. The archive contains some absolute gems, from rich corals and terracottas to verdant greens and popular mid-neutrals. We are planning to shift our attention towards the archive palette in late 2021 to celebrate our 75 years of producing timeless colours.
Is it entirely up to the customer to choose between a wall paint or a Farrow & Ball wallpaper for their home, or are there situations where one is an obviously better choice than the other?
There is no right or wrong answer. Wallpaper is obviously a greater financial commitment, but it can add beautiful textural design and interest to a space. It can also be applied to ceilings for an interesting and unexpected effect. Paint is possibly a more practical choice for areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, but our wallpapers are also glazed to add extra protection.
What can we expect from Farrow & Ball at S/ALON BUDAPEST 2021?
Expect to see some of our beautiful archive shades celebrated in all their glory.
If you’d like to take a deep dive into the paints of Farrow & Ball - even if only figuratively -, be sure to visit their spectacular appearance brought to this year’s S/ALON BUDAPEST by Naturalii, where state-of-the-art design solutions and the most talented designers and professionals are waiting to show you the modern face of interior design. Let’s meet at the Budapest Arena between September 24-26!