Inspire Me – with Charlotte Cosby, Creative Director at Farrow & Ball

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Are you a fan of Farrow & Ball ? I am. It’s hard to not fall in love with their paint colours and wallpaper designs. I love the depth of their colours and the feel, texture and quality of the papers.

Charlotte Cosby, Creative Director at Farrow & Ball is behind all of the beautiful shades and patterns, along with her team, based in Dorset. I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to interview Charlotte and ask her amongst other things, about their new collection …

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A question I am sure you get asked a lot, as you have such a dream job, but how did you become Creative Director at Farrow & Ball ?

It was really just a case of being in the right place and the right time, although a love of design, interiors and colour certainly helped as well!

My first job was at a bank, but as it turns out, I wasn’t that interested in Swiss market intelligence so packed my bags and headed for an ad agency in London. There I worked as a planner but soon realised my heart was in creative and I went to work for a freelance interior designer and gallery owner. Finally, at the tender age of 23, I settled at Farrow & Ball. I was like a kid in a sweet shop full of colours and patterns and have spent the last nine years growing up with the brand.

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What are your earliest memories of colour and patterns ?

I’ve been drawn to colour and pattern for as long as I can remember but my most vivid memory is of the wallpaper in the living room of my childhood home. It had an off-white background with pale blue, peach and aqua irregular dots that created a loose impression of flowers in a garden. Coincidentally, I’m very attracted to patterns with that type of texture and this question has helped me to pinpoint exactly why that might be the case !

Research must be an integral part of your job. Do you travel far and wide ? How do you find these places ?

Yes absolutely, I’m very fortunate to be able to travel to lots of amazing places as part of my job. From research trips to the States to attending trade shows across Europe, I journey anywhere and everywhere for Farrow & Ball! While I’ll often start by looking for inspiration for new wallpaper designs in archives, initial inspiration could have come from anything from Japanese manhole covers to historic houses to something interesting I’ve found in the antiques fabric dealers in New York.

 

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Are you constantly updating your own home with your new hues and wallpapers ? Or do you have staple favourites ?

Yes I paint a lot! Every time we introduce new colours I end up painting another room with a new favourite colour. My home is an eclectic mix of contemporary and modern with a restful colour palette backdrop. I spend a lot of time around colour and am always busy so I opted for a simple, restful palette so I could properly relax.

My bedroom is painted Wimborne White which is a great backdrop for the 8ft high green banana leaf print I have on the wall! The living room is painted in the soothing Dix Blue which is extremely calming and the guest room is a combination of Ammonite and Purbeck Stone.

I also have some bolder colours and patterns, for example I have Lotus 2051 though my hallway. Being a first floor flat, this covers two floors from the bottom of the stairs. For my kitchen, I wanted something a little more dramatic so opted for rich Stiffkey Blue. My bathroom is also painted in Dix Blue and Pavilion Blue but with the addition of a giant pink Aubdon flamingo on the tiles !

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How would you recommend using palettes throughout a home to ensure a happy balance ?

If you want a house to flow from room to room, choose paints that have the same weight of colour within them. Strong colours are great but do think about how they relate to one another. Make sure you are happy with the flow and that it doesn’t shock or jar from one room to another. For example, a Stone Blue hallway leading into a Rectory Red living room will work well because the weight of colour is balanced.

Farrow & Ball have the most wonderful selection of whites. Can a subtle difference in shade make all the difference in a room and why ?

It certainly can ! As with all of our colours, our whites have different undertones. The key to picking the right white is taking the time to understand how these undertones will affect the space you are decorating as well thinking about the look and feel you want to achieve. For example, with its red undertones, Joa’s White is the perfect companion for Book Room Red or Rectory Red and will create a warm and homely environment. To create a cooler more urban style, neutrals like Blackened or Dimpse which have soft blue tones, illustrate how the undertone of a colour can not only change the overall feel of the room but also the style.

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I immediately spot your colours and patterns in people’s homes. What do you think it is about Farrow & Ball paint and wallpapers that make them so distinctive ?

Our paints are made using the highest quality pigments and resins and no low quality ‘ fillers ‘, which means they have a visibly greater depth and purity. The key ingredients of Chalk, China Clay and high quality Titanium Dioxide all combine to give our paints their unique absorbing finish. We also test every batch of paint by hand for colour accuracy, so they meet our obsessively high requirements.

Farrow & Ball wallpapers are just as distinctive. Our papers are handcrafted according to traditional production methods and created using our paints meaning it’s easy to combine paint and paper to create a cohesive look within a room.  You could choose to pick out the ground or pattern colour on woodwork or other walls, or choose fabric and furnishings inspired by the paper. The paint also gives the paper a uniquely textured appearance which makes them really tactile – you can’t help but want to touch them !

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Can you tell me about the new Farrow & Ball wallpapers – Hornbeam, Feather Grass and Blostma. What is the inspiration behind them ?

Living and working in Dorset, I am constantly inspired by the beauty of nature and the changing seasons.  I wanted to create a collection that celebrates the special influence that the British countryside has on you, and translate this into the home.

These papers are inspired by a desire to embrace and appreciate the beauty of nature around us. They are also part of a wider design trend for trees, plants and leaves, as people take a moment and connect with the nature around them. Feather Grass, for example, has a wonderful large scale border design that makes you feel like you a lying in a country meadow !

People are increasing viewing their homes as places of sanctuary and this collection really encapsulates the calm, restful feeling that we all strive to achieve.

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Finally, what are your colour predictions for 2016 ? 

The colours we’ll be looking to decorate our homes going into 2016 will promote a sense of tranquillity and wellbeing.  Sophisticated pastels shades that can be used in isolation or combined with classic greys will continue to be popular throughout the year. The smoky, silvery Light Blue, a colour that is neither blue nor grey but mysteriously somewhere in between and works brilliantly when combined with some of our cooler neutrals such as Dimpse, Blackened and Lamp Room Gray.

Warm Pink Ground reflects the desire to turn away from the more sweet and sugary pinks and towards a more soft edged colour that while remaining pretty, exudes a sense of class. Combined with the darker tones of Charleston Gray and London Stone, Pink Ground is the ultimate sophisticated chic pink for the year ahead.

A huge thanks to Charlotte for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions about her inspirations and very cool job at Farrow & Ball. It was such a pleasure to meet her recently at the Amara Interior Blog Awards when she presented me with my award.

Some really insightful information there about colour inspiration. Has to got you in the mood for painting and decorating ? What do you think of the new wallpaper collections ? Leave me a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog … as ever, I would LOVE to hear from you …

Lucy x

All images copyright of Farrow & Ball 2015.

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