The concoction of colour is not dissimilar to the production of coffee, according to Farrow & Ball. When creating the latest hue, the sultans of superior shades have perfected the art down to a T. We learned this when we were lucky enough to visit the Farrow & Ball factory in Dorset. On arrival we got to hear the fascinating Joa Studholme, Colour Curator at Farrow & Ball, discuss the combinations of colour. From shades of white to neutral hues and on to perfect palettes, Joa showcased how Farrow & Ball’s paints adapted to light, how chalky undertones create the ideal cover for the home and finally, how to introduce Farrow & Ball into the home in the most impactful and creative way.
So, what does that have to do with coffee? Well, as many may not know, coffee beans start as a plant. Once picked, their journey takes them from white little flowers, through to green, yellow, orange, red and purple-y berries. They then get taken to white beans and finally roasted to make them brown.
It was Anette Moldvaer, Director at Square Mile Coffee Roasters who took us through this process. Anette sees so much more then just brown coffee, that many of us naturally would. There’s so much more in the taste. When tasting different types of Square Mile coffee, you could get a sense of what Anette meant. Some had berry undertones which made you think of purples and pink hues. Others had a zing of yellow-y citrus, meaty reds or as Sarah from Girl About House identified, “this one tastes like Heinz tomato soup”. And she was right, it really did!
The talk, Behind the Ingredients: An Exploration of Colour and Coffee, Joa and Anette showcased how we can take inspiration from so many places. As Anette suggested, “why not take inspiration from your favourite morning drink to decorate where you sit and drink it?”.
So, what goes into Farrow & Ball paint? Well, the process is quite interesting. We had a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory and those chaps know their paint. Huge vats turn and twist different paint combinations with a giant whisk. Like stepping into Willy Wonka’s factory, sans the oompa-loompas, paint is created into Farrow & Ball’s iconic shades. Charlotte’s Locks, Nancy’s Blushes and Elephant Breath. Over to the other side there’s teeny tiny sample pots which are filled with All White and Dove Tale that squirt out like play-doh. Then there’s the lab at the back. When each paint is mixed, a sample gets taken to the lab to make sure it’s the exact shade it should be. They smother this sample on a patch that when brushed over, should give an even and clear finish. It’s also placed into a computer and these paint-wiz’s can see if the paint is too dark or too light. If it’s just right, then off it goes to be tinned up and dispatched. If not, then back it goes to have a dash of this or a dash of that. It’s more like Charlie and the Colour Factory. A grown-up paint playground and interior-obsessives dream!
We even got mixing ourselves! Colour mad Emma-Jane Palin and Martha from The Colour File were in their element. Emma opted for a vibrant pink that she deemed was “exactly the colour she’s been looking for!” and Martha went for, what we could only describe as, “Bridget Jones Blue Soup”. Now we think of it, Blue Soup does sound like the sort of name F&B would create… perhaps we’ve inspired them? We didn’t know what we were going for but after starting life as a Campino strawberry & cream colour, Mark mixed up a gorgeous peach-y coral shade. We learned two key things from doing this. 1) it takes a lot of elbow grease to get that paint perfectly mixed and no wonder they have gigantic stirrers for doing this. 2) it’s hard to know exactly what shade is going to appear.
Martha’s started life as a swirly, marbling rainbow of colour but ended up being a pastel mint-y blue, which none of us could have predicted!
It just goes to show that there’s an art into paint and one that Farrow & Ball have perfected.
David & Mark x