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The Farrow & Ball Phenomenon

Pictured: Crivelli Rose BP 3006 from ‘The Broccato Papers’

Farrow & Ball, started out as traditional historic paint company founded in Dorset in the 1930s but became a global phenomenon 50 years later. Here is a paint brand that can virtually bestow aristocratic status whether it's a shepherd's hut in the garden or one of the historic houses it was originally designed for. There's barely a gastro pub or a boutique hotel in the land which hasn't employed the F&B formula in a bid for success.

Farrow & Ball was set up in Wimborne by two chemists John Farrow and Richard Ball who soon won contracts to decorate the Admiralty and the War Office. But it was in the post-magnolia 90s when the brand really took off - visiting friends houses, trend-setting shops or your local pub became a guessing game - is that Eating Room Red? Or Slipper Satin?  -  names which had somehow slipped into our vernacular. Below Country Calling caught up with Farrow & Ball's Sarah Cole to find out how this traditional Dorset company became the paint brand of the century.

What are the trends in paint today - are neutrals as popular as before? Apparently in New York teal and dark grey are the in colours.

We’re famed for our palette of neutrals, with colours such as Pointing and Wimborne White being enduringly popular. Unexpected colour combinations and colour blocking however, are the key looks for 2012. Strong greys are accented with warm yellows and clean blues for a really modern, graphic look, while subdued blue-greys and delicate purples remain fresh when paired with brighter colours in dynamic combinations. Our colours Pigeon, Brassica, Railings and Babouche, are all rich, nostalgic shades with an underlying quiet intensity that makes them suited to decorating trends in 2012.

Wallpaper has exploded in popularity in the last decade. How has F&B shaped that trend?

All our wallpapers are unique as they are produced using our own environmentally friendly water based paints and traditional manufacturing methods giving them a beautiful, almost textured finish.  Our designs are always inspired by patterns from archives – for example our most recent collection ‘The Broccato Papers’ took inspiration from Renaissance era paintings housed at The National Gallery in London. Through being inspired by the best of the past, rather than being influenced by the present, we can lead the way for current and future trends.

Farrow & Ball has spawned a lot of copycats - not least the trend for paint-matching to F&B colours. Does that bother you?

We are extremely proud of our unique colours and the range of finishes that can be achieved. The craftsmanship, formulas and production techniques used to make our unmatchable paints have changed little over the years since we were founded. Whilst colour can be matched on a superficial level, the depth of colour and the ‘Farrow & Ball look’ of our signature, matt Estate Emulsion cannot be replicated. This is because we use only the finest ingredients, with high levels of pigments and rich resin binders to create high quality paint. Our wallpapers are also created using traditional block and trough printing methods and are coloured using only our own paint to give an equally high quality of wallpaper.

Farrow & Ball has become synonomous with a certain style of decorating and for a long time now has been the paint du jour. Can you tell us how that happened?

We have a trusted name; as one of only a few manufacturers which actually makes all of the paint and wallpaper sold under its name, our customers can be sure they are buying the very best paint and wallpaper available.  This is true for every batch of paint and roll of wallpaper we produce, whether it’s used in a town house in London or a loft apartment in New York our customers can be assured that the product will only reach them if it meets our exceptionally high standards. It’s a combination of both the colours and the brand; the end look is as important to our customers who know they are buying from a brand they can trust and one which is synonymous with style.


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