“Artisanal” is a term bantered about by cheese-makers and breweries these days as if it had no real contextual meaning. The distinction refers to products made by traditionally trained craftsman – minimally impacted by the advances of the industrial revolution. Since its establishment in 1946 in Dorset England, Farrow & Ball has been producing artisanal paints and wallpapers in the same time-honored ways. I sat down with Christine Klotz and Lydia Tower at the D&D building showroom last week to learn about F & B, and why it’s considered by many to be the best paint and paper resource.
First, I was struck to learn that the paint collection is limited to 132 colors. Christine and Lydia explained that F&B is more than a paint and paper manufacturer – the brand is an aesthetic movement. The colors are chosen by a creative team whose focus is on maintaining the “Farrow & Ball” look. This is curated color and texture elevated to an element of design as important as architecture. The paints are produced, one batch at a time, in Dorset – then shipped worldwide. I asked Klotz and Tower to explain what sets them apart from other paint and paper vendors. They explained that F&B uses organic pigments, with up to 30% more umbers, resins and ochres, which give their colors visibly greater depth and purity. Conversely, they don’t use polymer fillers to extend coverage. All the paints in the collection are water-based, with minimal to no VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) to poison the environment as the paint dries. Each of the paint colors is available in a range of finishes from the signature “Estate” emulsion (2% sheen) through “Estate” eggshell (20% sheen) all the way to High Gloss. They’ve also developed a full range of primers specifically formulated to be matched with the finish and the surface to be painted. Sounds overwhelming, but the staff at Farrow & Ball showrooms are rigorously educated so that your experience in choosing their products is effortless.
The wallpaper collection has 33 patterns, including several scale variations – based on historical documents that are centuries old – created using Farrow & Ball paint. Remarkable in craftsmanship, the background colors are hand brushed, with the subtle yet distinctive brushstrokes evident. The patterns are methodically trough or block printed. The later have the tell-tale “seaweed” stippling caused by the suction created when the loaded block is lifted from the paper. Glorious old-school if ever I’ve seen it. And as you can imagine (leaving nothing to chance) F&B has its own wallpaper paste, perfectly matched for successful installation.
I wondered if having a custom color manufactured by the company (meeting its own standards for excellence) was possible. No problem, F&B is happy to help you achieve their signature look in any color you choose. This is a company whose sales are driven by educating the design community about their stellar products, and by exemplary customer service. The paint formulas might be a company secret, but their formula for success isn’t.
D&D Building 979 3rd Avenue Suite 1519 New York 212-752-5544