Color Theory

What’s in a name? For Farrow & Ball, the answers are unexpected



It’s easy to get lost in Farrow & Ball’s catalog of colors. The historied British company and decorator favorite has built a reputation on its tightly edited palette of moody hues and richly pigmented tones. As memorable as the colors themselves are the unconventional names that accompany them. We asked Farrow & Ball’s creative director, Sarah Cole what really is in a name. Here’s what she had to say:

“Our individual color names are just as much a part of the color as the colors themselves, as a result the naming process is both timely and meticulous. A small team at Farrow & Ball work to develop new paint colors and their names and stories. In 2013 we introduced nine new colors.

“Generally our color names are inspired by nature and our Dorset surroundings, found in historic houses or named after friends. Mizzle, a hazy green-gray tone, is named after the West Country term for the mixture of mist and drizzle. Similarly, new color Purbeck Stone is named after the soft gray color of the stone found on the Isle of Purbeck where we are based.

“Other color names are rooted in history, and give a nod to the name of the place where they were found. New color St Giles Blue is named after a color we found in the hallway at seventeenth century St. Giles House. Many of our original colors were also named in this way.”

1. Arsenic
This green verdigris was first used as a wallpaper ground color on the company's Napoleonic Bee wallpaper. Named accordingly, Arsenic takes its name from contemporary speculation that Napoleon himself had been accidently poisoned by the arsenic used to make the green pigment for the wallpaper in his bathroom in St. Helena.

2. Blackened
Historically made with the addition of ‘lamp black’, a pigment made by collecting the residue from burnt lamp oil, this white has just a slight hint of gray and is suited to urban, architectural homes.

3. Mole's breath
Mole’s Breath is a warm drab that can be used with all our neutrals. It’s named after the rich color of a mole’s coat and is a new cousin to the ever popular Elephant’s Breath.


Paint Cans: ©istockphoto/skodonnell

32 East Putnam Ave.; 203-422-0990; us.farrow-ball.com

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