Farrow & Ball’s Newest Colors Are Inspired by Sardines, Bauhaus, and Dotted Dresses
Fashion designer Christopher John Rogers does paint (and wallpaper).
Published Sep 1, 2023 1:32 AM
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A name: That’s where fashion designer Christopher John Rogers starts when he develops a new hue for the runway. “One of my favorite parts about it is giving them names that feel like they imbue the color with their own personality,” he explains. Coincidentally, Farrow & Ball’s creative director, Charlotte Cosby, begins with a color’s personality to add new shades to the storied British paint and wallpaper company’s card. In the case of Carte Blanche, Rogers’s just-launched collaboration with Farrow & Ball, on shelves September 7, their processes clicked seamlessly. “It was just so easy and natural,” Cosby recalls.
Together, they’ve brought to life four neutrals, eight exuberant brights, and three patterned wallpapers, the latter something the brand has never teamed up on before. And, of course, the names are on point, from the muddy yellow Hog Plum and silvery blue Sardine to the soft cream Au Lait and Liquorice, a deep black.
In his work, Rogers draws inspiration from such disparate subjects as Bauhaus art and design, comic books, and airport decor. With Carte Blanche, the food and family of his Louisiana childhood marks each “oddly specific” paint color. Both creatives are fans of Raw Tomatillo, an optimistic green inspired by fried green tomatoes prepared by one of Rogers’s grandmothers. “I love that it’s vintage…it’s not like a child’s room,” he explains. “It just feels sophisticated.” Cosby remarks on Rogers’s knack for concocting shades that are spirited and playful yet not juvenile. “It is really hard to balance things that way,” she says.
Then there’s Lobster. Anytime the fashion designer shows someone the color card for it, they ask why it’s not red. “There are blue lobsters out there, and parts of them happen to be this really electric but natural blue,” he says of crustaceans found in the region where he was raised.
As for the wallpapers, Rogers says the idea was to distort classic patterns through color and scale. The three styles come in four different colorways, and each has a little trick up its proverbial sleeve. The Dot, one of Rogers’s returned-to motifs, is printed diagonally with a gradient in two neutrals and two brights, while the thick and thin variation in the Stripe lets it be hung alternately, with the option to go thick side by side or with a gap.
While people know him for color, the fashion designer reveals that some of his favorites from the collection are actually the neutrals you could live with for years, like Cardamom, a rich brown that he says is a “little twisted.”
“In fashion, it’s so easy to play with color, play with proportion, play with scale, because you can put it on, you can take it off,” Rogers muses. “You can sort of make it your own. You don’t necessarily have to commit for a long time.” With interiors, he goes on, it’s not necessarily the same thing. As the collection name hints at, the designer devised the mix of hues to encourage people to use them however they see fit—just like getting dressed.
Here’s how we’d use Carte Blanche at home.
Slick Baseboards in Color
Cosby notes that, with this collection, you can stick just your toe in a color. If you start with a neutral on the walls, like Au Lait, “add a Raw Tomatillo skirting, and suddenly that room feels completely different, but only 5 percent of it is color,” she says.
There has been another surprise hit for nooks and crannies: “All our showrooms get to choose a scheme, and I would say 80% of them have picked out Hog Plum,” Cosby reveals. (“Really?!” Rogers responds in real time.) “It’s popped up on the corners, on the skirting. It looks amazing with the blues.”
Color-Block a Doorway
Paint a door in three colors? This collection says yes, and emphatically so. Blue Maize, Pea Flower Tea, and Lobster combine in a graphic, harmonious trio; dabs of Romesco and Shallot, in this instance, offer a little lift. We could see it as a funky entryway.
Combine paint and a corresponding wallpaper, and you have a statement monochrome scheme. Like in the above image, try Roasted Macadamia with the Dot in Roasted Macadamia and Au Lait.
With the same Au Lait background, the Stripe and Check papers make a creative hanging possible. In Rogers’s offices, they’ve wallpapered a conference room in the Licorice, Macadamia, and Au Lait Stripe, but have hung the drops in multiple ways. “It feels quite dynamic, but at the same time, it’s very livable, very comforting,” he says. “So you get something really artistic and directional but really easy.”