Welcome to the first in our new monthly blog about colour by our resident colour specialist, Helen Trevisol Duff, who will write under the name of ‘The Colourist’.
Helen has had an illustrious career, starting out as a Forecast Colourist consulting for big name fabric companies and corporates in the fashion industry. She was also the owner of two highly successful art and craft shops in Northfields, Ealing for nearly 30 years called ‘Darch and Duff’ – and is now a painter based in Ealing working in watercolour, acrylic and mixed media.
Her passion for colour and light transcends all her work. Her classical training in the UK and Japan alongside her experience as a fashion colourist reflect in her work. She is inspired by architecture, nature and the world around her and her practice is mindfully and quietly applied using Japanese brushes.
Helen’s blog will take the form of a conversation with her fellow Skylark Galleries artist and friend portraitist Stella Tooth.
With WGSN – a trend forecasting company founded in West London and Pinterest featuring ‘Al aqua’ as the colour for 2021, it’s interesting that Pantone is featuring yellow and grey.
Talking to my artist friend Stella she said that, perhaps then she was ahead of the curve for once then in choosing a new grey sofa to replace her old black one. But I explained to her that there are no such coincidences in the worlds of fashion and interiors…
Grey is there because it was decided two years ago so the choice in front of you has been very carefully put together.
When I was a forecast colourist consulting for fabric companies and corporates (Arcadia group, River Island, DMC, Windsmoor Group etc, alongside my shops) deciding on palettes ahead of season, the process from initiation of colour ideas right through to yarn that has to be dyed, spun, woven and made into fabric before the styling has even begun takes time.
The colour for your sofa started life at least three years ago. The decision of the colours that are emerging is decided pre-season by colourists, fabric companies and retailers working together. There’s a lot of finance at stake. I was a fashion colourist and initiated the critical path for many companies working ahead of season, working with their buying teams to make sure that this would happen in good time so that the correct colours were delivered into the stores at the right time.
I would give my colour ideas to a worldwide forum as an elected member of The British Textile Colour Group. We would meet as a group of 20 of the top colourists in the uk and put together our ideas. I was invited and elected as a member as I was working with the major fashion retailers on colour. I started as a designer and then specialised in colour ahead of Pitti Filati and Premier vision the fabric and yarn shows in Italy and Paris.) I worked ahead of season in Prato with the fabric Mills to make sure the colour wovens were established as a collection.
I would give Pantone my swatches to dye up in large quantities working with their labs in Germany and contribute to their swatches pre-season. They needed to know what colourists such as myself were working on in order to dye up their recipes for their books. Later they established their own team and I worked closely with the UK office. I liaised with Mills and yarn manufacturers in Japan, China, India, Mauritius, Italy and France.
It’s a science but there is passion attached and a gut feeling. If you get a colour wrong, ie ; it doesn’t sell it can cost the retailer millions. Hence I earnt a very good living out of my reputation for getting it right, meaning creating colours and combinations for plains and prints that sold in the mass market. One bad season and as an independent consultant you’ve had it!
So Stella, your lovely new grey sofa that you thought was your choice, is your choice however that has been presented to you through the hard work of trend forecasters over two-three years ago. What’s on offer colour wise is what’s been predetermined by fabric and interior companies who use trend information to get it right.
Last year I painted bespoke yellow flowers for a customer who moved into a new house with a blank canvas, literally and having bought her grey sofa, I suggested yellow hibiscus with gold frames. It works through to anything that decorates the home.
It’s a world I know well and has many influences.
It’s exciting and I’ve had many exciting discussions with friends who have just decided that it was their idea to paint their living room blue for instance, not realising that the reason they are looking at blue or other colours is because of the influences that have already been delivered to finding that paint pot on the shelf in Farrow and Ball or Dulux.
It’s a science and a passion.
Do take a look at three fantastic pieces by Skylark artists that will be exactly on trend:
Aiming for “a message of happiness supported by fortitude,” colour expert Pantone has announced not one but two ‘colours of the year’ for 2021.
The picks for the coming year are Ultimate Gray and a “cheerful yellow” called Illuminating.
At Skylark Galleries many of Our artists have been creating beautiful pieces which would work well in the latest home interior trend of yellow and grey.
Do take a look at this selection which are exactly on trend :
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