Colour conversation with designer, Jackie Piper

Victoria Whitbread and Jackie Piper of Designed in Colour

In the latest of a series of Colour Conversations with people we admire from the world of colour, Melissa talks to Jackie Piper, one half of a dynamic design duo that is Designed in Colour, which produces an award-winning selection of vibrant design-led homewares.

What inspired you to launch Designed in Colour?

We have always been colour geeks (a lot of designers are!). Victoria and I both spent many years designing and developing colourful product collections for other brands, including a huge range for PANTONE, the global colour system used by professionals. Having been involved in all these wonderful creative licenses for years, we hankered after a brand of our own and so set up Designed in Colour as a focal point for our own colourful home collections. In 2015 we launched, and here we are today.

You recently introduced a collection of British Colour Standard mugs, inspired by the historical 1930’s colour matching system. Can you tell us about it?

This has been a work in progress for about two years. We knew the historic colour system existed from our respective design training and spent many hours scouring the old colour books, thinking how lovely it was.

The light-bulb moment was that maybe we should be the ones to bring this back for the 21st century. We then set about digitising the old colour swatches made originally of wool and silk ribbon with a high-tech colour scanner, so that the colours could be reproduced accurately on products today; like on our lovely bone china British Colour Standard mugs.

 From rose-coloured tumblers and cobalt blue wine glasses to tangerine orange place mats, every product is a colourful gem. Do you have a personal favourite?
I do! I love our hand-blown coloured glassware. It is durable (a must with my family), dishwasher safe (another must). I have a long shelf across our kitchen window where keep them all in various tones, which creates a dazzling stained-glass-window effect in the kitchen on a sunny day.

How much of a role does British heritage and nostalgia play in your brand?

The heritage of the system and being true to the original system colours and all the incredible work done in the 1930’s is very important. Matching azaleas and beetroots – with incredible accuracy, I might add, as I cross-checked a great many with a digital scanner ­– was amazing given the technology used at the time.

There is nostalgia there, by definition. They cared so much to match the specific collection of colours for bunting, for example, not just in the UK but around the then British Empire. They matched colours such as Post Office Box Red and Battleship Grey, a part of our national consciousness, and even squirrels and pigeons. The mind boggles! We are happy to be true to the original and also to add more to the system. Watch this space.

What do you think it is about colour that captivates and excites people?

Everyone has a favourite colour – one they love, another they hate.Who is not united or divided by that avocado green of 1970’s bathrooms, or a particular car colour, like British racing green perhaps, or the colour of a beloved piece of clothing? It is a part of our lives from the moment we are born. Colour surrounds us and informs our world; it is a part of food, drink, clothing, an inescapable force around us. We cannot help but be captivated (but perhaps some of us get more excited about colour than others!).

What do you think it is the next big thing in the world of colour?

Ooh, the next big thing. Well, I still think the greys will continue to be a big part of home décor; it works so well in so many periods of home, and as many have found is not drab or dull but cool and calming and a great neutral backdrop for the rest of your worldly goods, which can then be in stronger, brighter tones.

To move it on a step, I think adding a dash of metallic in amongst this – a silver feature wall, for example, in a bathroom or bedroom that picks up and reflects light at different times of the day – can really transform a space. Coppers and brass effects in tiles or paints in key locations, like a splashback in the kitchen, can be really timeless, as well as on trend, and they all work well with the neutral greys.

Does your own home reflect your love of colour?  

My own home is mostly chalky whites, greys and natural wood. There’s an unpainted door from 1930, all flaky and crumbled, which we have left. I don’t want to change its story.

How colourful is your wardrobe, and what shades do you gravitate towards?

OK, well here is where everyone can roll their eyes. I am a typical designer in that most of my wardrobe is black and shades of, with a few white and navy shirts and a bit of washed out denim (sorry!). With my clothing I have to admit I am far more boring than with the colourful products we design.

Have you ever had your colours analysed, and if so what season are you?

I have not and I now want to do this immediately! As a red head I always felt a natural affinity with autumn. I love all the colours that are a natural part of that season. I have always felt like I blended in better with golden autumn leaves and smoky tones than say the colours of spring. I also love autumn dressing; woolly jumpers, cosy wraps and boots. That has to be my season.

Last great colourful buy?
I am not sure if a pet counts but I bought the most amazing ginger fluffy Silkie bantam chicken for my birthday. It was only afterwards that my family pointed out that it matched my hair and I had basically bought myself, but in chicken form. I really didn’t see it at that time!

And finally, if you had to pinpoint a favourite colour, what would it be?

These questions are hard! I will always love Lapis Lazuli blue; a powdered version of a colour the artist Yves Klein used a great deal. It is almost electrically dazzling if you see it in its pure form, and is a natural mineral that occurs as that colour. Incredible. Imagine finding a chunk of that a few centuries ago! We have a small piece of it which we brought in a market in Morocco – it is like having a bit of magic in a pot. Every now and again we find it and just look at it for a few seconds. It is stunning stuff, and literally colour in its purest form.

designedincolour.com 

Does your season change when you tan?

I think this must be up there in the top ten questions asked of colour analysts. Even the most sunscreen-committed of us tend to see some variation in our skintone throughout the year – from winter’s palest shades through the first hint of colour as Spring appears and then on to our own personal deepest tan by the end of the summer. Personally I experience this in extremes, with my father’s fair Scottish heritage predominating during winter and my mother’s more olive-skinned genes taking over once the sun comes out, so as a client it was top of my list of questions when I had my own colour analysis and which my consultant gave an almost identical answer to the one I am going to give you here.

The – very – short answer is no. Not only does your season does not change throughout the year, it actually remains unchanged throughout your entire life, but that’s further than we need to worry about today. Colouring is determined by genetics, and remains unchanged regardless of (natural) tanning, scars, ageing etc.

Rather than ending there, I suppose it’s only fair to also give you the longer answer too. When you had your colour analysis, the chances are you were given some kind of ‘direction’ within your season, being described as a light Spring, or a deep Summer, or similar applicable adjective. So as well as being given a broader palette you will also have been guided as to what your ‘wow’ colours are within that palette.

When we are at our palest (and therefore often our least ‘bright’, regardless of how bold or muted our personal palette is), we often rely on our wow colours more, feeling less confident in other parts of the palette. However, as we get more colour in our own skin, some of those less good colours seem to start working too. The reason is that tan does some of the work, adding a bit of a glow and hiding some imperfections, so we are able to venture outside our wow colour comfort zone a little more and wear just ‘good’ colours as well as wow ones. As an aside, most people are more comfortable wearing brighter colours when it’s sunny and bright outside, so there is a psychological correlation between feeling confident with the brighter colours in warmer weather too.

So, in summary, a tan will never affect your seasonal outcome, but it may affect how you look and feel in some of the less wow colours within your palette.

A note about fake tan: almost all fake tan is warm (yellow) toned, and can seriously alter the outcome of a colour analysis, because it adds an artificially warm overtone to the skin. This is especially true, obviously, of cool toned people, but can alter the wow colour outcome even for the warmer toned among us.

Green – for every palette

Green, the colour of renewal, of nature, of life. It’s an uplifting shade and goes with a multitude of other colours. It can range from palest mint through to darkest pine, from softest olive to vibrant emerald. And you know what else? Most people hardly ever wear it.

You may or may not remember that Pantone’s colour of the year this year is Greenery. Unlike 2015, when the colour of the year, Marsala, was absolutely everywhere, Greenery hasn’t made quite the same impact. People just aren’t as brave with green, in my experience.

I’d be willing to bet that this is because most of us have been put off by a negative experience with green, because when it’s wrong, it’s really really wrong. The right green can brighten and lift, whereas the wrong one will drag you down, add shadows and insta-age the skin.

So which green should you be wearing, and how do you identify it? If you’ve had your colours analysed, just click on the seasonal links below for more information about your best greens and how to choose them. If you haven’t had a colour analysis, why not start with Kettlewell’s quiz, or read on for more information.

 

 

 

If you don’t know your personal colour palette, your safest green is always going to be one with a hint of teal to it, which makes it a more universally flattering shade. If you want to go greener but you aren’t sure if it suits you, just keep the colour away from the area directly under your face, or add another safe universal colour to help balance out any negative effect from the green you have chosen. The chances are, when it comes to green, you’ll be able to see whether it works or not. If you try one and it doesn’t, do persevere, as the right green is like wardrobe magic!

A safe feeling blue with a hint of greenish teal is a great tentative step into the world of greens. Go for Mallard, a universal shade that flatters almost all skin tones.

Kettlewell items shown: Short Cascade Wrap, Soft Square Vest, Suede Tassel Clutch

Light olive shades are usually everywhere in the spring/summer, so another easy green to try, as it won’t stand out as a ‘look at me, I’m wearing green!’ shade. Pair it with a soft white tee, a fairly safe shade for most skin tones.

Kettlewell items shown: Mid Cascade Wrap, Silky Tee, Tassel Necklace

Ready to go bright? Pair a grass green with nature inspired neutrals to keep it boldly tropical but 100% stylish.

Kettlewell items shown: Mid Cascade Wrap, Fine Cotton Tee, Short Ruched Skirt, Tassel Necklace


 

Why should I get a colour analysis?

Keira, our graphic designer, had her colours analysed with Gilly from House of Colour and discovered she was a Jewel Winter

I spend an awful lot of time on this blog chattering on about the ways to wear each palette, the endless variations of any given colour and ways to style my Kettlewell favourites, but it’s been a long time since I’ve given the how a rest and discussed the why. Why exactly should you get your colours analysed? What are the actual benefits to you, a human being with a passing interest in looking and feeling good but also a busy life and other things to worry about?

Picture me rubbing my hands together gleefully at the prospect of informing you. I have just the one blog post in which to do this, so I’ve had to condense my reasons into just six points which hopefully will help nudge you over the edge if you’ve been wondering if this colour analysis malarky is really for you…

Lizzi (Autumn) from Loved by Lizzi blog had her colours analysed with the Red Leopard ladies, Rachel, (Winter), Ilka (Autumn), Manina (Winter) and Annie (Autumn)

Look good

Oh, it’s so obvious, isn’t it? But it really is true. Wearing colours that suit you, whether they are light or dark, bright or neutral, will make your skin clearer, your eyes brighter and your teeth whiter. You’ll look younger and fresher and more put together, because your outfit won’t be working against you, and that’s before you apply a scrap of make up. Wearing clothes that suit you essentially gives you a head start on looking good, regardless of whether you walk out the door bare faced or with full hair and make up every single day.

Annabel from House of Colour in her Winter colours

Feel good

All that looking good naturally translates to feeling good. And it’s not just about feeling ‘pretty’ (or whatever your word of choice is to connote physical attractiveness). Wearing colours that are in harmony with your natural colouring and style will give you an inner boost, be it conscious or subconscious, and allow you to be more open and engaging, stand up for yourself, carry more authority, and feel more attractive – whatever your own personal little hang up is about your appearance and however it holds you back, colour analysis is one huge step towards overcoming it. Wearing the right colours just makes you feel like you, but better.

Sarah, from the Kettlewell team who is a Summer wearing her Tropical Teal Helena blouse

Mix ‘n’ match

My personal favourite. All that looking and feeling fabulous is all very well by itself, but actually the thing I find incredibly satisfying on top of it is having a wardrobe where everything works. The beauty of colour analysis is that everything in your wardrobe will not only suit you, it will suit everything else, so you can mix and match endlessly to create amazing outfits. And (this is it: as a lazy and busy person, my number one benefit) you can get dressed in about 8.3 seconds, without even looking at which top and which bottom you are pulling out of the wardrobe, add some red lipstick, and look like you’ve got it together. Genius.

Annie, one of the Red Leopard stylists with Vanessa from The Model Edit blog – both Autumns.

Go bright

When it comes down to it, most of us don’t wear much colour. It’s very rare that I open a client’s wardrobe doors and see a riot of colour, of any palette. We just don’t have the confidence to wear colour. But seriously, it can bring a whole lot of joy, to you and to others. Knowing that you can in fact wear, and look amazing in, hot pink, or cobalt blue or saffron yellow is a huge confidence boost and can finally give you permission to wear colours you’ve hankered after for years (and stop you continually trying then giving up on wearing a bright colour that your best friend loves but looks dire on you).

Mary (Spring) and Lisa (Summer), from House of Colour in their Striped Pocket dresses

Stay neutral

Of course, if you’re anything like me and actually have zero desire to wear a bright colour 95% of the time, then discovering your best neutrals is even more vital than discovering your best brights. Imagine being able to look and feel absolutely amazing simply by knowing which shade of grey to pick. It’s akin to witchcraft, but anyone can do it.

Sian from House of Colour a Jewel Winter adds a pop of colour to her Silver Sparkle Crossover with her pink glasses!

Be you

Imagine knowing your best palette, not the colours that the fashion industry, your mum, your best friend or your nearest clothes shop, think you should be wearing. It is simultaneously liberating, empowering, terrifying and exciting. Finally you get to wear the palette that you love, not the one you’ve been told to love. You get to embrace the colours that feel like they belong to you because, well, they do.

‘Love Colour Tee’ worn by House of Colour Stylists Kristine (Autumn), Jennie (Autumn), Judy (Spring), Harry (Winter), Elisa (Summer), Catherine (Summer) and Lara (Winter)

Some of these images are taken from our Real Women Gallery on the website. We love to see how you wear your Kettlewell styles (old and new!) so visit here to upload a photo. We are awarding a Florence Infinity Scarf to our favourite image posted before midnight on 31st August 2017.

Autumn/Winter17 Press Day

Whoever said summer is the quietest time of year, has obviously never worked at Kettlewell! Last Tuesday, having only the week before wrapped up a fashion shoot in London, we headed back up for our autumn/winter 2017 Press Day – a sneak preview of next season’s collection in association with our friends at Red Leopard. Fashion writers, editors and stylists, working for titles from Vogue and The Times to the Evening Standard and The Pool, as well as some of our favourite style bloggers, turned up to have their colours analysed by the experts and to view the new collection in Red Leopard’s wonderfully stylish penthouse setting in Battersea.

And even the fact that the mercury outside was hitting 28C didn’t dampen the press’s enthusiasm for finding out what new styles and colours we have in store for autumn/winter, from jackets and skirts to tops and dresses. As new collections go, this one was particularly well received, with our faux-suede Alexa biker-style jacket in five colours proving the biggest hit (getting the journalists to try them on was easy – getting them to take them off was the hard part!), closely followed by merino knitwear in shades of carmine red, emerald, Indian ochre and teal, and our elegant new Paris jacket (with the star range of handbags and make-up bags also getting their fair share of oohs and aahs, too). Now all that remains to find out is what you, the customer, thinks of the new collection when it hits the website in six weeks’ time.

 The Autumn/Winter collection launches on August 30 2017

Which ice cream flavour are you?

It’s summer, it’s hot (intermittently, at least) and, if you’re anything like me, ice cream is featuring heavily in your life in all its many glorious flavours and colours.

There’s something about those pastel-yet-vibrant shades that just evokes an air of  glorious seaside holidays and stress-free living. Why not evoke that retro-beach-holiday vibe in your outfit too, and wear your favourite flavour? From orange sorbet to vanilla ice cream and chocolate to mint, there’s an ice cream shade for every palette.

Spring

So many spring shades sound decidedly edible anyway that it’s no problem imagining them in ice cream form! Keep your shades light and bright, with a sorbet pop to brighten things up.

Summer

Raspberry ripple, strawberries and cream, mint choc chip… All the softest and coolest shades belong in your Summer sundae.

Autumn

Tropical fruity shades, from papaya to orange to kiwi fill your palette, and if that feels a little bright you can always play it safe with coffee and vanilla.

Winter

Contrast icy lemon sorbet or palest mint with bold bright raspberry, strawberry and blueberry. For maximum impact, ripple your shades with bright white.

 

* All images from Baboo Gelato who make our favourite local artisanal ice cream! If you are coming to Dorset, visit them in West Bay or Lyme Regis.

Do your colours work for your style?

Whatever colour palette you wear, whether or not you’ve had your colours analysed, the chances are you’ve had a time when your own personal style seemed to be in conflict with the colour palette you choose to wear. Whether you stick to soft colours and sometimes like to look dramatic or wear bolder colours but favour a more natural look, there will be times when it feels like your palette is working against, rather than with you.

Whatever palette you wear, rest assured that you can make any style work for you. To see how to work ‘against’ the natural tendencies of your own seasonal palette, just click on the links below. If you haven’t had your colours analysed why not take Kettlewell’s quiz, or read on for more inspiration and ideas.

 

 

 

Even if you haven’t had your colours analysed, the chances are that sometimes you’ve struggled to put together your clothes into the look that your trying to achieve, because the colours just aren’t playing together as you want them to. But whether you stick to a more bright and bold palette or a softer more muted one, it is possible to have fun with mixing up the look of your outfit to work ‘against’ the palette. If you want to style more muted colours in a higher impact way, the trick is to layer up dark colours or neutrals (embrace your inner goth, but resist the black if it doesn’t suit you!), perhaps adding a pop of neon colour to add contrast.

Alternatively, sticking to the natural and neutral end of a bright and bold palette is an easy way to embrace a more easy going nature inspired look without losing the colours that you love to wear. If you want to add a pop of bright to lift things without losing the tonal look, add a little lipstick or swap the necklace for a brighter one.