Colour trends

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 

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


 

Nautical but nice – the 100 year history of the breton

Bretons are a mainstay of many a wardrobe. Smartened up with a blazer and skirt or thrown on with denim shorts, they are the ultimate dress-up-dress-down style staple. But have you ever wondered where this wardrobe cornerstone originated?

Bretons have been a fashion classic since Coco Chanel introduced them a full century ago in her 1917 nautical collection, but did you know that their heritage runs even further back? In 1858 they were introduced by decree as part of the French naval uniform, and Chanel was inspired by the smart look sported by the sailors on a trip to the French coast.

The original naval breton stripe was a strictly regimented affair – the breton was intended to be long enough to cover the lower back of the sailor, fitted enough not to get caught on rigging, and the stripes were a strict 2cm of white to 1cm of blue (and if the use of centimetres in the 19th Century seems strange, consider that the French actually started using the metric system in the 1790s, and it was adopted by the country as a whole in 1837. Ahead of the game in more than just style staples).

The breton has been sported by everyone from Chanel herself to Audrey Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. In more modern times it was revolutionised by Jean Paul Gaultier, and has been popularised by fashion icons such as Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo, and the Duchess of Cambridge frequently turns to a classic breton and jeans outfit for less formal engagements. We’ve collected images of famous breton wearers over on our ‘Nautical but nice’ Pinterest board, click image to view.

Of course, the breton in 2017 is every bit the style solution is was in 1917. A few twists and tweaks, and it still has all the fresh nautical appeal of the original, with added wearability. Kettlewell’s version has a slight change on the stripe width, and comes in four flattering colours, so if navy and white isn’t your best look, there’s still an option that looks amazing on you. And if you love the breton stripes but feel the need to wear something other than a striped tee occasionally (I suppose it’s possible that this might theoretically happen to some of you) then look no further than the maxi dress,  which carries the same classic-but-insoucient look of the original breton, brought right up to date.

Stripe Boat Neck in True Red, Cotton Blazer in Iris, Suede Tassel Clutch in Lobelia and Ballerina Pumps in Light Gold – all from Kettlewell

 

Stripe Maxi Dress in Red, Short Cascade Wrap in Azure, Tassel Necklace in Neon and Cream, Suede Tassel Clutch in Cobalt Blue – all from Kettlewell

Cosy Cotton Stripe Top in Deep Sea Green/Grey Marl, Florence Infinity Scarf in Soft Teal, Jersey Trousers in Marine Blue

If you haven’t adopted the breton stripe as a wardrobe staple yet, you probably should.

 

Saluting the sunshine hues by Melissa

Did you spot Kettlewell in The Times this week? T2 had dedicated the front page and a double-page spread to our favourite topic, colour, and specifically how to wear it this summer. Fashion Director Anna Murphy was telling us all to move beyond blacks and neutrals and embrace the season’s sunshine hues, and for those overwhelmed by all the colour choice on the high street right now, Kettlewell was the place to go to find the colours that work best for you. It’s always great to get a mention in the national press and to take part in any conversation about colour, so we were thrilled to be included.

Talking of summer colour choices, we’ve been poring over Pantone charts and mood boards in the studio this week, choosing colours and prints for our Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

With Pure Zen, Living Garden, Drawn Botanicals, Mystical Tribes and Neon Tropics among the predicted style trends for 2018, it was a case of assessing a range of potential prints to identify ones that would best work for our styles and fabrics, as well as, of course, our customers. Then it was down to the serious business of choosing new colours, with each of the four seasons, Spring (me), Summer (Sarah), Autumn (Claire) and Winter (Anna) selecting the shades for their respective palettes from literally thousands in the Pantone charts. It’s rather like a group of people in a restaurant intently viewing the world’s longest menu, imploring the next person to go first before making their own choice.

The key is to leaf through the Pantone charts, colour by colour, and hone in on the shades that you are instinctively drawn to, with an eye on the style it would suit. With 150 shades already in the range, it’s no easy task to find ‘new’ colours.  Winter is the hardest season to work with, as the colours have to be spot-on:  intense and vibrant or icy and sharp, with no shades in between, but the three others have plenty of variation either side. After hours of intense colour scrutiny, we had whittled it down to our favourites.

Heliotrope, blue jewel, shell pink, dove grey, azure and pink geranium have been our bestselling colours this summer, with the apple butterfly print and red and white Breton stripe among our most popular prints. It’ll be interesting to see which of the shades we’ve just picked out will be topping the charts this time next year.

Colour conversations with Fiona Douglas from Bluebell Gray

At Kettlewell, we are always excited to discover people who share our passion for colour. In the first of a new series of Colour Conversations with colour champions we admire, Fiona Douglas, founder of the Scottish design studio Bluebell Gray, famous for its exquisite watercolour florals, tells Melissa about her adventures in colour – and why the future has never been brighter…

Your watercolour florals are beautiful. How did you start designing them for the home? 
I’ve always loved home things. As a teenager I begged my mum and dad to let me paint my room bright lime green and orange, and I covered the walls in all sorts of things and pictures I had made – flowers featured everywhere. Our home growing up was colourful and full of interesting things, so I think interiors have always been something that has been around me. My prints are usually quite large scale so they lend themselves well to interiors. When I was starting out, cushions seemed like the best, and simplest, way for me to transfer my designs on to textiles.

Where did the name Bluebellgray come from?
Bluebells are my favourite flowers. I love seeing them carpet a beautiful wood in springtime, and they always make my heart happy. The word ‘gray’ refers to the fact that I print on to a lot of linen cloth that has a grey tone to it.

How does colour make you feel? 
It really uplifts me, and it definitely affects my mood. I love using it in a positive way. Wearing something colourful reflects me and what I do; it’s an important part of who I am. So much of my identity is wrapped up in colour – it’s a big part of my life.

Where do you find your design inspiration?  
I find inspiration everywhere. I love just soaking up experiences and the world around me. It could be something as simple as looking at the leaves in the light on trees that line my street, the colour of the ocean when I’m on holiday, or the colours that are left over on my palette when I paint that feeds my creative mind. I do plan specific inspiration trips as well, though. I usually go somewhere twice a year with my creative team to spark some new ideas and feel inspired.

Describe your design studio.
It’s in a beautiful old townhouse in the West End of Glasgow, with huge ceilings, lots of period detailing and big double-aspect windows that let in lots of light. The space I work in is really important to me and how I work. I need light and space and walls to hang images. I love having inspirational things around me; it all feeds in creatively. The floors are whitewashed wood and the walls are painted in various colours that change quite frequently depending on what I’m working on. We often do our photo shoots in the studio as it’s such a beautiful space, so we always need to freshen the colours. Right now I have a deep dusty rose-pink wall and an amazing deep, almost cobalt blue, on the walls.

Do you have a favourite Bluebellgray product? 
The ‘Abstract’ design always has a special place in my heart. It was so new at the time when I launched it; there was nothing else like it around and it’s become the design people really associate with the brand, which is lovely. The punchy colours and fun nature of the design really sum up my design style.

Abstract design

How much has colour made its way into your wardrobe?
My wardrobe is absolutely filled with colour! I adore clothes. I wear colourful things every day. I actually had my colours done a few years ago and I’m a Summer, which fits me so well as I love pinks, blues and turquoises. I wear a lot of blue jeans and then colourful tops and jackets. I usually add a colourful bag and earrings too – that’s my go-to look. I have a jumper I got given as a gift recently which is an amazing aqua blue – it looks hand-knitted and has big belled-shaped sleeves. It’s a really special piece that a love wearing.

Colour is everywhere right now, from homeware to fashion. Do you feel beige has had its day? 
I think the amazing thing about this point in time is that there are so many options for people! When I was in my late teens/early twenties it was right in the middle of the trend for minimalism and everything being black. I really struggled finding my clothing identity as I just couldn’t find what I wanted to wear; it just didn’t exist. The thing I love so much about now and the trend for colour is that it’s given people options and choices, there is no one overriding trend, so people can choose from an amazing variety of colours and designs that are on the market.

I’m just so happy that there is so much colour out there to choose from in homeware and fashion. It really lets people choose things that make them happy. I don’t think people will ever want to go back to times of less choice and colour. I think it’s here to stay.

 

Last great colourful buy?
I bought a beautiful Anya Hindmarch tote bag. It was an investment but I use it almost every day and the colour works with everything in my wardrobe.

And finally, do you have a favourite colour? 
I find it so hard to choose just one! I love pink, blue and turquoise all equally and in all their shades.

Inside the Studio – by Melissa

While the rest of the world has been focused on what to wear on holiday this summer, here at Kettlewell we’ve been busy concentrating on what they will be wearing next Autumn. Over the past weeks, we’ve been putting the finishing touches to our A/W17 collection ready for the upcoming photo shoot in early summer, as well as making headway with S/S18.

That’s the nature of fashion – always a couple of seasons ahead. The endless pursuit of fresh new looks is what I love about this industry, and I must admit that tracking them down has become something of an obsession of mine over the years. Nowadays, when I’m out shopping, it’s less about me and what I want to wear, and much more about sourcing potential styles and fabrics that I think our customers might like. I’ll feel all the fabrics, inspect all the labels and try as many clothes on as I have the energy for.

I’ve also been known to subtly take a snapshot of a print someone is wearing in front of me in a queue, and wherever I go – whether it’s a party, out on the street, on the Tube – I’ll go up to strangers and talk to them about their clothes and have a good look at the label. You can imagine how much my children love that!

As anyone who works in fashion retail will tell you, building a new collection is a long and complex journey, from inception to delivery. For us, the creative process starts with research on a shopping expedition – a shop report, where we check what’s currently in the stores and look at fabrics, shapes, necklines, prints and styles. There’s also a trend report, where our designer, Sarah, will create mood boards based on trends relevant to Kettlewell. After we’ve considered which designs will work in our available fabric groups, the sketching begins in earnest, before specs (measurement and detail specifications) are then sent to our factories to produce samples.

Naturally, being Kettlewell, colour is a huge consideration for us, and each season we’ll select 80 new colours, 20 each for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. As we already have so many colours (150 at the last count), we will literally spend hours poring over the Pantone books and consultant swatches, searching for fabulous new colours that we haven’t done before (Winters are the hardest to achieve as they have to be spot-on: intense and vibrant or icy and sharp, with no shades in between). We’ll also look at best-selling colours and good neutrals, and consider customer requests and online comments.

And then, of course, I’m also continually photographing colours on my travels, taking inspiration from everything around me, from a pebble or a strand of seaweed on the beach to blossom on a branch or the rooftops of Rome. Colour inspiration, as I have come to learn over the years, can come from the unlikeliest of places – you just have to go out looking for it.

Get summer ready: new colours, new styles

Not quite feeling summer ready yet? If your wardrobe needs a little helping hand, look no further than Kettlewell’s new summer styles.

The Helena blouse will give an instant pretty update to your wardrobe. Pair it with slim jeans and ballet pumps for a pub lunch or smarten it right up with a pencil skirt. The longer length back is ideal if you are less than confident about your rear view, and for perfecting the half tucked front.

Bright and breezy, with just the right amount of neckline detail, the Pippa top will be your go-to sleeveless top this summer. Throw it on over chino shorts, or go for cropped trousers and a blazer for work.

 

Definitely the easiest to wear top you’ll find this summer. The Charli top, available in a range of sorbet-brights and with the perfect level of lightness and drape. Don’t be put off by the slightly boxy look of this top – the cut and fabric combine to make a top that skims and flatters rather than clings.

 

Say hello to the Darcey range! A revamped set of basics for your wardrobe, these essentials will see you through every possible clothing emergency, and come in a range of brights and neutrals to cover every eventuality. 3/4 sleeves flatter 99% of body shapes and work conveniently well for in between British weather.

You can’t beat a plain cotton t-shirt. The fabric of Kettlewell’s new 100% cotton t-shirts is incredibly soft, far more pleasurable to wear than old fashioned crunchy thick cotton tees. This long sleeved version will pair perfectly with relaxed jeans or chinos and flats for transition season style.