Home & Design

A room painted Verdigris Green.

A room painted Imperial Purple.

A 19th-century handbook inspired the collection.

To celebrate the collection's launch, design firm Roman and Williams created an installation showcasing all 16 hues.

Living Color

Farrow & Ball’s new paint collection celebrates nature’s spectrum

A 19th-century color guide used by the likes of Charles Darwin has been brought back to life via Farrow & Ball’s new Colour by Nature collection. The 16-hue line was released last fall in collaboration with London’s Natural History Museum, which holds an early copy of the work, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, in its rare books library.

Based on shades found in nature, the 200-year-old handbook was assembled by Scottish painter Patrick Syme, who built off the findings of German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner. Syme carefully prepared his palette by deriving pigments from animals, plants and minerals; painting the colors on paper; and cutting and pasting them into the book by category. Darwin carried a copy on his famous HMS Beagle voyage, and scientists and artists still reference the guide today in pocket-sized versions printed by Smithsonian Books.

Farrow & Ball selected 16 hues straight from Syme’s pages to create Colour by Nature, which extends the brand’s timeless 132-color paint library. These shades include Emerald Green, which Syme culled from a “beauty spot on [the] wing of a teal drake,” and Imperial Purple, inspired by the inside of the saffron crocus flower.

Colors in the collection come in five interior finishes, each blended using the brand’s signature eco-friendly, water-based formula. Says Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball, “With the expertise of the Natural History Museum, we hope to inspire homes across the globe—and what better way to do that than with eco-friendly colors inspired by nature?” farrow-ball.com

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