I have been a colour forecaster for over 20 years. After graduating from Chelsea College of Art, I worked in a Textile Design studio, as the knitwear designer. I found that I loved the process of creating new ideas more than I did the garment design. I then began working as an independent colour consultant to high street brands, creating seasonal mood boards and colour direction.
Several clients asked if I could create a trend book so, while I was on maternity leave, I made the first Luminary Colour book, by hand. It is now a biannual inspirational colour bible. The 20th edition – Autumn/Winter 2020 – comes out this February. It sells to brands like M&S, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Ercol Furniture, and Anthropologie, whose design teams use it in their planning.
I travel somewhere different for each season and use photography to gather colours and ideas. I’m constantly taking photographs on my iPhone or with my camera. I don’t use too much equipment – I like shooting with natural light – and find that my Nikon D810 gives me a real vibrancy of colour. I also collect treasures as I go along. It could be anything: a piece of fabric, a little bowl which is a beautiful colour. I use these items like a colour recipe, and work closely with a dye house to match each shade onto Luminary Colour fabric swatches.
Each Luminary book contains 60 new colours, matched to both fabric and paper for perfect technical colour communication within the design industry. The photography and storytelling brings these colours to life for my clients. I suggest how to use each in a fashion sense, in an interior sense, the different proportions, what should be the main colour, and what to use as accents. Then I look at different surfaces and textures to show how they change through creating still life photographic images.
I enjoy this aspect of my work more and more, and increasingly work with brands to plan future colour directions and to visualise the products through photography. I recently worked with the Dualit brand, creating a colour range called New Neutrals. I loved both designing the colours, as well as styling and photographing the campaign.
Ten years ago, I wrote a consumer book called The Colour Scheme Bible: a manual for home decorators on how to put colours together. It’s stood the test of time, selling nearly half a million copies worldwide, inspiring both the at-home decorator and those in the design industry.
My latest book, Love Colour, is full of useful and practical advice, and it uses inspiring photography of beautiful homes from around the world to spark ideas. We can be overwhelmed by the colour choices on offer, and so Love Colour suggests ways to be a little more confident with colour at home. Go out and collect colours that you love, take photographs, make mood boards. Find your inspiration and then create a home in which you love to live.
As told to Lizzie Lower
Luminary Colour is available through specialist Trend Book Agencies.
Love Colour is published by Ivy Press.