Using colour in the home; a Demonstration by Designers Guild

On Friday 20th November, Claire & Sally from Designers Guild visited our Cambridgeshire showroom to give a demonstration of their paints and to show how to co-ordinate them with their fabrics and wallpapers.
The day was very inspirational indeed! We learnt a lot about colour co-ordinating, current trends and the difference between ‘warm’ ‘cool’ and ‘clear’ colours and how they should be used in the home to create different effects.
Although there are no strict ‘rules’ when adding colour to your home – ultimately your choice is down to personal taste and your level of confidence you have using certain colours / styles! Here at Barker & Barker, we believe that your home should be an expression of your own personality and you should create moods for spaces that you really want to live in. However, Designers Guild had some tips that should be used as a guide and Claire from DG described them very well.
To summarise quickly, they separate their paint colours into 3 groups

  1. Cool
  2. Clear
  3. Warm

These can create different effects in different rooms. For example, if you have a room that is dark and doesn’t get much sunlight, try using a ‘warm’ colour to create a lighter effect in the room.

They then separate the groups into neutrals and Brights.

Cool Neutrals – have blue or grey tones. They work well in light-filled rooms.
Warm Neutrals – have a creamy yellow-tinged base and add depth and warmth to a room. Good to use in north facing rooms.
Clear Neutrals – provide a flat wash of true colour, use them anywhere for a crisp finish.
Cool Brights – provide a lively vibrant finish and work well in light-filled rooms.
Warm Brights – these are richer in their base tone and have a warm depth and strength of colour.
Clear Brights – crisp and with a well defined clarity. They work well everywhere.

It really is amazing how many different shades of white and grey (Cool Neutrals) there are – it’s only when you see them in different rooms and next to different fabrics that you realise this and can actually see the difference!

Claire & Sally bought along some beautiful fabrics and wallpapers to demonstrate this with great effect, there were many ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ when different colour paints were also introduced!



The afternoon was continued with the chance for everyone to put what had learnt into practice by creating mood boards using various Designers Guild paint and fabric samples.


Many people commented on the fact they now felt braver with colour and felt more confident to use bolder shades, knowing they can co-ordinate it with a calmer fabric or wallpaper and their mood boards certainly reflected this!
And after so much creativity everyone was rewarded with delicious cakes!


We would like to thank Sally & Claire from Designers Guild for giving us the presentation – it was a real insight into how the paints are created and provided everyone with lots of ideas to take home and put into practice. The afternoon was such a success we are hoping to hold more paint workshops in the New Year. If you missed out this time, watch this space for further announcements!



Tina Hyacinth

Creating a new fabric collection – Part 2, Fabric Books

Last time we gave a bit of an insight into how Janet creates a new collection and how she chooses the colours. This week we will talk about the creative process involved in making the fabric books.

This is a much bigger task than it sounds! The fabric books are used to sell the fabrics via our stockists and distributors and so need to be not only a representation of the collection, but also Barker & Barker as a brand.
The books need to draw you in and take you on a story through colour and design. The finished books need to catch your eye and encourage browsers to turn the pages, and engage with our products.

Walk into any interior design studio or fabric shop in Cambridge and you will be met with rows upon rows of fabric books- it can sometimes be quite overwhelming! The trick is to create something that will stand out, show the fabrics in the best possible way and ultimately be the most memorable.

The design of the books begins on the cutting table in the studio. After receiving the final colours and designs of the fabrics from the mill, it is a case of matching colours and different designs. The lead fabric in our new collection ‘Dierama’ had already been chosen but what colour was to be the lead?

Janet has to group the fabrics in colours and then make a decision as to the order. Janet had to use her creative eye again to decide which designs sit better next to one another so that the colours flow.

Making sure colours compliment each other is very important. The colour spectrum helps us to use colours effectively, making sure we show complimentary opposites to their full potential. For example, blue and orange are complimentary opposites, as are red and green.

Colour Wheel
Another important thing to consider is the design and repeat of the fabrics. This can be difficult to show in fabric books- it would be lovely to have books that show the full repeat of some of our fabrics, but they would end up being too big! Janet had to choose the part of the design as a representation of what the rest of fabric looks like. They then have to be positioned in a way to show the maximum amount of the design in a smaller scale.

Once the layout had been decided it was time to get a bit more creative! The easiest way to show our book producers exactly what the books should look like, is to make a mock up.
This involved a lot of cutting and sticking and labeling- the showroom resembled the Blue Peter studio for a while but it was for an important cause! The layout of a fabric book should take you on a journey through the colours and designs of the fabrics. They should show which designs and colours co-ordinate and sit well together. They should also give the buyer extra options, ideas and inspiration about what would look good in their interior.

We have people in our showroom who say they are looking for one thing, see our fabric books and then choose something completely different because of how the fabrics have been presented in the book!

Once the book makers have received our mock up, they start work on their own mock up.

Here is one we had made recently for our Best of Europa / Premier book and also a first look at the new Dierama book in its mock up form.

It’s a little rough around the edges but its always an exciting moment as it means we are a big step closer to seeing the finished product. The fabrics will all be in place, sealed and stepped in the right order and labeled with the names and compositions.
Then it is a case of proof reading and checking everything down to the smallest detail (we wont bore you with those!) and choosing the imagery.

We will talk more about the imagery in the final installment of this series next week (and maybe even show you the full collection!)

lana porcelain

Creating a new fabric collection – how we do it!

As the build up to our latest collection gains momentum, we thought we would give our readers a bit of an insight into the different stages of the creation of a fabric collection. What you see in interior design and fabric shops is the final product – the pattern books, displays and swatches, but we want to show you what goes in to the whole process.

Our lead designer Janet draws inspiration from her surroundings and travels. As mentioned in our previous posts, Janet regularly sketches whilst she is out and about. She is nuts on design and is constantly developing and discarding ideas! Anything from an interesting flower, the shape of a leaf or the movement of a feather can get the creative juices flowing and gives her ideas or themes for new designs. However, as all artists know, the creative process isn’t always black and white.

Our latest collection features soft following flowers, butterflies and dragonflies as well as beautiful Ombre’ co-ordinates and Upholstery grade fabrics . All have very fluid movements and so create a calm feeling. The collection is called ‘Dierama’ which is the Latin for the flower ‘Angels Fishing Rod’ featured as in the lead fabric of the collection.

Angels Fishing Rod
Dierama Ice Blue

After this design was chosen as the lead fabric, the rest of the designs then followed and the collection began to build.
Once the designs had been drafted, it was time to choose the colours. We are lucky here at Barker & Barker to have very good working relationship with our English based mills who we work closely with during this creative process.
A fun part of this process is of course the colours! Our mills produce ‘Colour Blankets’ for us. These are lengths of our fabric featuring our design that covers the whole colour spectrum. Although this is the fun part, it is also the most agonizing in chosing the right colour.
We study trends past and present to see how the collection will sit in the market but we also want to be at the forefront of trend and be ‘Distinctly Different’ (which is our strap line!). Getting the balance right between past trends and innovation for the future is really hard and exciting at the same time. We are not a ‘run of the mill’ (sorry for the awful pun!)
We have also worked really hard on the durability of our ranges without compromising their feel to ensure they can be used for a variety of settings well into the future.
Anyway, back to the blankets! The colour blankets are fabulous! They really are like a technicolour dream coat and you can always hear ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’ coming from the studio when they are delivered! This is what our design ‘Odonata’ looked like as a colour blanket. You will have to wait until the full launch to see the final chosen colours!

Odonata Colour Blanket

Each blanket features the design in its full repeat but with various different colour combinations running through it. The difference between a fabric that has ‘Natural’ warp as apposed to ‘beige’ or a ‘Black’ warp in considerable. It changes the appearance of the lead colour and can create a whole new look to the design so the decision often comes down to ‘on Natural?’ ‘On Beige?’ or ‘on Black?’. The difference may be subtle to some but for us the difference can literally make all the difference. One thing that Janet wanted to achieve with the collection is longevity.
The main colours used in the collection are soft pink, blue, and yellow pastel shades- all key colour interior trends for 2016. However, she wanted to create some contrast as well. The result of this is the same designs in monochrome colour ways. Shades of grey, black beige and cream give the typically feminine flower designs a real masculine feel especially when they are combined with an almost metallic Ombre co-ordinate. Who said flowers were just for girls?!

Luxor Colour Blanket

As you can see from the next image, the blankets do not look very pretty for long! Once a decision is made, the exact colour choice is cut from the blanket and sent back to the mill to show them the final colour of the fabric.

Cut Colour Blanket

Janet had to choose 8 colours from this blanket – not any easy task but she got there in the end with fantastic results.
After this process we have the first look and feel of what the collection will look like. There is usually yarn all over the studio and cuttings of fabric everywhere (very organized chaos!!) but it means when the mills begin weaving the fabrics, we can begin to think about the story our pattern books will tell.
Find out how we do this in our next blog, which will explain how our books are made to make them work best for you.