Anna Starmer is recognised internationally for her passion for colour. Her ability to link creative colour selection with real lifestyle and market knowledge is what sets her apart. Anna founded Luminary Consultancy in London, she works as an independent creative director with many leading interior and fashion brands. Luminary Colour, is a seasonal colour forecasting book designed and created by Anna. It is a unique colour service, supplying accurate trends and technical colour swatches to designers and buyers worldwide. Luminary is sold through specialist agents and is hand made in the UK. ‘Luminary’ means ‘a person who inspires’ and this is what Anna aims to do through her publications and collaborations.
Q: What’s your favourite shade for Autumn 2015? Do you think you could ever pick an all-time favourite colour combination?
I do have a bit of a thing for really good pinks (we are not talking cerise or magenta)! As pink is very much on trend right now I am happy, my front door is even painted a beautiful shade of deep raspberry.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
I love that I am earning a living and being creative – I believe that to be very rare. I feel blessed to be able to fill my days with things I love, from taking photographs for my new books to travelling to inspiring parts of the world to gather ideas and colour inspiration. I love creating books. I believe that in our digital, fast-paced world, it is a great joy to sit down with an inspiring and beautiful book, something tactile and real. And finally, I love working with creative people in design, it is great to work with a brand leader or product designer who gets just as excited as me about a new idea, or a gorgeous new colour combination.
Q: What’s the hardest part?
It is hard sometimes to do so many different things in my day. When you are a creative and running a business it is hard to be everything. From writing to photography, colour matching to creating trend or mood boards – I might be working on 3 different seasons at once. Sometimes I am so focussed and excited on new ideas for future seasons, that it is hard to come back to earth and concentrate on key product direction for a client. I have to spend a lot of time with clients on timing of colour within a season, or making colour ‘maps’, to make sure that their retail environments offer colour choice, and new colour and trend across the season. Sometimes a really beautiful story just has to fall away, and that is a shame.
Q: Your Luminary books are so diverse, how do you go about researching and sourcing them?
Luminary is a book created to inspire designers. The book is focussed around 60 key colours per season, which I break down in to 6 colour combinations. I know the book is used in many different ways, by different clients. Luminary is bought by brands in the fields of fashion, interior and product design, lifestyle brands, cosmetics, packaging, foods and textiles/materials. After working as a colour and trend consultant to big retailers and brands for over 20 years, I understand what these guys need in order to get their jobs done!
More and more I am finding that designers and buyers have very little time to research new ideas, find new inspirations or simply have time to be creative (which is a terrible shame). This is tough! My role and my books fill that gap. I travel to new places, I photograph people who are interesting – from young kids outside TopShop to artists and musicians and even cool grannies! I shoot interesting homes and interiors, I also shoot in my studio, I visit galleries and get inspired by artists work. And I shop, and I visit cool cafes and restaurants – and I ask permission to feature interesting places in my books. Generally boutique owners are happy to be involved as it is great PR for them.
Then, at the beginning of the season I will gather together the hundreds of images I have collected and start to build some cohesive families with them, to find images, which look great together and begin to tell a story. I look for material and surface interest, which is what brings my colours to life. For instance, when I predicted pinks were coming back in to fashion in 2015, I wanted to talk about texture and tactility – pinks could only work if the surface was correct. I used the above of cashmere knits against a textured wall, to show my ideas, for hazy, blurry, woolly surfaces, melange and mixed colours creating beautiful inspiration for new pinks. There is also a colour cycle.
I am so entrenched in colour on the High Street and for brands, that I know what is selling well, I understand which colours work best for which product category. I can take this insider’s industry knowledge and use it to define what my new colours will be in 2 years time. I am a strong believer in working closely on my ‘foundation’ colours which are the backbone of any interior or wardrobe, from greys to neutrals to indigo, as well as the key fashion colours for the season.
Q: It is clear from your photography you travel – a lot! Where will you be heading for inspiration next?
Last year I took an amazing trip across India with my husband and my children ages 4 and 6. We travelled from North to South and had a real adventure. The photographs I gathered were exotic and colourful, inspiring and eccentric. I created a book for SS16 completely out of this trip. It was a book disconnected from what was happening in the industry or in the west, it was a book full of life and love and colour. I was nervous, as it was so unique, but the book completely sold out! My clients still talk about when that book landed on their desks and how it was a breath of fresh air – exactly what the industry needed in the middle of seasons of austerity greys and dark navy! I am travelling to Fez and Chefchaouen in Morocco in October. I love texture and pattern. I love rich surfaces and old, antiqued, weathered or patinated colours which emerge over time. I am hoping to find some beautiful places to photograph for my AW17 book.
Q: If you could revisit just one of the many places you have visited, where would it be?
I would like to return to India and continue travelling further north. I loved the blue city Jodhpur, and would like to carry on further in to the desert to Jaisalmer.
Q: With your wealth of experience consulting on colours and designs for your clients, how did you go about designing and colouring your own home?
It is very hard even for me to choose colours for my home. There is so much to consider, from space to light to flooring and furniture. I have written books on the theme, as I know it is a daunting prospect. “The Colour Scheme Sourcebook’ offers 200 inspiring colour palettes to the home decorator.
I live in a tall Victoria terrace, which was in need of complete renovation when we moved in 3.5 years ago. We started at the top and have been working our way down! I am currently designing the kitchen and dining area at the bottom of the house. I am lucky as the rooms in the house are big and we have high ceilings. I also live in a conservation area so I had to reinstate some of the original features like sash windows and black and white checked front path.
When designing a room I always create a mood board of found images and painted colours. I will paint A3 sheets of colours, stick them around the room and leave them there for a week – this way you can see the colour in different lights. I like to find antique fabrics to cover chairs or make cushion covers – and these can be an inspiration for a colour scheme.
My own taste is a mix of styles and a collection of treasures. In a way I guess that my interiors are a little like my books – a treasure trove of things found and displayed. Both my husband and myself are collectors and treasure hunters. For this reason, I chose a dark anthracite grey, almost black shade in the living room. This colour is the most gorgeous back ground for colourful objects and images. I had a large-scale floor to ceiling bookshelf built between the 2 fireplaces and this is filled with our books and treasures. My daughter’s room was very inspired by India. We bought some beautiful neon coloured paper stars in Kerala and they look wonderful displayed against a soft ochre yellow, with multi coloured antique patchwork Indian throws.
Q: What colour palette did you choose for you own personal bathroom?
My bathroom is dusted pinks and soft neutrals. It is warm, yet not too pretty. I have worked with a Spanish tile manufacturer creating tile colours, and I designed the floor tiles, and then matched my wall colours and tile grout to the tiles. Encaustic cement tiles have a lovely dusted, faded colour quality, which I love.
Q: What colours would you choose if you were painting the exterior of one of our bathtubs?
I have a cast iron roll top bath in my bedroom at the top of the house. I painted in Downpipe by Farrow and ball, which is a very dark almost black-grey. This is in direct contrast to the pale shades of limed oak on the floor and dove grey woodwork. The bath is on the 5th floor and looks out towards the South Downs – I love it!
Q: Which designer(s) are you most influenced by?
A hard question! I love the colour use of le Corbusier, simple, pared down and clever combinations, dusted and muted shades – and such a revolutionary with colour in his day. I get my inspirations from so many different places. I live very close to Charleston House, the home of the Bloomsbury set – and I feel that their beautiful hand painted interiors are very inspiring right now. I like the unique quality and the fun in the house – we could do with a bit more of that in our modern homes!
Q: If you could choose one particular period of design you would like to live in, when would it be?
Probably in the 1920’s. I am a sucker for a sweeping staircase, wood panelling and chinoiserie wallpaper and furnishings. I love the colours used from soft peaches to duck egg blues and eau de nil green, all framed with dark wood and lots of cut glass and crystal.
Q: If you could give just one piece of advice when colouring an interior space, what would it be?
Chose colours that you love! You have to live with your choice for a long time. It is great to find inspiration from magazines, books and the internet – but sometimes the amount of information out there can be overwhelming and confusing. Always go back to your own true tastes. Never be afraid of being your own person.
I find it best if I discover a pattern, a print, a painting or a piece of furniture, which I absolutely love – then create a colour scheme around that item. Despite trend, and changes in consumer tastes, and what the brands say we ought to like – we all have our own view of colour and design and we must try to remember our own tastes. This is what I say to my clients. Even though my job is to create new ideas and new colour schemes – we must never forget the essence of the brand we are working with, or the colours, which that brand have always loved and been associated with. This is the same in our own homes, build on what you love, be brave in accents and detail – as these can be changed easily if you fall out of love with them in 6 months time!
Q: Complete this sentence: Colour is…
Colour is infinite and different to each of us, colour is everywhere and in everything, from nature to man-made, from a birds wing to a plastic wrapper, from city to country, from day to night. The more I look at colour the more I love colour – colour changes and moves, it heightens and dulls, how could we ever be bored of such a thing?!
All images are shot by Anna Starmer and have been published in Luminary Colour and Trend, a bi-annual colour forecasting bible created and self-published by Anna Starmer. Anna Starmer is currently gathering ideas for a new interiors book on colour inspiration for the home.