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Marianne Shillingford

Used cleverly, the right paint can encourage the users of our spaces to relax, socialise, be more active and sleep better, the creative director of Dulux tells Stu Robarts


As the creative director for Dulux in the UK, Marianne Shillingford is an authority on the power of colour, but her focus is often on the way it can make us feel and behave as much as the aesthetic value of different colour schemes.

“A lot of our research is about creating palettes of colours and working with lighting designers, flooring designers and architects on paint design and product design to create palettes of colours that really enhance wellbeing,” she says.

“Wellbeing can be about having somewhere where you get a chance to be comfortable and de-stress – so those kinds of colours can be soft and soothing – but it can also be about colours that invite people to get together and chat, or about re-energising colours.”

Much of the work carried out by Shillingford and her team at Dulux involves designing palettes and recommending products for different sectors based on what the desired outcome is, rather than just the desired aesthetic.

She explains: “In the sports and fitness category, it’s key to have durable surfaces for heavy wear and a colour scheme that helps to enhance and promote energy levels in different workout spaces – to motivate and stimulate in the gym and to calm and relax in the yoga studio.

“In a hotel, the needs will be a little different, although durability will be key and the aesthetic will be working much harder to establish a unique look and feel, to stimulate appetite in the restaurant, relaxation in the lounge areas and restful sleep in bedrooms.”

Not only are colour palettes and paint properties chosen based on sectors, they are specifically created for them. “Each of our colour ranges has been designed with specific sectors in mind from education to leisure, with a richness of research that can positively affect how people feel and respond in a space,” she says. “This occupant-centred approach to designing colours and products gives professionals a hugely valuable tool in creating spaces that are much more than beautiful and practical.

“Our paints and coatings contain different technologies that suit the demands of specific projects and surfaces. They provide a range of sustainable solutions like super durability that increases the decorating lifecycle and saves costs on maintenance, high light reflectance that saves energy and enhances the appearance of space, and thermal properties that help to reduce heating costs.

“The technology involved in paint is extraordinary. It’s a smart product now.”

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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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Last word: Marianne Shillingford
The research showing how the right paint colour can influence how people use leisure spaces @duluxuk @m_shillingford
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