Behind The Nordic Edit with Jannik Martensen-Larsen

Written on 4th February 2021

It’s been two years since we launched The Nordic Edit, a timeless palette of 24 shades that celebrate Scandinavia and its unmistakable design style. Safe to say, it’s proven very popular and remains as relevant today, as it was then. After all, when you combine our pigment-rich paint with such an iconic inspiration, the result was always going to be something special.

To mark the birthday of this wonderful selection of colours, we’re catching up with the man who scoured our signature palette and Archive to put them all together: Jannik Martensen-Larsen, head of Danish design house, Tapet-Café. From his favourite shade to why he doesn’t follow trends, and even his top tips for using the palette, read on to find out about the man behind the edit.

How did the collaboration come about?

Having worked with Farrow & Ball for over 20 years I know the colour palette really well, but I have seen other clients and designers in Scandinavia finding it less easy to navigate. I wanted to create a tool for my market, an easy-to-work-with edit of colours that has variety, but also a limit, and I wanted to be courageous with the tones.

I think Scandinavia represents so much more than the greys, whites and colder tones we’ve been known for in past years, and it makes so much sense to me to combine the richness, the sophisticated look, and the wonderful quality of Farrow & Ball paints with my more “modern Scandinavian take” on colour.

What made you want to create a Scandinavian edit of colours?

With this modern take, I really wanted to show our market what it is you can do with Farrow & Ball colours, especially the Archive, so I’ve curated an edit that can be used in super-modern Scandinavian homes but also the more classic and traditional rooms that are typical of our countries.

The Nordic Edit is not supposed to be a selection of colours that are trendy right now. I like to mix and play with colours and patterns – I prefer not to follow too many rules, and I don’t really want to follow trends either. Instead, I want a timeless edit of colours that has its inspiration and use in Scandinavia, a tool for the future that looks backwards but also forwards.

India Yellow and Down Pipe
Down Pipe Dining Room

Left - Walls: India Yellow No.66 in Estate Emusion, Right - Walls: Down Pipe No. 26 in Estate Emulsion

What are your top tips for using colour in the home?

Overall, I think that designing interiors is about looking at the actual room and the nature of the architecture, whether the rooms are classic or modern, considering who is going to live there… Look at the home as one full canvas and try to make the most of it by being creative, courageous, generous, and personal with your colour choices.

Stick to your idea consistently

If you choose a specific woodwork colour or ceiling colour, make sure that you apply it throughout the home for a cohesive feel. It doesn’t have to just be a bright white!

Don’t be afraid of using a dark tone

One of the most common questions I get is “don’t you think the room will become very closed and small if I use a dark tone?” Very often the exact opposite happens – somehow a dark tone can create so much drama and atmosphere that it can get an almost infinite look. Walls full of art also look beautiful with dark tones. Try Railings, Grate Black, Monkey Puzzle or Serge.

Consider your accent colours carefully

When using an intense colour in a room it is essential to carefully consider the accent colour. You could try combining Monkey Puzzle with Hardwick White or Tunsgate Green. If you want a rich, earthy look, try Etruscan Red or Grate Black with Wall White. Have fun, be playful, and don’t worry about sticking to “the rules”.

Use what you already have

If you have a room with some old colourful tiles and you don’t want to spend a fortune by renovating completely – or can’t, if you’re renting – then try instead to create a fun look by playing with the architecture that’s already there instead of struggling against it. Find a deep tone from The Nordic Edit that matches the old tiles, or woodwork, or other fittings. This will look like everything is well planned and give you a contemporary look instead of a tired, dated one.

Don’t forget your exterior

With spring coming up, you can paint wooden or metal garden furniture in some beautiful colours. Try refreshing a garden bench with the Swedish Øland stone colour Pantalon and combining with the brownish black Grate Black. Always use darker tones than you think outside. A colour that seems very dark inside, somehow can seem very pale in the strong Scandinavian light.

The Nordic Edit

Which shades are your personal favourites and why?

I love them all, but I can definitely say that in the most important building in my life – our home – I have used Railings, India Yellow, Hardwick White and Strong White a lot. In fact, I use Strong White and Hardwick White a lot in general – as well as Light Blue – as neutrals.

A colour I’ve recently begun using quite often is Serge, a stunning blue that I’ve been inspired to use by mid-century artists. And my favourite green is now Danish Lawn – the colour is just so striking.

What do you love about Farrow & Ball?

I find the quality of Farrow & Ball paints unique. The richness and depth of the tones stands out, and I love the fact that a red is not just a red, or a blue a typical blue. All tones are “in-betweens” – very sophisticated. Even the brighter tones reflect a mood and a different intensity.

Railings Living Room

Left - Walls: Mere Green No.216 in Estate Emusion; Ceiling: Arsenic No.214 in Estate Emulsion. Right - Walls: Railings No.31 in Estate Emulsion

Do you have an all-time favourite Farrow & Ball colour?

Very difficult, but maybe Light Blue.


Do you feel that Scandinavian tastes are changing when it comes to interior design and colour?

I do believe that we in Scandinavia are too trend driven, and I want to make up for that with this colour card. I didn’t want it to be typical 2021 style, but more a useful and timeless colour tool that will hopefully last. I wanted a certain look – an edition that could have been made 10 years ago, but also in 10 years’ time. This is why it was such a great opportunity to look into the Archive – there is so much treasure there, and great potential.


Who are your top design influences?

I am very inspired by Danish mid-century artists like Vilhelm Lundstrum, Willumsen and Franciska Clausen. I also love Josef Frank, Matisse, Fernand Leger, Alexander Calder and current Danish artists like Tal R.

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