Our History

In the beginning...

It all started in Dorset, back in 1946, with local pioneers John Farrow and Richard Ball. Farrow was a trained chemist who worked for Ireland’s Agnew Paints during the Second World War, while Ball was an engineer who survived capture as a prisoner of war.

They met at a local clay pit and together shared a passion for making rich colours to original formulations using only the finest ingredients. To launch their new endeavor back in 1946, Richard Ball and John Farrow turned to their wives, Ena Rose and Peggy, for help. With Ena Rose Ball in charge of accounts and Peggy Farrow designing the first logo Farrow & Ball was then well and truly on its way.

Important contracts were won

Together they built the first factory in Verwood, Dorset, and went on to supply paint for the Ford Motor Company, Raleigh Bicycles, the Admiralty and the War Office. 

But then, the fire

As the 1960s came to an end, John Farrow and Richard Ball sold their growing business to Norman Chappell. But soon after, a devastating fire destroyed much of the original factory.

And so, Farrow & Ball moved to its current home near Wimborne where we’ve crafted our paint and wallpaper ever since.

Our recipes remained

In the 1970s and 1980s, at a time when many began creating acrylic paints with fewer pigments and with added plastics, Farrow & Ball upheld its original recipes and age-old methods. Out of the limelight in rural Dorset we proudly retained our traditional identity.

A decade of firsts

It wasn’t until the 1990s that we saw our next period of change. Advisor on historic interiors, Tom Helme and corporate financier, Martin Ephson took on the company in the early 1990s. Under their leadership Farrow & Ball began to really grow, with a focus on restoring heritage properties with colours that were sympathetic to their era.

  • 1994 - We appointed our first independent stockist, Paint & Paper, who we still work with today
  • 1996 - Our first flagship showroom opened on the Fulham Road in Chelsea, London
  • 1997 - We began making artisanal wallpapers using traditional block and trough printing methods and real Farrow & Ball paints
  • 1999 - We opened our first overseas showroom in Toronto, quickly followed by Paris and New York
  • 1999 - We launched our website farrow-ball.com and stepped into the digital world 

We went green

In January 2010, we made the bold decision to move our entire range of oil based paints to eco-friendly water based finishes with low VOC (volatile organic compounds). From recyclable paint tins to our responsibly sourced wallpapers, making sure that our paint and paper is as kind as possible to the environment and the people who use them is at the heart of everything we do.

This was a forward thinking move, affirming our ongoing commitment towards helping the environment we live in, and once again putting us ahead of the competition.

Going digital

Embracing the digital world, we launched our Facebook page in 2010, which was closely followed by our TwitterInstagramPinterest and YouTube.

Next, we launched our online interiors magazine, The Chromologist and Inspiration site as inspirational hubs of colour. We’ve now hit over a million social media fans across our digital platforms and are thrilled to share our website with over 500,000 visitors each and every month.

Our colour consultancy goes global

In 2012 our in-home colour consultancy service went global. Our expert Colour Consultants are now on hand to share tailored design advice and to help transform your interiors in the comfort of your own home.

And today?

Today the unique Farrow & Ball look transforms modern and traditional homes, large and small, inside and out around the world. Even with more than 60 showrooms worldwide and a global network of stockists, we’ve never forgotten our local Dorset roots.