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Spectrum (Victoria and Albert Museum)

Heritage Patterns and Colours

Ros Byam Shaw


A visual analysis of the colours used in furnishing fabrics and wallpapers from the 15th century to now, providing inspiration for designers

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This simply structured and highly original book analyses the palettes that have been used by designers in the creation of furnishing fabrics and wallpapers from the 15th century to the present. The colours used in each pattern are presented in a simple proportional grid, giving a clear understanding of hues that have been expertly combined at different periods to create the designs we continue to admire and emulate.

Spectrum opens with a brief introduction by interior design expert Ros Byam Shaw, exploring the history of colour as used in interiors. The fabrics and wallpapers that follow are arranged chronologically. Each is reproduced on its own double-page spread, and is accompanied by a brief narrative-style caption that provides information about each fabric or wallpaper and its significance in the context of interior design. Unique in such a book are the colour grids shown beside each pattern, in which the colours in the original piece are shown in proportion to their use, and with their CMYK references to enable designers to replicate these colours in their own work.

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'A great decorating source for understanding the history of colour'
ELLE Decoration

'A fascinating insight into what makes a compelling design, and how our palette returns time and again to certain combinations'
Town & Country

'This valuable sourcebook is a fascinating visual history of colour'
House & Garden

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 24.0 x 18.5 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 117

Publication date: 15 September 2022

ISBN: 9780500480823

Contents List

15th century
16th century
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
21st century
Further reading

About the Author

Ros Byam Shaw is a freelance journalist who writes on design and interiors for The World of Interiors and House and Garden. She is the author of Farrow & Ball Living with Colour (2010) and Farrow & Ball Decorating with Colour (2013) along with numerous other books on historic houses and interiors.