As the quietly bold natural paint company opens its doors to its new home in Bath, and with it a new collection, Atelier Ellis founder Cassandra Ellis talks to Jessica Jonzen about new beginnings, the importance of nesting and why there is more to colour than meets the eye
CASSANDRA ELLIS AT THE NEW ATELIER ELLIS TOWNHOUSE IN BATH. IMAGE: ELLEN CHRISTINA HANCOCK
Your new collection of nine paints is aptly called ‘Beginnings’ and speaks to this new chapter in your life and business – your move to Bath and the opening of your new Atelier Ellis townhouse. Can you tell us more about the new colours and the meanings behind them?
I think this collection is my favourite. My family, as well as I personally and professionally, was looking for a different life. Freedom, beauty and quietness. Bath has always been a place we came back to again and again. It’s a beautiful walkable city, and so very easy and enjoyable to live in. So, some of the new colours are an ode to Bath. Others are about birds – or what birds mean to me – which is freedom and the incredible positivity of nesting and re-nesting.
Each of your paint collections is deeply personal. How do your experiences and emotions manifest themselves as colours?
I read a lot! And apparently think way too much about these things. I am very, very interested in humanity: why we live how we live, what we create and what we seek. Collections come from lots of thoughts, words and images circling. So sometimes an individual colour sets the theme, or sometimes an idea manifests into a collection idea. ‘Beginnings‘ came from both my love for birds and freedom.
How long does it take you to develop a new paint collection?
Sometimes 18 months, sometimes just a few months – but decades of living informs them all.
NEW SHADE ‘TAMAKI’ ON THE WALLS AT THE NEW ATELIER ELLIS TOWNHOUSE. IMAGE: ELLEN CHRISTINA HANCOCK
Your paints are known for their quiet yet rich qualities, acting as a backdrop to the lives being lived among them. What inspired you to establish your own brand in the first place?
I’ve always been most interested in why people choose to live how they do. A rich anthropological point of view rather than purely aesthetic. I’ve always made my own paint colours but then I realised that through the conduit of colour I was able to help people tell their own story of home. It brings me much joy.
How does your New Zealand heritage and upbringing influence your approach to colour and decorating?
In New Zealand our homes are more open to people, that you know and don’t know. When you meet someone new you ask them around to your house. Perhaps it speaks of historic settlers, but it’s just a really lovely way of getting to know people. A glass of wine around your own table with new and old friends is a delight. New Zealanders are complex mixtures of cultures and class – perhaps that’s what is different?
What is your own home like?
We have just bought a new home, a Georgian townhouse in the centre of Bath. I don’t recommend buying a derelict house, setting up a new factory and a store in the space of five months but we just all feel incredibly happy here. The house is currently a disaster but will be beautiful one day. We prioritised restoring a bathroom so that we had one clean and beautiful space. Georgian flagstones, lime plaster and a wonderful clawfoot bath. We all gaze at it adoringly.
NEW COLOUR ‘LADY SUSAN.’ IMAGE: KALINA KRAWCZYK
Did you often redecorate your last home to try out new paint colours?
It depended on whether it was something I personally wanted at home. I think we all have our own personal palette and so making new colours is never about my own home, rather an exploration of hopes and ideas.
What are the things which are essential for you in your home?
An excellent cooker, knives, cutting boards and champagne glasses. Wonderful light, an enormous sofa and animals – lots of them.
What are your greatest design and aesthetic influences?
ROOMS AT THE ATELIER ELLIS TOWNHOUSE. IMAGES: ELLEN CHRISTINA HANCOCK
Atelier Ellis, 98 Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BG
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