I had some time to kill whilst waiting for a friend in Chelsea the other day and having just seen an article about the newly opened Benjamin Moore showroom I realised I was on the very same street. So, naturally, I popped in to have a look.
This is the first showroom for the company in this country and it opened in October last year. It may be an unfamiliar name to some here in the UK but across the pond it has been a stalwart for decorators since 1883.
Founded by Irish born brothers Benjamin and Robert Moore in Brooklyn, New York the company was built on Benjamin's belief in "the exercise of intelligent industry in the spirit of integrity". Today the brand continues to manufacture to the highest quality and, along with a dedication to developing the most eco-responsible products possible, it's easy to see why Benjamin Moore paints are fast becoming the interior designer's favourite.
As if there weren't enough colours on the market already we've now got another 3,500 to choose from, spread over 6 collections. And 140 of them are white. Arghhh!!!!
So what makes this paint so special? Many people I know would snort in derision at the mention of 'colour technology' but it is what sets brands like this, along with favourites such as Farrow & Ball, apart. This is not your bog standard emulsion.
Without being too geeky about it, basically Benjamin Moore Paints use their own proprietary resins in the manufacturing process and it is something called Gennex waterborne colourants which give it the edge. Your typical colourants weaken the paint which then makes it thinner and more difficult to apply as well as making it more susceptible to colour fade over time. This one has the opposite effect, strengthening the paint giving it a highly durable finish and the ability to maintain depth of colour - particularly important when using externally. It also means better coverage which ultimately means using less paint. Good for the environment and, at £72.50 for 3.79l (1 US gallon), it works out well for your pocket too.
Ok, so that's the science bit. Back to the showroom. I had a lovely chat with Lisa who talked me through the different ranges and a bit about the brand's background. If you want to know any more than I've written here, she's your girl.
The showroom itself is a relatively small space but perfectly formed. It would be quite easy for someone like me to spend a good hour just staring at the wall of colour but there's also a desk area for looking at samples in more detail (and which also provides a handy seat while you try in vain to make a decision!). Downstairs there is an area which showcases each of the different finishes and which will eventually be used for talks and workshops. When I visited it was giving showroom manager Leo a quiet spot for lunch - I felt bad for interrupting!
As with other high-end paint brands Benjamin Moore prides itself on being 'unmatchable'. The mixing process is like a chef's secret recipe; taking a colour card to B&Q and asking them to match it will give you a similar colour but it won't be exact. If you want a Benjamin Moore colour, you have to use Benjamin Moore paint. It's as simple as that. Unlike choosing the darn colour in the first place!
Benjamin Moore Chelsea is now open at 263 Fulham Road, London SW3 6HY. Tel: 020 7351 1489
Sample pots are available at £6.50 for 0.43l (1 US pint).