Inspiring colour editorial from MIX Magazine


We're always looking for new ways to keep connecting the world with colour, and as part of this commitment, we'll be sharing a new series of inspiring colour-focused interviews and features from MIX Magazine



On colour...Jackie Piper

A chance discovery of an old colour dictionary in a charity shop inspired art and design team Jackie Piper and Victoria Whitbread to re-establish a long forgotten brand.

The team at our creative agency, Colour Hive talked to Piper about the undeniable lure of old colour charts.

Falling out of use by the mid 1950’s, British Colour Standard (BCS) could have loitered in dusty archives or on old bookshelves had it not been for Piper and Whitbread’s enthusiasm.


It was like finding a bit of buried treasure. The original system was just crying out to be turned into a paint collection. Birds, plants, flowers, minerals and semi-precious stones all formed the inspiration for the dictionary’s creation; it really was a thing of beauty.


These discovered palettes appealed to both Piper and Whitbread because instead of referencing stately homes, the colours from the original dictionary were previously used in schools, making the palettes infinitely more relatable and inclusive.


The original mission of BCS was to not just decorate a posh house but to find a way that colour could really help improve environments at other levels of society, not just the top. Schools, hospitals, village halls, factories; all had certain colours that worked better with the lighting of the time. I think British Colour Standard was a really socially useful and inspiring endeavour.




However, bringing back over 400 shades, all needing to be scanned from the original dictionary by a digital colour reader, was something of a challenge. With the initial paint collection being just over 60 colours the pair's intention is to eventually reintroduce the whole collection with the vision that BCS will become a go-to for colour in the home.

Colour selection was tricky, however both Piper and Whitbread who have previously worked for Pantone, spent time absorbing current trends, key shows, and following their instincts as both the consumer and designer. Breakthroughs in digital spectro-metres also played a huge in the success of this endeavour.


In terms of accuracy, we would not have been able to accurately scan to such a high-level all the hundreds of colours in the original books. The material was never digital and of course now it’s crucial that it is. Otherwise it can’t be used across multiple platforms and programmes.




When it came to building the brand, accessories and homewares came first as this sector was the pair’s main area of experience and expertise, followed by the paint collection. Previously the pair ran a successful company developing licensed product collections for notable brands including Pantone, Disney, London Transport and English Heritage. However, the duo was looking to move into developing their own brand.


After lots of research it became apparent that BCS was out of use. That meant we could trademark the original logo, scan and digitise the colours (which have never been used before) and re-establish the brand.




Moving forward, Piper and Whitbread are looking to take the brand beyond the UK; initially into Europe and then on to the USA, as well as facilitating BCS as an open-source system for everyone to use. 


Feeling inspired?

As always, from colour forecasting to colour matching, coating and distribution, we are here for all of your colour needs, let's talk.


MIX Magazine is a quarterly print and digital publication by our creative agency, Colour Hive and available as part of Colour Hive membership



The Duha Group is a global, industry leading manufacturer of innovative colour marketing tools. We specialise colour strategy, colour matching, colour mass reproduction and colour system management.


Image credits from top:

All British Colour Standard