Material Lab is open by appointment only, servicing the construction industry. Find out more

Design Life: Marianne Shillingford


For our latest Design Life we’re delighted to feature Marianne Shillingford. After starting her own business at the age of 20, signwriting and painting, Marianne has built her career around paint.

Now working as Creative Director of Dulux and as the Design Director for the Dulux Design Service, she works closely with interior designers, decorating professionals, design makers and colour experts on a daily basis, as well as maintaining an active role in the design process with projects of all sizes.

In the latest of our Design Life interviews, we find out more about what inspires Marianne’s work.


What three things can’t you be without when designing?

"Paint, brushes and a good surface."

If you had to pick one, what is your favourite material?

"Silly question…paint! Paint has magical transformational powers and bursts with creative possibilities for anyone who uses it, from architects and designers to artists, decorators and well, everyone. It can be dusted, layered, dripped, textured, chucked, washed, rolled, spattered, sprayed, poured, cracked, baked and frozen. I could go on and on.

"The technology that goes into paint blows me away too and our magnificent chemists at AkzoNobel are the truly unsung lab-coated heroes of this amazing industry. They quietly design paints that are twenty times tougher, reflect more light, resist bacteria, fire and the heavy wear of everyday life and they have created the best water-based super low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) products that are an absolute joy to use."


What project that you have been involved with are you most proud of?

"I’m hoping that there are going to be lots more in the future but the one that I look back at and think, ‘crikey, did I really pull that off?’, was a project which involved the design and installation of a colourful living floral carpet in Trafalgar Square. It was made up of over 50,000 plants that all had to look magnificent at the same precise moment for one day."

"The traffic was stopped and articulated lorries full of gardeners unloaded the work in hundreds of living tiles, which they pieced together like a jigsaw from 2am till 6am in the morning. It had been raining solidly for weeks in the run up to the event but on the big day the sun shone magnificently and the only clouds in the crystal clear blue sky where ‘Simpsons’ clouds which added to the surreal nature of a truly wonderful day. Hard work, masses of planning, good design, brilliant suppliers and a huge amount of luck – with the one thing that you can’t control."

What project do you wish you had been involved with?

"The design for Battersea Power Station and every installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. I love big scale and ambitious projects that transform the places we often overlook and take for granted."


And what is next on the agenda for you or what upcoming work are you most excited about?

"We have the 2015 Colour Awards coming up and some really exciting collaborative projects in the pipeline that I will shout about when they begin. We also have a brand new professional colour fan deck for Dulux Trade with 600 extra colours on its way and the Dulux Trade Paint Expert website and digital tools, plus the amazing Visualiser app continue to redefine the way architects and designers choose colour."

Marianne is currently taking part in our Instagram Takeover, sharing her daily inspirations, and providing a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the latest projects by Dulux. Follow here.