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In conversation with Francesca Wezel, founder and director:

What is your background?
I was born in Milan. At the age of 20, I travelled to London to learn and study English and at the end of 1989 I moved to Sydney, Australia.

How did you become the #colourwoman?
By a stroke of pure chance and luck! In Sydney, I started working for Porter’s Paints, the only manufacturer of traditional paint finishes in Australia. This is where I discovered my talent for making and combining colours and textures and colour matching – I finally found what I wanted to do and be.

Since discovering my passion through Porter's Paints, I travelled the world looking for colours, their origins and their use.

When did you launch Francesca’s Paints?
After 7 years as colourist and manager of various Porter’s Paints shops throughout the Sydney suburbs, I returned to London. I launched Francesca’s Paints in November 1996 and we are one of the first eco-friendly paint companies in the UK. Eventually, we had to extend our ranges to include conventional paint (eco paints can’t be touched or scrubbed). We care greatly for our planet and are continually evolving our production techniques, colouring and packaging.

What do you love most about your work?
I am often told that when it comes to colours, I know exactly what my clients want – a wonderful compliment! I really understand colours and the mood and energies my clients associate with them. I am comfortable and at ease in making unique, elegant and naturally beautiful colours. I am passionate about this craft and process; transmitting joy through vibrant colours brings me so much happiness.

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Happy clients:

'Francesca is brilliant at colour matching and I feel so excited to be working with her and using the delicious combinations of her chalky textures and beautiful colours.'
- Elise Ovanesoff,

'I was charmed by Francesca's colour charts and how she developed the colours from her love of travel, bringing the feel of the places that she visited into her paints.'
- Jenny Phillips, Dragonfly Design

'Francesca's passion for her work restores the nuance of colour to our lives . . . It matters a great deal to us that Francesca has created her palettes and paints with such sensitivity to the environment.'
- Sally Thompson - Best Client - Manor Owner

Travel and Inspiration

I spent the whole month of January 1999 in Mexico to see the lime wash in its splendour, to get inspired, to buy recipes books for traditional paint finishes and pigments.

February - March 2020 I went to Isla de Bastimentos, off Panama, to stay in a beautiful lodge in the jungle to do yoga and pilates. We were surrounded by nature. There are no cars on the island. We saw sloths, birds I never seen before, red frogs, green frogs, snakes, big spiders creating artistic, gigantic webs, monkeys. caimans, butterflies, lots of butterflies, and fireflies at night The colours are strong and gentle at the same time. The scenery varies from mangrove to open sea, the jungle, in the middle, is lush, plants growing on plants, so many shades of green. First cases of Coronovirus were already there. When we arrived at the little airport, a made-up doctor, checked our temperature. Got back to London just in time. Before the lock down. What is happening to our lives? Have we lost our freedom? In yoga there is a say: Adjust, Adapt and Accommodate, which seems very pertinent now.

August 2018 Numana, in Le Marche, Italy. Always very inspiring to see my artist friend in her house by the sea. Surrounded by her art, and by the sea, 3 meters from the house. Long swims, yoga on the beach and great food. This is the life.

In December 2006 Went to Venice. Apart from being one of the most striking and romantic cities in the world, it is also the kingdom of lime wash. Fantastic to see how the lime wash really works in situations of humidity and dampness. The colours are broken and textured and the effect is striking.

October 2019: Wonderful stay at Masseria Mangiamuso, close to Ostuni, Puglia. Famous for its whitewashed Old Town. The Masseria is owned by my ex-boss, the unique Peter Lewis, founder of Porter's Paints, Australia. Peter bought the Masseria with a friend and transformed it into a stylish, comfortable, beautiful abode. It is enormous but cosy and so well designed. The swimming pool is perfect and painted in black. The water is a deep blue colour. It is a magical place, the food in the region is a dream. In October there were still 28 degrees, a wonderful late summer. I also went to Matera, a city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, only 2 hours away from Ostuni. It includes the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. A definite place to visit. Some scenes of the latest James Bond movie were filmed there. It is breath taking. Every drop of water was saved and used. The city was built to catch water. It is a tragically wonderful place. Life was extremely hard there.

September 2016 A week in an unspoiled area of Calabria, southern Italy. Traditions still alive. It is like living in a different century.

June 2013 Drove from Taormina down to Porto Palo, southern point in Sicily. Loved the city of Noto, where the Borocco style was born and stylish Ragusa. Nice beaches, blue sea and the food is to die for. We all came back with some more weight on!!!!

In September 2006 I went back to beautiful Ginostra. Climed the Volcano, found more pigments.( ) Also enjoyed discovering Palermo with its incredible architecture, people and food.

In August 2004 I went to Ginostra, in the active volcanic island of Stromboli, north of Sicily. With the help of a volcanologist i got pigments from the volcano. Red oxide and yellow oxide and learnt some more techniques to colour natural paints.

September 2010 Explored Sardinia, not the sea but inland. The Nuraghi are absolutely fascinating, they are the main type of ancient megalithic edifice found in Sardinia, developed during the Nuragic Age between 1900-730 BC. Today it has come to be the symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture, the Nuragic civilization. We climbed inside one, spectacular!!!!

March 2019 Went to Andalusia for a week of detoxing, yoga and meditation. Mind and body feel so sharp after this. We stayed in the mountains, wonderful chilli morning, we got up early for meditation. No noise, only the birds singing.

In December 2007 I went to Andalusia: Seville, the white villages and Granada. Incredibly beautiful and stylish place. The Moorish influence is fantastically delicate and elegant; it is a joy to see how lime wash is used in the most incredible wonders of the world.

August 2019: I escaped to Mallorca. One of my favorite places to visit. For me, the best sea in Europe. I spent hours in the water. The sea is so deep that looks purple. I like to dive in to the sea, the best way to get into the water.

December 2018 More India, North of Cochin in the wonderful Ashram of Swami Govindananda (, the best place to recharge our batteries. Surrounded by rice fields, speckled with white herons. We drank the water from the well and milk from the cows living in the fields nearby.The quietest and cleanest India I have ever seen.

September-October 2017 I went back to India. The first two weeks I spent them in a Gurukulam founded by Swami Tattvarupananda Saraswati near Thrissur. Gurukula is a type of residential schooling system in India with shishya (students) living near or with the guru, in the same house. It literally means the House of the Guru.
Janaka Janani Kripa Gurukulam Trust (JJK Gurukulam Trust) is a social service-oriented body engaged in providing education and a home for children of less privileged and dysfunctional families. I was so impressed by the pure and spiritual upbringing of these wonderful girls and decided to make a new collection called the JJK Gurukulam Collection dedicated to the girls I met at the Gurukulam, each colour has a girl's name and 10% of the profit of this collection will go toward the Gurukulam.
The last week I spent it in an Ashram in Trivandrum doing yoga and meditation. I love Ashram's life. I love the discipline, the routine, the order that it gives to the mind. Sensational food and great yoga, of course.

In February 2009 I went to Madurai, India, to stay in an ashram and learn more about yoga and its philosophy. I am deeply in love with this country. Everything about India is beautiful, spiritual and colourful and I cannot get enough!!!!

In November 2005 I went back to India for 2 weeks and visited Kerala. Can not stay away from this amazing country. Always something new to learn about colours, people, yoga and ayurvedic treatments. Fantastic!!!!!

November 2016 Spent 3 weeks in the Himalayas in India doing an intense, life changing yoga program. I LOVE INDIA. It inspires me in any way.

September 2015 Spent two weeks in an Ashram in the Himalayas, in the most unspoilt and magical place ever, studying Vedanta philosophy and yoga.

January 2010 I went to Varanasi, one of the most magical and spiritual sights in India, the cycle of life and death presented in front of your eyes. Amazing experience, I was incredibly touched by it all. Then travelled to Goa, to celebrate Camillo’s 60th birthday. We have been working together for 10 years and he is a saint and the pillar of the company many happy returns!!!

In February 2009 I went to Madurai, India, to stay in an ashram and learn more about yoga and its philosophy. I am deeply in love with this country. Everything about India is beautiful, spiritual and colourful and I cannot get enough!!!!

In January 2000, I went back to India and Sri Lanka for another full 'immersion' of colours, pigments, texture, temples Buddas, and sandy beaches.

On my way back to Europe in the spring of 1996, I stopped in India for several months, and in Jaipur I took a course specialised in the uses and applications of pigments and oxides. It was my first time in India. I travelled as a passenger on the back of a motorbike. It was the most incredible experience of my life. My friend was doing the round the world trip on his BMW ENDURO 1000 cc. I met him in Sydney, where I was living. He started his trip in New York, rode up to Canada and and then to South America, where when he arrived at the Tierra del Fuego, he travelled to Australia by cargo ship. I told him I was thinking of going back to live in England via Asia. He was going that way by bike. We decided we would meet in Kathmandu, Nepal. I left Sydney, after 7 wonderful, life changing, most incredible years of my life. Where my passion for paints and colours started. I went to Hong Kong to meet a friend and then off to to Bali. Finally, I arrived in Kathmandu where I met with Carlo, my motorbike friend. What a city. Traffic and temples, Buddha's eyes and cars. Highest mountains and pollution. Magical, mystical and noisy. And then the motorbike adventure began. We rode to Pokhara, I loved the lake. We hired a little boat and spent hours in the middle of the lake surrounded by mountains, laughing and joking. We carried on towards North India. We arrived in Lucknow, a sweet colonial elegant city, then Agra and the Taj Mahal and the Fort, Am I dreaming? Mind-blowingly beautiful. And then off to Rajasthan, to the colour master in Jaipur, the pink city. What? Mountains of powder pigments, we are grinding oxides. This is a dream come through. I cannot believe what I am living. Is this for real? Then Delhi. OMG. The traffic, the people, the animals, the Tata lorries, the tuktuks, the monkeys, the cows, the children, people carrying fridges on their foreheads. All in the same road as you. Finally, we went up towards Manali, via Shimla, the ecological City in Kullu Valley and then we rode to Leh, in Ladakh. We went through the second highest passage in the world, 5700 meters. We were on top of the world . The scenery was incredible. We trekked around Leh, we went to Dharamshala, it was so spiritually charged. We rode back to Manali and I flew back to Milan to see the family. What a trip. The most incredible adventure of my life. After Milan, I came to London, where, after talking to different paint companies, I took the plunge and on the 14th November 1996 I launched Francesca’s Paints. And never looked back. Carlo carried on from India, by motorbike and boat to Egypt. His trip ended in South Africa in 1997. He then went back to live in Italy. I was the only passenger he ever had, in his 4 years long trip around the world. l absolutely loved it.

Easter 2019 in Paris. What a wonderful city. Notre Dame burnt and black looks powerful and tragic. Every time, I discover something new. Walked for miles. I just love Paris.

June 2018 Went to Nimes to see my favorite client in her beautiful house painted with our lime wash. Enjoyed lovely lunches and dinners and the local flea markets.

October 2014 Back to the Ashram in the Loire Valley, France for a week of intensive yoga to recharge the batteries.

From April till May 2006 I spent a month in an Ashram in the Loire Valley for a deep immersion of spiritual life. I discovered yoga more than 1 year ago and now her life evolves around it. ( Interested in the study and use of colours. Everything has a specific meaning, for instance yellow is the colour of learning, white of purity and so on.....

May 2018 Flew to the Azores for 10 days of Yoga in the dramatic landscape on the island of Sao Miguel. Went whale watching. How incredibly exciting to have seen them playing with the dolphins. The sea is 3000 meters deep and colour is purple blue. Very beautiful.

January 2018 I went to the Bahamas to the Sivananda Ashram for more yoga, meditation and detox. Great beginning of the year. Weather was not fantastic but the colours, the air, the vegetation, the sea, all wonderful. I am a lucky lady. Travelling enriches my soul.

Bank Holiday August 2017 Back to Snowdonia for more yoga and healthy living. The land there is so sacred and pure. So many shades of green. Perfect for dog walking.

August 2016 Snowdonia. What a wonderful place. Pure. Perfect for walking, enjoying fresh air and clear the mind. Any shade of green imaginable.

May 2017 Travelled to Ibiza to go and see the property of a client painted with our glorious colours. Lovely island. Still quiet because early season. There are beautiful pink and yellow flowers. It is the first time that I see the island green and lush. usually I go end of summer when it is all burned by the sun. Client house is fantastic. Our colours look brilliant everywhere.

March 2017 Thailand. Spent 10 days doing Yoga in South Thailand in a Buddhist Centre. Beautiful. Long empty beaches, blue sea and strong sun. Golden Buddhas, amazing temples, lots of bold colours like RED and GOLD. Great healthy food. Peaceful, clean and magical.

January- February 2016 Went to Costa Rica, a rugged rain-forested country. Lovely beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. A quarter of its area is made up of protected jungle, incredibly rich with wild life, including spider monkeys and birds. Loved the hamming birds. Amazing colours.

November 2015 Went to Istanbul to celebrate my 50th birthday!!!! What city, where east meets west. Loved the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Bazaar. Colours and smells.

February 2015. Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen. Colourful areas painted in strong ochres and oranges in the lime wash!!! Interesting Design. Great city. Went to best restaurant ever, Amass, 9 courses paired with wine. All the senses had fun.

August 2014 Went to Mykonos. Freedom and fun. Turquoise sea, brown rocks, fresh food and a lot of swimming.

December 2013 Went to Iceland looking for the Northern Lights, unfortunately I didn’t see them but enjoyed this beautiful country. Reykjavik is such a stylish city, nice to see that globalisation has not hit them as yet, so no McDonalds, no H&M, no Zara, but independent chic shops, beautiful friendly people, and out of Reykjavik the spaces are incredible. Interesting light, I loved it.

June 2012 Morocco, my first time in Marrakesh, pink lime washed city, loved the smell, the colours, and the prayers in the morning; then we went to Imlil, up in the Atlas Mountains to cool down. We end up our very pleasant stay in Essaouria, the Berber name means the wall, a reference to the fortress walls that originally enclosed the city. Stayed in the same hotel as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. A very stylish Old House with amazing views of the Atlantic. Loved the Gnawa music.

2011 Spent a long time in Guangzhou, China working on a project there. Very interesting.

I went to Dubai for a week in November 2006 to see Index 2006, the Interior Design Trade Fair. Interesting place. 50% of the cranes in the world are in Dubai. The biggest construction site ever seen!

In January 2005 I went to Antigua. I was most interested in trying to recreate the beautiful turquoises and blues but these hues can not really be used with the cold light of the UK. They look fantastic where the light is warm. Learnt a lot about how Caribbean people use colours.

In January 2004 I spent 6 weeks in the North East part of Brazil. I visited the Amazons and got in touch with some local indigenous tribes to learn about their method of colouration. Colours made with native plants and leaves.

In January 2002 I went to Cameroon, Africa, for 5 weeks to learn new techniques of colouring with natural plants and flowers.

In January 2003 I went to Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Visually, one of the most colourful and incredible trips that she has ever made. Textures and colours that kept changing with the sunlight, very inspirational.

May 2009 I spent a month in Mozambique. I travelled to the Illa de Mozambique, off Mozambique's north coast, connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge. The paste is slow. Tradition is alive. The buildings are colonial portugese, the colours are strong but soft, faded yellow, deep red and green lime wash walls. It is a magical place. I then went to Tofu and Maputo and drove through Kruger National Park to Johannesburg. A beautiful adventure. Inspiring in any way.

In 2001, I spent the month of January in sunny Australia, I loved being back. It is my second home.

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