Ask the Designer: An Interview with Tristan Butterfield

Tristan Butterfield

Tristan Butterfield

We’re really excited to interview Tristan Butterfield, Chief Design Officer at Baker Furniture, one of our favourite Stateside furniture brands. Baker recently teamed up with Farrow & Ball to create a bespoke colour for their global showrooms, we caught up to find out more.


TC: We’re excited to hear about your new look showrooms, how did you create the new look?

TB: We partnered with an amazing architect in London called Harvey Langston-Jones and Trish Hayes, our brilliant head of interior design at Baker over a three month period to mastermind a global platform for all three brands, Baker, Milling Road and McGuire.  Harvey and I used to work together for Sir David Chipperfield in London in the late 90’s, working on boutique hotels for Ian Schrager and fashion stores for Dolce & Gabbana.

The team was set, so we quickly studied the international market place and the cultural shifts taking place, what we realised was that a new direction had to be plotted.  We created shared mood boards on Pinterest and realised that Baker was in a perfect position to leverage its rich heritage and smash it together with a modern attitude.  We were very inspired by the new Gucci work that Alessandro Michele has been creating and the work of Alber Elba for Lanvin.

The stunning Baker showroom, painted in rich Baker Nightshade

The stunning Baker showroom, painted in rich Baker Nightshade, at Highpoint Market this spring.

And you’ve partnered with Farrow & Ball on a bespoke colour for your stores, can you tell us a bit more about this?

So, I have a little secret, I have been using Farrow & Ball for years, in my previous life in London I was the Creative Director of fabric and wallpaper house Zoffany, we held the license for The English National Trust for textiles and papers and Farrow & Ball for paint. I got to know the owners and actually ended up designing two of their showrooms and many of the window displays for Design Week.   I fell in love with their colours and the quality of finish, from that day all my properties have been Farrow & Ball, my absolute favourites apart from Baker’s Nightshade are Lime White 1, Setting Plaster 231 and London Clay 244.

It was a big idea for us to create a unique color with Farrow & Ball, not only beacuse of the time difference between Chicago and London, but we only had a matter of weeks to organise.  The High Point market deadline of April 15th was rapidly descending on us and I was worried that I was out of my depth.  The Farrow & Ball team jumped in, flew over our colour sample to Dorset and made it happen, its was a delight and the design team nailed the colour first round which blew my mind.  We are going to redecorate all our showrooms around the world with Baker’s Nightshade, New York, Dubai, Kuwait, Los Angeles and Singapore are first.  We are very proud to be partnering with the most exquisite paint and wallpaper company and are talking about new ideas for the future, so keep watch.

Baker has just lunched a new Jean-Louis Deniot collection, how did that partnership come about?

I believe that Rachel Kohler, our former President approached him in Paris three years ago, they both have a mutual passion for the decorative arts and the work of Jean-Michel Frank, it was Jean-Louis Deniot’s ability to blend antiques perfectly with modernity that was very interesting to her.  I met Jean-Louis for the first time in Paris during Maison & Objet and we clicked over a few too many bottles of champagne I might add…

Jean Louis Deniot enjoying his time at High Point!

Jean Louis Deniot enjoying his time at High Point!

Can you tell us about the journey of these pieces from the design stage right through to production?

At Baker we have an amazing design team headed up by our VP of Design Greg Heller, they took Jean-Louis Deniot’s mood boards, sketches and working drawing and developed them into prototypes, all in North Carolina at our factories.  Then the prototypes, usually in canvas and unprestigious woods, are then reviewed and changed until perfect.  Then final prototypes are created in the final finishes and reviewed again, adjustments are made throughout the journey with material sourced from the highest quality artisans from Italy, France and the US.

And which is your favourite piece from the new collection and why?

I absolutely adore the Celestite sofa with the double front legs, a perfect blend of traditional upholstery and modern luxury.  The new collection makes we want to completely redo my house, it feels so relevant to today.Baker_Jean-LouisDeniot_BA6179S_CelestiteSofa[1]

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who are just embarking on a big decorating project?

Start your project with mood boards on Pinterest, pin things you like from the arts, fashion, cinema, interior design and furniture.  Just pin things you love, that you connect to, then edit, edit, edit down until you have a clear vision of how you would love your product to look.  Then always refer back to the mood boards as you travel through your project, adjust as necessary, if your tile, paint colour or details don’t reinforce the final idea, don’t do it.  I have worked like this for years, be it a brand redo, a hotel, a fabric collection, it’s all the same process and above all else enjoy the process, it’s the best bit.

What’s the most interesting item/artefact/curios in your home?

I collect objects, furniture and drawings that have a connection to my life, they all tell a story.  When I left Zoffany, I was given an original roll of William Morris wallpaper, hand printed from nice different pear wood blocks, but what does one do with a single role of wallpaper?  The other item is an oak beam from HMS Victory, my father was in the Admiralty and when they were doing conservation work on board, they had to cut the wood out because it was weak from wood worm.  Admiral Lord Nelson seems to be a continuous connection to my family, from meeting the Queen on his former ship, to staying in Nevis where he was married, to living in Spain near the Battle of Trafalgar.  It’s very strange.

And finally, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

That’s tough.  In Europe it would have to be Nice, France and in the Americas, it would have to be Taylor Bay in Turks and Caicos or Marin County in California, I love the sea, it helps balance me and connects me with my family wherever we are in the world.


Rebecca Maclean


Rebecca’s interest in interior design began as a teenager when she had the ‘bright’ idea of painting her bedroom a striking tangerine shade. Today that passion for colour permeates her working life, and at home she enjoys trying new ideas while decorating her first home. Rebecca loves to travel, seeing the world and discovering new landscapes, sights and flavours.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist