Twenty-five years. That’s how long Paintiques’ Ilaria and Julian Louw have been executing their craft. No wonder they were chosen to create some of the stunning paint effects featured in the 2016 Colour Forecast.
“Colour adds an emotion to your home,” says Ilaria Louw, seated with her husband Julian in their colourful house in Woodstock. “While white and grey can be calming and soothing, a bright colour is more evocative and can make you feel dark and mysterious, or bright and happy”.
Ilaria and Julian are the creative force behind Paintiques, a decorative painting company based in Cape Town, that has been beautifying homes and businesses for the past 25 years. One of their most recent projects was completing many of the paint effects featured in the 2016 Plascon Colour Forecast. No small feat, it took Julian and Ilaria three weeks to complete the paint effects for the Forecast brochure. “I’d say the cloud effect featured in the Element section was the trickiest,” says Ilaria. “It required quite bit of tweaking to establish the look and vision of what the stylist had in mind using the Forecast colours.”
Taking a look around the couple’s home, it’s quite clear why they were earmarked by Plascon to work on this year’s Colour Forecast. Their love for colour is glaringly apparent in their brightly painted walls adorned with an impressive collection of artworks. “We have always loved colour,” says Julian “Even when people moved away from colour in the 90s towards greys and silvers, we couldn’t resist – we kept everything around us colourful.”
Founded in the 1990s, Paintiques has built up an impressive client list around the country. A Fine Arts graduate, Ilaria met painter Julian just before she was jetting off to Europe to travel and sell her handmade jewellery. “A year later when she came back I had established myself as a painter of all sorts,” says Julian.
The husband-and-wife team started small by painting and decorating their friends’ homes. Relying solely on word-of-mouth referrals, the business soon saw the pair painting hundreds of Cape Union Mart stores throughout SA and neighbouring countries, and renovating official presidential homes in Cape Town and Pretoria. “It has always been just the two of us … we work fast together,” says Julian. “Even though Ilaria studied Fine Arts, the rest of our paint techniques are self-taught. We do some research on how to do certain things but a lot of our techniques happen through experimentation,” he says.
Being punctual and professional is one of the major contributors to the success of Paintiques, says Julian. “People are always impressed when we show up for a job on time because most artists are known to keep their own time,” he says. “Also we always finish a job on time.”
The special techniques and effects that the couple uses are inspired by anything from the environment to knickknacks they pick up here and there. And with regard to tools, Julian maintains that capable hands are far superior to fancy machinery. “We don’t believe in buying expensive equipment,” say Ilaria. “We improvise and make our own. We use sticks, rulers … all kind of things to create effects,” says Ilaria. “In this business techniques and colours are trend-related,” continues Julian. “From the horrible 80s where peach shades and colour-washing were all the rage, it went to the much more slick 90s, where greys and stony colours were in,” adds Ilaria. “With the wallpaper trend becoming big recently the business took a bit of a nosedive as more and more people opted for wallpaper instead of painted walls”, explains Julian. “Luckily, the trend has passed and paint effects are coming back.”
It’s certainly an auspicious turn of the tides. Not that a tried-and-tested craft such as Julian and Ilaria’s could ever go out of fashion.