An interview with Ellen o’Neill,
Creative Director, Benjamin Moore & Co


Benjamin Moore recently revealed its ‘Colour of the Year’ and trend colours for 2016. One of the key figures behind the selection process of these colours is Ellen O’Neill, Benjamin Moore’s Creative Director. Ellen leads the company’s creative and colour teams that drive inspiration through colour tools and forecasting. She is also one of the interior design industry’s most influential style makers and has been featured numerous magazines and is a regular contributing editor for House Beautiful magazine. In this interview, Ellen explains the choice of ‘Simply White’ as the 2016 Colour of the Year and the most effective ways to utilise the colour in interiors.

What led you to choose ‘Simply White’ as your colour of the year for 2016?

“As ‘insiders’ in a premiere paint company, the Colour Team fields customer’s paint questions as part of the process of simplifying the colour conundrum. White is the colour that provokes the most questions – people are obsessed with white, its symbolism, its iconography, its behaviour. White is a design essential, a necessity. We elected to give white the recognition it deserves and select it as Colour of the Year.


Above: Walls: Simply White OC-117 Above: Cabinet: Simply White OC-117


The Colour of the year is determined from months of trend research. What are some of the major events, industries etc that you studied as part of this research?

The Colour Team is attuned to colour cues in everyday life – colour combinations in apparel, retail design, restaurant design, signage, food markets, nature. We layer these with trips to international industry trade shows such as Maison & Objet in Paris, Salone del Mobile in Milan, Art Basel in Miami as well as domestic trade shows in the home furnishings, apparel, gift, auto, food and packaging industries.

As well as of course featuring the colour of the year, the trend colours for 2016 also feature some vibrant selections such as ‘Ravishing Red’, ‘Banana Yellow’, ‘Patriot Blue’ and ‘Royal Flush’. What led you to incorporate these shades into the trend selection for 2016?

During our research, we noticed the preponderance of high chroma colours, especially Yves Klein Blue, a close match to our Patriot Blue 2064-20. We felt the pairing of these colors with white was an energetic option for using white especially in modern design schemes.


Above: Table: Patriot Blue 2064-20 Above: Trim: Ravishing Red 2008-10


It’s been mentioned how effective using white can be in an interior when combined with varying shades. Would you recommend combining ‘Simply White’ with some of the other white tones included in your 2016 trend colours?

I think my favorite white layer is depicted on the cover of our Colour Trends 2016 colour card. We layered Simply White OC-117 with Ballet White OC-9, Mascarpone AF-20 and Paper White OC-55, creating a seamless, soft, romantic environment.


Above: Front Wall: Paper White OC-55 Above: Wall: Ice Mist OC-67


Aside from the collection of white tones, what is your favourite individual colour from the 2016 trend colour selection?

I’m tempted to say Black Ink 2127-20 but I will concede it is French Press AF-170. I’m not usually a fan of browns in rooms but this colour was rich and very seductive.

Which Heathfield & Co lighting designs would you chose to pair with your trend colours?

I would select the Derwent Rectangular ceiling fixtures to emphasise the white-on-white story. The tripod antique oak floor lamp is the perfect fixture for our white-on-wood story, illustrating how organic materials warm up whites.

The Dakota line of table lamps in any metallic finish also provides an attractive palette of lampshade colours that would coordinate well with our 2016 color palette.

Derwent Rectangle Large Pendant Light Tripod Antique Oak
Floor Lamp
Dakota Bronze Medium
Table Lamp

How would you summarise the overall feel and mood of the 2015 colour trends?

I think we were excited to celebrate a colour that was right under our nose. White can be invisible to some, obsessed over by others. We knew it would be a controversial choice but it has been a successful campaign and provoked conversation among the architect, the contractor, real estate, manufacturing, the cosmetics and the automotive industry. It has also helped the consumer simplify the selection process. Benjamin Moore offers more than 250 whites. Simply said, SIMPLY WHITE”

For more information on Benjamin Moore’s Colour of the Year and trend colours for 2016 please visit
Pictured left: Ellen O’Neill, Creative Director, Benjamin Moore & Co.