We know, now, about the importance of low VOCs* in paint, about trying to find paints with few synthetics, the issues of recycling and the problem of all those leftover tester pots. But there is one company that is one of the most certified eco paints in the world and yet, as it doesn’t advertise heavily or have a strong social media presence, it lies largely under the radar.
But today, in partnership with that company Graphenstone, which was the brand, incidentally, that the designer Rose Uniacke chose when she set out to create her own range of “14 perfect neutrals”, I have interviewed Patrick Folkes, the CEO. Against a background of pictures of the latest colours, curated by is colour consultant Betsy Smith, he talks about this unique paint that removes CO2 as it cures while cleaning the air and which contains no plastic and no chemicals.
There are 1000 colours to choose from (and they can colour match as well). There are no gloss finishes, as this is impossible to achieve without plastic, acrylic or vinyl, but the two available finishes are a mineral flat matt and eggshell. “Mineral paints absorb and reflect colours and light in a far more beautiful manner than flat, film-forming plastic paints,” says Patrick.
Fifteen litres of Graphenstone lime-based Ambient Pro+ paints will absorb around 5.5 kilos of CO2 (as well as Nitrogen Oxide and Suphur Dioxide) which helps turn your walls into an indoor purification system.
And the company’s Graphclean mid-sheen works on both walls and woodwork so you don’t have to buy two separate pots and end up with more waste. This means you can match your skirting boards to your walls too (which creates a more contemporary feel and will make your room look larger and your ceilings higher) rather than outlining the edges of the room in traditional white.
It was founded by a chemical engineer, Antonio Leon Jimenez, who was determined to find a natural, ecological and health conscious coating for the 21st century. He turned to graphene, a Nobel prize-winning material made from inert carbon and the eponymous paint brand (which has featured in my Do Less Harm Directory since it launched) is the first in the UK to contain this substance.
Patrick says: “Paint is a dirty business – a heavily polluting industry – that uses enormous energy in production. It emits vast amounts of carbons, *volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polluted water and is toxic at point of use – in your home or office – from the heavy chemical contents.
“Graphenstone offered an opportunity to introduce a technically-advanced and certified harm-free paint into a market desperately in need of change. The paint is a fusion of old and trusted materials like lime, clay, silicate and chalk alongside this 21st century carbon technology.”
It is produced in Spain using 100 per cent renewable energy locally from wind and solar with no chemical processes. Its harm-free certifications from globally recognised evaluators include the Cradle to Cradle Institute, Global Green Tag and Eurofins Indoor Air Comfort Gold “more than any other paint brand”, says Patrick.
“These agencies take a holistic look at all aspects of our business inspecting the contents down to 100 part per million before evaluating each one for both health and ecology.
“The Graphene technology also makes the paint durable so it lasts longer and the packaging is 100 per cent recycled and recyclable too, right down to the tape and cardboard used in the delivery process.”
It is, says Patrick, as much about what the paint does NOT contain as what it does: “zero chemicals, preservatives, micro-beads or plastics. Less than 0.1 per cent VOCS (naturally occurring) and our certified (Solingesa) embedded carbon profile is around one fifth of those relatively few other paint companies that have bothered to certify. We’re at 0.50kg per litre of paint against 2.2-2.7kg of other big brands that we’ve identified.
“There are no animal-derived ingredients (and no requirements to test on animals). The paints are 100 per cent natural ingredients using vegetable resins for a 100 per cent vegan blend.”
Graphenstone is, says Patrick, not the only paint brand which is chemical-free – there are others which use linseed oil, casein and other natural materials with no requirement for the petro-chemical based toxic ingredients used by many high street brands: “We have no plastics, micro-beads or anything toxic or polluting in our paints. Our VOCs (which are below 0.1 per cent) are naturally occurring and certiifed by many independent evalutions in different parts of the world.”
So now that the science bit is out of the way (and you’ve listened carefully as Jennifer Aniston told you to) what are the colours that Patrick, along with Betsy Smith, the company’s in-house colour consultant worked with the late Terence Conran as head of display, are suggesting for the next season?
There are eight shades, pictured here, which, says Betsy are designed to go with, and enhance, natural materials such as wood, marble, rattan, linen, cork and cane.
“A successful interior should have soul and personality and our environments should be multi-sensory with natural textures and pigments to reduce stress and create calmness and clarity of thought. These paints easy to apply and have a matt, velvety finish.”