Paint by Conran, Linen From Printed and Co

When I started this blog a few years ago, I came from the paint industry and wrote fairly extensively about colour theory – until I searched the web and realised that I was just adding to a plethora of existing blogs about colour. However, today, I am briefly revisiting the wonderful world of paint.

Paint by Conran from 'Kitchen Garden' range

Paint by Conran from the ‘Kitchen Garden’ range

Being a bit of a Conran ‘groupie’ I knew they were working on adding a paint range Paint by Conran to their brand and I’ve just got around to looking at it today. It was launched last year but I’ve not seen much evidence of it around Scotland so I thought I would share the colour chart with you.

Above are some colours from their Kitchen Garden collection. Having just been at a Textiles Scotland ‘Colours Trends Fashion Interiors’ seminar for Autumn Winter 2016/17 I can tell you that ‘Kitchen Garden’ is extremely close to Anne Richie’s predicted colour trend story named ‘Crafted’ especially with the kingfisher blue hues.

Paint by Conran 'Cottage Garden' range

Paint by Conran ‘Cottage Garden’ range

It goes without saying that Conran would include a good selection of blues to the range and Cottage Garden‘ blues manage to look as British as beloved iconic brand Cornishware.

Paint by Conran with Pear Mug by unifiedspace

Paint by Conran with Pear Mug by unifiedspace

My favourite set of colours comes from the Highland‘ range (deep hues pictured above with tonally compatible paler hues below) inspired by ‘swathes of purple heather, rocky outcrops and hardy windblown grasses’. It contains a beautiful soft grey-purple named ‘Sodden Clover’ (third colour swatch below on top left)  an excellent choice for a calm contemporary space.

Paint by Conran with Botanical DNA print on linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with Botanical DNA print on linen from Printed and Co

If you prefer a warmer palette, you may like the Harvest‘ colours, ‘soft and sun- kissed corn colours combined with deep earthy umbers’. Good pale sunlight colours, excellent for welcoming hallways, although it’s the ‘Giant Bamboo’ (bottom left) that I would like to see as a backdrop to some interesting vintage agricultural equipment hanging in a pared down interior.

Paint by Conran with Flying High Mug by unifiedspace

Paint by Conran with Flying High Mug by unifiedspace

However, if it’s a classic relaxing green that you crave, you will undoubtedly find it in the Orchard Collection, inspired by British Orchards and the seasonal colours of ‘springtime blossom’ through to ‘sodden moss’. A welcome addition pops up rather surprisingly in this set and that is ‘Pippin in Spring’, a beautiful pale pink – a difficult colour to nail as too strong and you have artificial marshmallow, too weak and it’s a dated boudoir. I’ve actually been searching for a non sugary pale pink for a while and I’m very excited to find this.

Paint by Conran 'Orchard' collection

Paint by Conran ‘Orchard’ collection

I’ve already shown you the ‘Kitchen Garden’ colours (below) and despite Conran putting every effort into marketing the colours as quintessentially British, I think this collection should really be name after Sweden’s iconic Dala Horse!

Paint by Conran 'Kitchen Garden' collection.

Paint by Conran ‘Kitchen Garden’ collection.

I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed how well fresh ‘Bud’ green from the Orchard collection sat with my Falling Apples‘ textile which is available from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with 'Falling Apples' linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with ‘Falling Apples’ linen from Printed and Co

and the Highland collection of colours with Vaki Rocks printed here on Fife Linen.

Paint by Conran and Vaki Rocks on Linen

Paint by Conran and Vaki Rocks on Linen

and Kitchen Garden colours with Vaki Rocks in orange colourway

Paint by Conran and Vaki Rocks on Linen

Paint by Conran and Vaki Rocks on Linen

I’ve enjoyed teaming up some of my textile designs with paint colours from Conran and I think their intelligent choice of colours making up the range will make it a joy for interior designer to work with.

The paint itself is manufactured in the UK by a factory which has been creating paint for 120 years. They say it’s an ‘extremely durable and hardwearing’ paint and I will certainly be trying it out on my next project.

Paint by Conran and Fennel Tangle in Pink Print from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran and ‘Fennel Tangle’ in Pink Print on Fife Linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with 'Chalk' print on Fife linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with ‘Chalk’ print on Fife linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with 'New Crayon' print on Fife linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with ‘New Crayon’ print on Fife linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with 'Lines' print on Fife Linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran with ‘Lines’ print on Fife Linen from Printed and Co

Paint by Conran and Vaki Rocks print on Fife Linen

Paint by Conran and Vaki Rocks print on Fife Linen

I have only one concern…I’m not keen on the name or indeed the colour Conran calls Rancid Apple‘ from the Kitchen Garden collection – but from someone who included a yellow in the ‘Fauvism 55’ palette for Valtti and named it ‘Elephants Nightmare’, I suppose I’ve not really got grounds to object…

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Colour at the Edge

It gives me great pleasure to be asked by Wendy Murray to be a guest blogger for The Velvet & Silk Cafe.  For my own readers, I hope you will find a little about my background and work of interest.

Although officially, a geographer (obviously attracted by the heavy use of coloured pencils) I have been working in the design industry for the last twenty years specifying contemporary brands of European furniture, lighting and modern art works for domestic and commercial spaces. I then began to specialise in restaurant interiors where I became increasingly interested in the use of colour as a design tool. This passion for colour led me to consult for Valtti paints where I designed colour palettes including ‘Fauvism 55’ which was awarded a Living etc Loves Award. I am currently working on a range of home wares and consulting on colour choice and placement in public spaces.

My work in colour simply relies upon the 10,000 hour rule, I do not have a colour qualification but I have probably read most books ever written on  colour theory (!) and I am in frequent discussions with members of the IACC (International Association of Colour Consultants) and Colour Group GB.

The place where two colours meet is my real passion. The perfect fusion of art and science exists at this point. Being able to alter a perceived colour by placing another colour next to it gives designers a very powerful and dynamic tool. I’m sure you know that placing two complimentary colours side by side strengthens their respective hues and allows them to be more luminous. In their fight for leadership the two colours ‘tout’ or strengthen their parent colours and retract any common hues resulting in a greater contrast.

The greatest energy or dynamism is found along the boundary where the colours touch – further away from this point the effect diminishes. However, if you wish the entire block of colour to have equal strength a simple ‘fence’ or boundary can be added around the colour block which prevents the colours sparring along the ‘front line’ and the heightened contrast will be spread evenly across the block.

red & green showing different strengths

Look at the energy where the colours touch compared to the outer edges. See how the 'fence' allows the energy to be equally spread.

There are far too many examples of colour physics to discuss in one post and there are plenty of examples on previous posts (including one on the effect of colour perception on ageing eyes which is relevant to Part M building regulations – although brand new research now questions this theory but its still too early in the research to change building regs).

In January this year I spent some time in Reykjavik and was astonished by the use of colour in the Harpa Concert Hall.

Harpa Concert Hall

As many members of The Silk and Velvet Cafe are architects I won’t begin to describe the building on its architectural merits although I do think Rowan Moore’s review of the building for the Guardian gives an excellent overview.

In a country full of colour contrasts, fire and ice, darkness followed by eternal day light and torn in half by the North American and Eurasian plates, I guess it is no surprise that Henning Larsen Architects and artist, Olafur Eliasson who designed Harpa have used dramatic colour combinations to full use.

I was stunned by the scale of the building and even more surprised to see the solid walls inside the building were black concrete. Considering the the lack of winter light, I did not expect the architects to choose black walls. Another surprise, is the white floor. Generally we humans feel more comfortable with ‘heavy’ colours below our feet, and ‘lighter’ colours above, (probably because that replicates nature). Entering this interior instantly made me feel very small and extremely aware of the building itself.

The insertion of bright yellow upholstery is a brilliant addition. Black which has a very low LRV (light reflective value) is the perfect back drop to clean bright yellow which has one of the highest LRV’s – the contrast allows the colours the greatest impact.

Image on left is untouched, image on right is inverted. The interior uses unorthodox colour placement to great effect.

The main concert hall, Eldborg or ‘Fire Castle’ takes inspiration from a volcanic crater in the East of Iceland. Red, well known to heighten ones emotions has affected some recent performers who claim their senses have been so sharpened they have been reduced to tears while on stage.

Photo by Ari Magg

The recital hall, Norourljos or ‘Northern Lights’ is shrouded in a vivid blue light to signify endless horizons and also to create a peaceful ambiance for smaller groups of performers.

Photo by Eypor Arnason

The Kaldalon or ‘Cold Lagoon’ has the ability to change colour depending on what event is being hosted. Inspired.

It is exciting to see bold colour choices and unusual colour placement  being used in such an important cultural building and a building which has become a symbol of Iceland’s new energy and optimism.

For me, it is the colour choice and placement that saved this over sized building from becoming an impersonal space. The building provokes powerful emotional and at times unexpected reactions which makes it an exciting and dynamic place to enter and a place that has firmly stuck in my mind.

Why do Colours Have a Visual Weight?

Have you ever wondered why some colours look heavier than others?

The strange thing about this question is that we instinctively know which colours appear heavier and which lighter. I can hear you say, “of course we know. Darker colours appear heavier than paler colours”. Yes, true but it’s not quite that simple.

If you paint two identically sized squares with equally saturated hues, one red and the other yellow, the red square will appear heavier.

equally saturated & sized red and yellow squares

The heaviest looking colour is red, closely followed by blue, then green while yellow appears the lightest. But why is it that there is a weight hierarchy for two dimensional colours?

Obviously if you paint a three dimensional brick  yellow and then weigh it, the physical weight of the brick will be the same had you painted it red. But our brains will conclude that the red brick appears heavier than the yellow one.

Psychologist Edward Bullough conducted an experiment in 1907 where he divided a ten foot wall in half horizontally and gave his subjects two buckets of paint. One bucket was filled with red paint, the other with pink. He asked them to paint each half of the wall in a different colour.

Virtually all of his subjects painted red at the bottom with pink above. As we instinctively find red to be visually heavier than its paler cousin pink, it is interesting that most of us prefer to see the heavier colour at the bottom of the wall. If red was used above the line, the wall would look top heavy and make us feel uncomfortable. So we like heavier colours closer to the ground and as red looks heavier that pink, it feels more natural for us to put red at the base of the wall. We seem to be applying gravitational forces to our selection of colour placement even though we know logically that the physical weights are the same!

I expect we are environmentally conditioned to use dark colours closer to the ground with lighter ones above as we are accustomed to solid dark earth under our feet and the pale sky and air above. We are therefore subconsciously emulating an environment that is familiar and comfortable to us.

Pinkerton and Humphrey conducted some experiments on colour weight in 1974. They concluded that perceived weight of colour “is independent of brightness as coloured circles, equal in brightness, differ considerably in apparent weight while achromatic stimuli which differ in brightness do not”. Perhaps its just me but I find it fascinating that our brains order colour like this. Oddly enough scientists still don’t know exactly why we give colour an associated weight. I can’t find any up- to- date research on the subject which I think is rather odd. If anyone knows anything further, please let me know!

Colour weight of course is very important when designing a balanced harmonic interior. In a  public space a designer will normally want to make visitors feel at ease. However some public spaces can be designed to be unbalanced intentionally in order to play with the visitors emotions and create an edgy and unexpected almost awkward experience. This has been achieved at the Imperial War Museum North where the shapes and angles of the building create a tense feeling perfectly suited for a museum about wars.

In domestic interiors it is usual (but not a rule) to create a seamless flow around the house in which case it is best to use colours of equal weight thus avoiding an abrupt change from room to room. If you are using a commercial paint colour chart strip like Dulux for instance, it’s easy to choose several hues which are arranged in the same horizontal position on each colour strip.

However, there are many examples particularly public spaces where architects have placed colour in positions which are unorthodox (and go against normal rules) and in doing so created some breath taking spaces……..more about some of these spaces in my next post.