The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market

If you are in Edinburgh this weekend it would be great to see you at The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market which will be running from Friday 10th, (Preview 5-9pm) Saturday 11th, 10am-6pm & Sunday 12th, 10am-5pm. Around 40 independent makers and designers will be showing and selling their work.

silk scarf

‘Love You’ Silk Scarf

 

I’ve been experimenting with some new prints and will be assessing which designs to take forward to the Craft Scotland Summer Show during the  Edinburgh Fringe Festival so I will have several promotions on over the weekend to hopefully encourage feedback.

silk scarf

‘Eden’ Silk Scarf

Most designers bring out a cohesive ‘collection’ each season but because of the way I work, my prints are fairly discordant – you have been warned!

The way it works for me, perhaps you are the same (please let me know, I’m really interested) is that when I am least expecting it (usually when I am about to drop off to sleep), a fully formed image falls into my mind. The next day I go about recreating this image – an image that seemed to appear from nowhere. The ‘mysterious’ image however, can easily be traced back directly to an experience. So as we all have many experiences in life, the ‘pot’ to draw from is pretty extensive (hence the diverse prints). So that’s why, for me anyway, it’s imperative to get out as much as possible and explore because every time I do, my mind is busy in the background drawing from the experience and creating the next print.

So that’s the process or perhaps an explanation.

silk scarf

‘Breton Signal’ Silk Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford

 

The prints are unisex (can a pattern be gender specific anyway?!) so you will see prints on both silk scarves and on linen neck ties.

linen tie

‘Eden’ Linen Tie

I will also be bringing a new product – long wool and cashmere open weave scarves – only a few – so if you would like one, please be quick.

wool scarf

‘Fennel Tangle’ Wool & Cashmere Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford.

Another new product is the wool ‘Charger Pouch’. Ok, yes, I know, that’s a bit specific and they can be used for other purposes too – coins, lens caps, lipstick, jewellery bag – but I find them especially useful while travelling. Having a brightly coloured soft wool pouch to pack my phone charger in (I can’t be the only one who fuddles about in my bag searching for said charger, can I?) is of great comfort. They are designed for the minimalist at heart who craves a block of tactile colour and has a very guilty secret pleasure (sssh, I won’t spill the beans on you but they have a patterned lining – linen off cuts from the ties to be precise, we don’t like to waste at unifiedspace).

wool and linen pouches

Wool (and linen) Charger Pouches

So new prints, new products and many other designers all housed in the Fruitmarket Gallery which of course is also home to Milk Cafe . It would be great to see you this weekend! (10th – 12th June 2016)

If you have a sec, can you tell me what your favourite colour to wear is please?

 

 

 

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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…

Flowers From A Painter

I was given some flowers yesterday by a wonderful family of painters. They obviously spent ages choosing them (they mix their own paint colours for their interior work) and Narcissus Flowers (a flower shop on Edinburgh’s Broughton Street) tied them into a stunning bunch but the individual flowers are so perfect that I have spent the morning carefully pulling out single stems to look at in isolation. The colours, some sharp, some smudged are mouth watering but I’ve also been transfixed by their shapes. I hope you enjoy the images below.

 

Unifiedspace at Stockbridge Market This Sunday

I am very excited to tell you that unifiedspace will be at the fabulous Stockbridge Market, Edinburgh this Sunday 9th December 10am – 5pm. I have made lots of Christmas Gift Packs and greetings cards so come along, choose your colour combo and get your Christmas shopping sorted!

Christmas bird card

mug range

detail from linen union tea towel

twigs linen union tea towel

Las Vegas to San Francisco – a Colourful Journey

It’s been a while since I last posted and that’s because I  escaped the floods of the UK and have been on a very colourful road trip from Las Vegas to San Francisco. I better point out though that jet lag is a new experience for me and my brain and my body seem to be strangely detached from each other so please bear with me…

We started in Las Vegas, now please picture the scene – Scotland to Vegas in one long leap. It’s midnight and we are slap bang in the middle of Las Vegas. We tentatively drive down The Strip in our new, rather huge, hire car (in clothes that felt quite normal when we left Scotland but suddenly feel like something from a previous century) on the eve of Independence Day. Our luggage is lost. Need I say more.

Before going to Las Vegas, a good friend who knows me all too well gave me some advice. She said, “go with it, don’t fight it”. I suddenly knew exactly what she meant. It’s not a city for me, it’s way too frantic and unnatural and it’s the only place I have ever been where I couldn’t find a single thing to point my beloved camera at. Call me a kill joy but I am just being honest. So, my photos are a bit odd and the one in the middle was an image my teenage son, who’s eyes were on permanent stalks, pointed out (!?!) – it’s apparently how you dress to check in at Sin City…

and my Las Vegas colours are red, black and shiny gold.

Next stop Grand Canyon. What can I say, it’s massive, it’s beautiful and the colours change every time you look at it. Stunning.

Burnt earths, violet shadows and dusty pinks.

The next section involved driving through Death Valley and the white hot salt pans of Bad Water Basin (125 F the day we were there).

Spectacular colours are smeared across this strange landscape. Iron oxide pigments are smudged over the alluvial fans. Hematite, limonite, volcanic ash and cinder all pop out across this chaotic geology. We could have been on Mars.

Head North and the Sierra Nevada protrude from the earth like a great wall. A wall we would have to cross to reach Yosemite. The high meadows were the first signs of greenery we had seen for hundred of miles. It was strange and very comforting seeing green again.

The first thing that hits you when you reach Yosemite National Park is the smell of fresh pine trees and the sound of the water rushing from the granite outcrops. All your senses are stimulated by this beautiful place. Pictures don’t do it justice (well unless you are Ansel Adams). It is exactly like walking around inside a beautiful fairy tale.

I could continue and tell you about the farmlands growing walnuts, cherries and peaches in amongst the wild wheat we crossed to reach the old Victorian Gold Rush town of Nevada City, a historical gem of a place. And the lush vineyards dripping with fruit in Napa Valley but I fear I may lose your patience plus, my brain is screaming for some shut eye.

So on to San Francisco, the final destination of our tour. It would seem obvious to pick  international orange, the paint colour of the Golden Gate Bridge, for my final colour palette but San Francisco is just too colourful to select a small palette. It is well and truly multi-coloured in every respect. For us, it was the colourful people we met who made San Francisco a special place. The taxi driver who knew more about the contemporary art scene and costume design than many curators. The heavily tattooed man who took time out to tell us what to do and see in Haight. The lady from the Commonwealth Society we met on the bus who invited us as guests to the Jean Paul Gautier exhibition at the De Young Museum .The people we shared a sushi table with at the Ferry Building who told us about Beach Blanket Babylon who have now become friends. San Francisco is about people, great people, and what a place to end a fantastic holiday.

Thank you USA!

Some New Work

You may have noticed a certain lack of posts recently, and there is a reason for that – I’ve been working on a new range of products which I’ve literally just finished this week.

They are designs that I started while working in Reykjavik earlier this year and as a result I hope they have a light and Northern feel to them. I will add some very exciting stockists details shortly.

I am also happy to tell you that I have work in a new book, Languages of Colour, an anthology edited by Alexandra Loske which will be published by Frogmore Press on 31st May. Frogmore Press is well known for its book cover art and I am delighted to show you the cover of Languages of Colour, by artist David J Markham.

And finally, the research I was carrying out on identifying some art nouveau wallpaper will be published in The Wallpaper History Review this September – and I’ve been on quite a trail attempting to uncover the designer.

Apologies for only writing about my own activities in this post but I was keen to let you know my lack of posting is for a reason!

Well, I’m off to stomp over some mountains this weekend so I hope to catch some good images to share with you next week.

Keep you posted…

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.

Working the New Neon Micro Trend

There are many people in the design world who are steadfast against colour trends. I hear what they say and agree to an extent but there is no doubt that colour trends, especially micro, quick, fleeting trends can add a lot of fun and a great ‘edge’ to an interior. I am not suggesting you embark on an interior makeover every time a colour trend emerges, that would be ridiculous and very expensive, but interiors should inspire, excite and explore new techniques in order to keep them alive.

Perhaps I just have a low boredom threshold but can you imagine your favourite interior shop where and the products remain the same colour every time you visit? I really don’t think that would be much fun.

Enter ‘new neon’. We are talking,  ultra clean-cut, sharp, pulsating colours. Use it in really small areas and it can literally transform a space from dowdy to cool without much effort. The obvious way to do this is with small accessories like a vase or a cushion or even just a zip but I have been trying to source a neon paint to use over a few old randomly shaped glass bottles I was going to dump in recycling. I rather fancy a still life, Giorgio Morandi style but within the group of ever so chic well balanced neutrals slotting in an unhinged neon.

Glowtec UK  have a neon paint range which they claim can be used outdoors too. The trick with this micro trend is definitely less is more. The fashionistas are wearing it on nails, belts or satchels along with ultra femimine tailoring worn in baby soft neutrals tones. It’s the shock factor that this trend is trading on.

Pantone of course have a range of neons (801 to 807 being some of the punchiest) but they are designed for ink printing so most paint stores are unlikely to have the formulation to mix them as paint.

You may have spotted the image below in last weeks post – it was the neon window frame of this design store in Reykjavik that lured me into the workshop. A great example of really working this trend to full advantage.

The problem is, I have now created a dilemma for myself……. can I justify the addition of a neon edge to the profile of my  business card………

The Colour of Shadows

As we head towards the Winter Solstice, our rather limited daylight here in Scotland has rather surprisingly been a source of colour inspiration to me.

In June 2010, philosopher and art historian, Dr.George Roque read his paper, Chevreul at the Gobelins: The discovery of the law of similtaneous contrast of colours and its consequences, to the Colour Group (GB) in Paris.  Unfortunately I missed the presentation but have been sent a publication,  Chevreul’s Colour Theory and its Consequences for Artists,  written by Dr.Roque which is based on the paper he presented in Paris.

He writes at length about the French chemist, Michel Chevreul who famously published Chemical Researches on Animal Fats in 1823 before being appointed Director of the dyeing department at Gobelins Manufacture in Paris.

Dr. Roque explains that it was due to queries from the weavers at Goblins about the intensity of certain black wool samples that led Chevreul to discover perceived colour, say grey for example, varies depending on the colour it is placed next to. He realised this change in colour was not a chemical change but a psychophysiological change. After intensive research into contiguous colours Chevreul came up with his famous Law of Simultaneous Contrast.

I’ve redrawn the illustration that Chevreul and Dr.Roque used to demonstrate this point. The two grey rectangles on the left are exactly the same colour and the two greys on the right are the same as each other. However, you will notice that when the two different greys are placed next to each other the light grey appears lighter and the dark grey appears darker. Our brains are exaggerating the difference between the two greys.

This demonstrates that colours change their perceived lightness but Dr.Roque goes on to explain that Chevreul also noticed that when two hues were placed next to each other, their hue appeared to change.

Chevreul was aware of complementary colours so he applied the same logic – if the brain exaggerates the difference of lightness between two contiguous shades then  two hues will also strengthen their differences and look as different as they can. Below you will see the red and green in the centre look stronger than they do when they are isolated.

Chevreul’s discovery was of huge significance to artists, textile designers, wallpaper manufactures and artists. Artists such as Delacroix, Monet, Pissarro, Seurat, Van Gogh now had a psychophysiological “tool” to use to help them to strengthen the colours in their work.

If you wish to read more on this fascinating subject, you may want to read Art et Science de la Couleur by Dr.Roque but for now I will get round to the point I was initially going to make about our winter light (or lack of it!).

Artists armed with this new knowledge were able to use colours in completely new and exciting ways. It also led on to the understanding that shadows were not actually normally black or grey. We now know that shadows are the complementary colour of the light source hitting an object so in outdoor landscapes, the yellow sun light will cast a violet shadow (yellow’s complementary colour) – the French Impressionists were the first to really take this on board.

Finally, I arrive at my point. I have been looking at shadows in the past week and capturing some of the violet-greys which are cast. I plan to use some of these natural violets in some textiles I am currently working on. I will also be thinking a lot about Chevreul’s Law and attempting to create some “accidental” colours which are only visible due to psychophysical reasons –  an area that really intrigues me as it gives colour a whole new dynamic……and I’ve not even mentioned colour vibration yet…..its hardly surprising that so many people are fascinated with colour around the world is it?

Finding Warmth in the North of Scotland

A strange thing happens to me every October. As many Scots jet off to warmer climes to get a quick blast of sunshine in preparation for the dark winter ahead, I always find myself craving to go further North. Every year I drive to Sutherland in the North of Scotland and gulp in the staggeringly fresh air, stare at the huge skies and walk through forests straight onto beaches while looking at snow capped mountains in the back ground. Yes, it really is that good and you are unlikely to bump into a soul.

Well this year I was paying particular attention to ochres, reds and oranges on my walks as I am really keen to specify a warm colour for the restaurant project I am working on but warm colours don’t come easily to me. They are not “my colours” (I gravitate to cooler hues) although I do have great respect for them and I can see when they are required.

So, where else should I begin my search but at the Glenmorangie whisky distillery where even the air around the village smells slightly smoky, malty and warm.

In the fields around the distillery you will stumble across beautiful carvings left by the Picts (a name given to them by the Romans meaning “painted people” – it is thought that they dyed their bodies with woad before battles…..remember Braveheart….!). The Picts used local red sandstone so the carvings jut out of the tufty fields almost glowing, especially when you see them in the low setting sun.

Inside the distillery the graceful swan necked copper stills stand in line looking proud of the amber liquid they are brewing which will later be laid down to age in oak barrels. Barrels with ends painted a wonderful full-on red,

….the colour of the rose hip berries growing on the sand dunes nearby,

…..and the chosen paint colour of many of the local fishing boats.

I was definitely gathering up a lot of reds to take reference from until I was caught in a beautiful snow flurry while walking up a hill behind Alness – which very quickly transported my back to my default Northern colours….

As this post is rapidly turning into a list of my holiday snaps (sorry), I shall finish up but I have found a magnificent red wool cloth (colour 623) from kvadrat ‘s wonderful Divina 3 collection which I hope to use and it certainly transports me right back to those glowing whisky barrels at Glenmorangie….