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…

What do You Collect?

I am pretty sure most of us like to collect something. Perhaps its vinyl, volcanic rocks or paint colour charts? Well, I have to admit that I am a serial lighting collector. It’s not a fad, no, no, it’s taken thirty years to get this far and although it may seem rather extravagant I would sooner shuffle around in a pair ancient clogs (actually I do) if it means I have more to spend on lighting.

In my mind a classic is only a classic if it stays with me occupying my thoughts year on year. It should have a presence and charisma that adds energy to a space. It should also be practical and perform an excellent job. It should have a story behind it and it will often be inspired from something ordinary that has given the designer that initial spark. It should be well made, crafted and every detail tweaked.

Take Achille Castiglioni  who along with his brother Pier designed the iconic Arco floor light in 1962 after being inspired by the every day street lamp. Arco is a practical solution to allow overhead light in a room without the hassle of wiring a ceiling. But it isn’t just practical. The heavy Carrera marble base stabilises the long slender arm that sweeps up and out into the room. And the circular holes in the stainless steel shade allows the heat from the bulb to dissipate but also sends beautiful soft smudgy circular shadows up onto the ceiling. A well thought out solution to an every day need. Perfect.

All the lights I have bought over the years still give me immense pleasure. What’s more they still do their job and I haven’t ‘gone off’ any of them. And when a part does eventually perish, they can be repaired – not thrown out! I have two Fresnel lights designed by Joe Colombo in 1966 lighting up my front door. Lately a rubber seal preventing rain water from getting inside the fitting perished. I contacted the manufacturer, Oluce, they e mail me a diagram of parts, I identify the little piece I needed and it arrives shortly afterward through the post and my light is set for another decade of Scottish weather. That’s how it should be. My lights may have been fairly expensive but they don’t need replacing so actually it’s not such a bad habit after all…

What do you collect?

London Design Festival 2012 – the Red Trend

London Design Festival is a great time to visit the city as the number of design shows, workshops, pop up shops are phenomenal and this year was no exception.

After visiting 100% DesignTent LondonDesign JunctionDesigners Block, the Conran Shop, and of course the Design Festival at the V&A,  three very clear trends emerged from the shows.

The first was obvious as London had turned red! The launch of the Louis Vuitton and Kusama collection was celebrated by the facade of Selfridges  being bathed in red hot light and the shop floor being covered in huge red spots. A lot of people were wearing red jeans too…

The Conran Shop who were launching a beautifully pared down and updated Soda Stream (the perfect Christmas present) designed by Yves Behar decided to show a collection of design classics – all chosen in red which when set against their trade mark blue walls looked stunning. It was interesting looking at chair designs spanning the twentieth and twenty first centuries all being shown in the same colour as it forced you to consider the form of the chair more than you may have done had they been shown in their original colours.

I suspect red is a micro trend derived from ‘London 2012’ and all things red, white and blue as the colour trend predictors tell us that green is the predominant colour for 2013. However, it was certainly an ingenious and arresting colour to use in the exhibitions as the excitement around the shows was palpable.

The other two trends (more subtle) I shall put in my next post – this is just a quick post to celebrate all things red.

Back soon with the next post.

Timberyard, a Stunning New Restaurant Slides Open its Big Red Door

There is little more uplifting than watching a derelict building being saved, clawed back from the brink and allowed to breath again and I’ve been lucky enough to witness the Radford Family do just that over the last year (you may remember the post What Colour For a Salvaged Interior  where ideas were discussed for this very project).

The building formerly, the old Lawson’s Timber Yard (many Edinburgh residents have visited at some point over the years to pick up a chunk of 3 x 2 timber for a DIY project) is on Lady Lawson Street in the heart of Edinburgh and the Radfords have transformed it into a stunning space which perfectly reflects their style of cooking – sustainable, artistic, local and often foraged.

Timberyard has notched up several great food reviews already but it’s the interior (and exterior) that interests me in this post.

What the Radfords have made is a restaurant packed with character, quirky details and peppered with design classics (great before, during and after photos here.)  It’s a space which has stories to tell and such a relaxing vibe it makes it hard to leave. They have created something which can be lacking in high end interiors. We all know the sort of characterless spaces I am thinking of – the kind where a high budget has done no favours to the interior because the perfectly executed design configured in a swanky design studio could in fact belong anywhere from Dubai to Barcelona. But Timberyard has been lovingly and very personally restored on a minimal budget which has dictated that virtually everything has been salvaged and it has given the restaurant a sense of place.

Take the clear suspension lights illuminating the entrance – formerly used to light up chicken runs. Or the beautifully pared down metal external cylindrical wall lights, salvaged from a post office building about to be demolished. And the bulkhead lights, robust and perfectly engineered in a factory in Glasgow decades before and rediscovered on ebay.

The furniture tells of a similar story – early Wimbledon Tennis Club chairs in the courtyard, tables constructed from old railway sleepers, Gubi chairs reused from their last project (Atrium & Blue restaurant) and radiators heading to extinction. Saved.

The history and conversations absorbed in the old walls gives instant integrity and warmth to this restaurant. It’s as if the walls can talk and sometimes old walls do…

The Lammermuir Festival currently taking place in East Lothian has a motto that great music shall be played in great venues. Last night in the pitch dark and near freezing conditions several hundred spectators sat under the clear starry sky at the relatively remote ruins of Tantallon Castle to witness a spectacular music and light display, Tantallon! These Lands, this Wall. The great stone curtain walls of Tantallon spoke of what they had witnessed, felt and absorbed over the centuries – a fourteenth century construction which has witnessed sieges, coastal storms and countless sagas.

I’ve started looking around me at the walls I see every day and I like to imagine what they have witnessed. It gets you thinking…

Dyslexia and Interiors

I recently came across a photograph of my Great Grand Father taken around 1904. He was an artist and the photo is taken in his studio in London. But something jarred with me right away.

I live in a house with no pattern at all, no  pattered cushions or pattered curtains or bed linen. I dress in plain blocks of colour and actually feel quite unwell if I try to wear patterns. I’ve never really given it much thought, despite people often mentioning my ‘minimal’ or ‘ordered’ taste.

Looking at the vintage photo all I see is the wallpaper jumping out at me, confusing my mind into a chaotic tangle of thoughts. How on earth could Great Grand Father paint in such a decorative room? And very well he painted too as he exhibited at the Royal Academy Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Glasgow Institute.

With help from the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, I have been on a fascinating trail to try and identify the wallpaper in the studio. My findings will appear in The History of Wallpaper Review later this summer.

But back to pattern versus plain. As I spend a lot of time specifying wall colour, I thought I would do a little research into why some people are comfortable surrounded by pattern and some are definitely not.

I was diagnosed a ‘dyslexic’ when I was very young and have chosen to work in areas where right-brained individuals can thrive so therefore don’t give my label of dyslexia any thought…until now.

When you look up ‘symptoms of dyslexics’ on the web you will see lists containing  attributes such as being intuitive, sensitive, perfectionist, artistic, and often very orderly. All very nice. Something else I hadn’t clocked until now which made me smile – dyslexic children are often first to learn and identify colours! There are of course many other indicators including being very light sensitive, often ambidextrous, thinking in images rather than words, having a strong sense of justice and interestingly often left eared. Well I tick all of those boxes and more but then something popped up which may well answer the question as to why I choose to live in an uncluttered interior.

It is actually common for dyslexics to feel anxious in decorative interiors. They contain far too many random visual stimuli which can led an ordered mind of a dyslexic to become extremely anxious. Our minds which operate on visual imagery receives an overload of information which needs to be ordered and the task becomes overwhelming and leads to confusion and stress.

For me, this answers a lot of personal questions and for interior designers, it is important information to bear in mind. If your client includes decorating a  bedroom for a dyslexic child you could quite easily create a stunning room in your eyes but one which creates a lot of tension for a child. It is less likely to happen when working for a dyslexic adult because they are likely to have discovered their preferred ‘style’ which will almost certainly be very clean and simple i.e one where they feel at ease in.

So perhaps the Father of Modernism, Albert Loos who famously wrote, Ornament and Crime, was perhaps a fellow dyslexic? Well I would like to think so anyway…

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.

Dynamics of Metal Surfaces

Although it’s normally colour I look at, today I am taking a look at metals and their various properties.

I am currently working on a large semi derelict building which reeks of character and punches it’s industrial past at you straight between the eyes. The space will become an edgy new restaurant, its colour palette nodding to its industrial past (the decayed properties of the space make it very alluring ), but should also transport visitors to a new set of urban aesthetics. The building has attitude and the colours and surfaces must acknowledge this.

Our chosen colour palette may require some metallic “lift” so I need to consider various properties that metals can display. Polished metal  has a high light reflective value (LRV) an effect which is magnified when placed next to a dark colour. If for example a gold panel is hung on a black wall, the gold will appear particularly bright. The black wall will absorb light and the gold panel will reflect light so the gold’s will appear luminous in contrast to the black which is absorbing the light.

Placing a reflective metal on a dark background will  make the edges of the metal more defined and the metal will appear “contained”, smaller but very bright. If you place the gold panel on a white background however, the gold panel will appear larger because the gold will “spill” or “grow” onto the surrounding lighter surface.

I also need to consider the “temperature” of metals. Silver is “cooler” than gold although it can be “warmed up” if used next to black. However, place silver against white and its “temperature” drops like a stone.

Silver is also highly influenced by surrounding colours and will actively seek out and reflect other colours in the room – much more so than gold. The Tony Cragg sculpture below is reflecting an adjacent yellow sculpture – also a Tony Cragg piece – presumably the curator has positioned the sculptures carefully in order to create another interactive dimension to the art work.

So now I have considered some of the dynamic properties of metal, I can’t wait to mix them into the equation and use them to breath another dimension into the project – a project I hope to post more on in the coming weeks.