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………

2012 Warms Up

While Pantone have chosen Tangerine Tango to be their Colour of the Year for 2012,  Dulux opted for a lively juicy red but Crown paints have launched a whole new colour palette, New Directions ,which is intended to encourage us to mix traditional colour groupings together i.e pastels with neons, brights with neutrals, neutrals with pastels (but all still under pinned by neutral grey). So it looks like 2012, Apocalypse or not, is going to be a colourful year with plenty of trending hues emerging from the warm side of the spectrum.

Back blogging on January 5th

It will be interesting to see what iconic Danish brand Vipp will choose for 2012 as their 2011 colour was ‘rising red’ – I will tell you as soon as they announce it but I have a feeling we may see something with a violet tone to it.

Anyway, lots to look forward to but most of all I would like to take this opportunity to thank all subscribers and readers of my blog for being so supportive and jumping in with brilliant comments throughout the year. As all bloggers know, receiving feedback is what it’s all about, so thank you all very much indeed and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to catching up with you around the 5th of January 2012 for another colourful year.

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.

Two Summer Colours to Keep

As I sit here at 55 latitude, I have to report that summer has definitely vanished. The shops are filling up with heavy textiles and the colour palettes are rapidly changing.

However, it is still August, so I thought I would pin up some summery palettes and interestingly each image contains one colour that is going to hang on well into Winter 2011.

Sulphurous yellow is likely to be a key micro colour this winter. Used for details to lift a moody room, or on the catwalk to make fun of  grown up tailoring, its presence even on very small areas will be felt.

Inky midnight blue is another colour I think we will see but this time on larger areas. Not a conventional navy, more a bruised navy heading towards off-black. A great backdrop for artwork and a colour that can easily add sophisticated drama to an interior. Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue fits the bill but if you are looking for less saturation, Paint & Paper Library’s Blue Blood is a stylish “easy on the eyes” blue. Little Greene’s Juniper Ash  a hazy airforce blue-grey  would be a softer choice while Valtti “St.Peter’s Boat” a powerful blue-black would create an interesting feature wall.

Put the two colours together and you have a great combination – perhaps it’s not so bad we are marching towards Autumn……

Your Personal Paint Palette from a Photo

It’s the fun part of decorating that many people find rather mind boggling – choosing a paint colour. If you regularly read my blog, you will know it’s a subject I frequently write about but today, I have found another way to kick start the inspiration required when selecting colours. Of course there are many things to take into account when choosing colours which I have discussed in detail previously but if it’s a starting point you are looking for, why not try this.

People tend to be naturally attracted to “colour groups”. The groups may be seasonal colours ( see previous post Finding your Dominant Colour Personality), or environments such as woodland, beaches or urban colours. However, why not flick through your photo collection and find an image with appealing colours. It may be tricky picking out individual hues so why not pixelate your image and discover a palette looking right back at you?

I very definitely fall into the “beach” category so this photo of a Isle of Syke beach throws back a palette which is ideal for me.

As nature is an expert in combining colours, you may find this wild flower meadow a good starting point.

Looking for some natural grays? What about this group of Parisian pigeons

Or your favourite piece of contemporary art?

You may find a palette in a surprising place. This serene palette is a photo of graffiti I saw in New York City.

As you can see there are infinite possibilities so have some fun with your own photo album. Why not have your pixelated image enlarged and printed onto a canvas, a unique artwork for your room – the colours will be perfect!

Balance Light and Increase your Productivity

It’s always good to think about contrasts when you are designing a room. I have looked at textural contrasts in  previous blogs and there are also many colour contrasts to think about such as light-dark contrast, chromatic-achromatic contrasts, complimentary contrast, cold-warm contrast, intensity contrast, quantity (area) contrast and more but it’s also important to think about contrasts between light and shadow. 

Linen shadows by Lucy Browne

As Frank Mahnke points out in his book, Color Communication in Architectural Space, you should avoid having extreme light and dark contrasts in a room because while your eye adapts to the extreme conditions your visual capacity is actually reduced. It is also a process that tires the iris muscle which can result in eye strain and fatigue. However, too little contrast and you will compromise the definition of the space. If you have ever been skiing when the light is poor you will know it is very difficult to pick out the three dimensional form of the slope. In poor light it is all too easy to hit a mogul by surprise and it can even be tricky to determine whether a slope is inclining or declining.

So just as harmonious colour palettes can provide a comfortable interior, try to create harmony with light and shadow – no contrast and you will create an uninspiring “flat” interior, too much contrast and you will find your eyes constantly adjusting and feeling tired. Mahnke refers to studies which show an increase in levels of productivity in rooms which have appropriate differences in light levels – definitely something to think about in your workroom.

One City, Three Colour Trends

I found myself in Paris this week absorbing three very distinct colour trends. The “beautiful people” (of which there were many) were wearing one of two colours – tangerine or Yves Klein blue. No pattern, just unpolluted blocks of colour neatly sitting next to their rather tanned and toned limbs. Colours which can translate to your interior as feature walls.

The next was a fusion of  kitsch and Indian inspired colour combinations mirroring the creations in the newly opened Paris-Delhi-Bombay exhibition in the Centre Pompidou (more from that exhibition in my next post). Basically a lot of very hot pink colliding with saffron yellows, ruby reds and chlorophyll greens projected even further by shimmering surfaces and mirrored mosaics. These colours move into interiors by way of accessories.

But the other set of colours that really stood out was something I think we will see a lot more of. The sorbets. Squeaky clean hues, not like the pastels of the 1980’s, much fresher, more acidic but still really pale. Pale with attitude. Pale with a punch. The exciting thing about this set of colours is that as long as they are of similar “weight” you can pile lots of them together. An entire house can be decorated in pale sorbets without becoming “cluttered” or fragmented. They flow well and don’t fight for attention. It will be interesting to see how magazines market these sorbets as they are difficult to photograph but ever so easy to use.

Blue Horizon

Having spent the last two days walking round Scotland’s North East Fife Coast I am now flicking through my rather enormous collection of photographs from the trip and clearly see why analogous colour schemes are often referred to as harmonious.

Analogous palettes normally consist of three adjacent colours on the colour wheel. The middle colour is chosen as the lead or dominant colour in a scheme while the others take on more of a supporting role.

If you look at combinations of colours in nature, particularly landscapes, you will notice they are frequently analogous which is why they look and feel harmonious to us – useful to know if you want to create a calm and serene room with little contrast and a seamless feel. It’s also a good way of simplifying an awkwardly shaped room.

Classic and Cool

The signal has been made. It’s official. It is blue and white season. It takes the place of vibrant spring greens and citrus yellows. It happens every year without fail and is actually the only truly timeless combination I can think of. It’s not a trend it’s a national treasure.

So versatile you will see it in classical interiors as well as ultra-hip hotels. It was popular in Britain as early as 1750 to decorate pottery. It’s fresh, it’s cool and it’s classic.

Shop windows are stuffed with blue and white combos – clothes and home wares, and not many of us can resist. Perhaps it allows us to shake off the last of that winter feeling or dream of summers on Greek islands or picket fences in Maine.

Whether you paint your floor boards white or spray some old wicker furniture blue, it’s a budget combo that won’t let you down whatever decade we are in.

The Best Tool in Design: Colour

If a designer told you they had a tool which could shrink, expand, adjust temperature, change your mood, create energy, reflect seasons, continents and cultures in your home without making any structural changes you may think they were mad. But they do have that tool. It is colour. It is such a powerful tool that even the smallest amount can create an impressive statement.

The other advantage (for me anyway who prefers simplicity over decoration) is that used in conjunction with beautiful natural materials and crafted in a time honoured fashion, simple colour placement can be all an item ever asks for. It’s akin to cooking with the best, local ingredients. There is little point in embellishing  a medallion of venison, when all is required is some seasoning and a hot pan. This is the philosophy I am using for my textile range. Quality local materials coupled with interactive colour – simple but fulfilling.