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…

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.

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………

Colour Specification, a Female Occupation….. Really?

I’ve never been particularly interested in gender traits and try to avoid stereotyping but someone made a comment to me last week that inspired me to do a little research around colour and gender.

I’m not talking about which colours males or females prefer – there is plenty written about this already, I was intrigued to read that throughout history, scholars have claimed that females respond to and feel colour more than their male counterparts.

However, when reading a little deeper on the subject, this theory seems to have stemmed or perhaps been reinforced by nineteenth century French art critics such as Charles Blanc who valued drawing skills over colour and as far as I can interpret,  assumed males to be the dominant sex and so ‘delegated’ colour which was of secondary importance in his eyes, to the female sex. In his book Grammaire du Dessin he writes, ‘drawing is the masculine gender of Art, colour its feminine one’ and goes on to state, ‘painting courts its own destructions and will be corrupted by colour as humanity was corrupted by Eve’ . Wow, strong opinions there then but on a positive note just shows how far we have moved on with regard to equal rights.

There are countless other texts written in a similar vein so I think it may help explain the comment made to me last week which triggered this research.

I was waiting in my local paint shop while the technician mixed my NCS paint colours. The very helpful and friendly manager popped out to chat to me and asked about my latest project. I told him I was specifying colour for a new restaurant and he responded, ‘ah, girly stuff then’. I don’t think he meant to be rude, and I  wasn’t offended, I was just curious that he perceived this type of work to be ‘girly’. If in the twenty first century, colour consultancy is perceived as a female domain, (and this comes as a surprise to me) could it really have just stemmed from sexism in the art world where colour was viewed as secondary to form and therefore dished out to the ‘weaker’ sex?

John Gage in his book, Colour and Meaning  highlights the fact that even the leading mid twentieth century German colour theorist Rupprecht Matthai actively left all judgements of colour harmony to his wife, again reinforcing the notion that colour somehow belongs in the female world. However, Gage also queries whether views on colour and gender may also have a biological as well as cultural basis. He refers to the work of M.Sahlins, ‘Colour and Cultures’,  where it was found that colour defective vision is nearly one hundred times more common among white males than among white females.

I think wherever our views derive from about colour and gender, they all need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. I certainly know many expert males and females working in colour specification so once again, I think I will steer away from any form of stereotyping and assume that there are talented people from both genders working in the fascinating and powerful world of colour.

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.

Choosing External Paint Colours

It struck me that the majority of my posts have been concerned with colours for interiors but of course external colour selection is something I spend a lot of time considering.

I really enjoy selecting colours for commercial shop fronts as studies have shown that certain colours can actually drive more customers through a door. Being able to evaluate the effect of a colour with statistics is a really different way of looking at colour choice and obviously an important one for a business owner.

Position of colour on a building also plays a pivotal role. It is usually more pleasing to have “heavier”(darker) colours closer to the ground and lighter colours above as it helps to “ground” a building and in turn feels easier on the eye. This is normally referred to as “architectural order”. Reverse this and you have “typographical order” – like newspapers which use heavier colours at the top of a page in order to create a banner.

However, you will see some shops displaying typographical order as they may want to create a brand “banner” above the entrance.

And then of course you must look at colour association. It’s no coincidence that many fine wine shop fronts are painted red,

red wine colour

travel agents azure blue,

sea and sky blue

organic food shops green,

environmentally aware green

 spas violet,

purple, regal and spiritual

and this delicate bridal shop,

shell pink oozing femininity

However, a recent client, a farmer, commissioned Shepherd Huts to be hand built by Plankbridge ,a wonderful artisan company based in Dorset. The idea is that she will disperse the huts throughout a forested piece of land on her farm and will rent them out to holiday makers. She was really keen to choose colours for her shepherd huts that would meld into the natural environment – not to be camouflaged as the huts are beautiful but they had to related to the natural colours in the trees around them. On occasions like this, the best way to start is to analyse the existing colours in the immediate surroundings. I am always amazed how often violet grey pops up – a fantastically useful subtle and delicate colour in decoration and one which pairs so well with many other colours.

silver birch bark - Scotland

palm tree bark - Lisbon

plane tree bark - France

So next time you find yourself out shopping or taking a holiday in a Shepherds Hut (!) take a moment to look at the colours – there is often an interesting process behind the selection.

Inspired by the Mundane

I’ve been trying to walk as much as possible and take some “alternative” routes around Edinburgh – not the scenic routes but the ordinary, slightly ugly nondescript routes and I have become transfixed by the amount of paint on surfaces around the pavement. It may sound an odd thing to be thinking about but if you look closely at the shapes and colour of some of the markings even ultra familiar routes can become new and interesting. This is what I saw.

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!

Lisbon’s Light and Colours

For anyone who is even vaguely interested in colour and light  you really must visit Lisbon.  The clarity of the light is close to perfect helped of course by the  Atlantic Ocean and Tagus River reflecting light back on to this elegant city.

Old crumbling surfaces steeped in history, parched in the sun and beaten by strong salty winds present the most magical array of colours.

 

 

But in the same city, visit the Expo site built in 1998 and you will see squeaky clean shiny surfaces covering imaginative office buildings and pavilions.

And if this is not enough and interiors are more your thing, you will not be disappointed by the imaginative and often cutting edge designs gracing the city’s food havens – more about that in my next post….