Notes From Premiere Vision, Paris

Having immersed myself in the vast textile trade show, Premiere Vision last week, I can report back on some key trends – but without images – photography is strictly forbidden (taking notes is not even allowed near the stands – stands being white pens with frustratingly high walls with a humid murmur leaking out from within, akin to a set from a Margaret Attwood novel) as the textiles and designs being sold are for 2017 collections and are therefore not even launched.


If colour trend forecasting leaves you cold and you put it on par with reading ones horoscope, you just need to attend a seminar at a trade fair and you will find a frenzied atmosphere, a room bursting at the seams with the worlds top decision makers in fashion and interiors – as we know colour can kill or cure a business so they need time to gear up their production to get their pieces out in time to feed our every whim.

Of course there are several trend ‘stories’ which gives a platform for a variety of colours to shine but they were mostly underpinned by a juicy, meaty red. Red, we are told is in gutsy opposition to our move towards a plant based diet (although I’m sure the food writers have this covered by giving us lots of other juicy reds from pomegranates to beetroots 😉) It’s quite an impertinent colour trend really as it celebrates  fake shiny food, artificial substances, think plastic sushi cartons, rubber cups, and bright synthetic palettes. The colours may seem a touch violent and frantic, but it works because only two or a max of three are used together.

The theme is really all about contrast, sweet and sour, rough with smooth, futuristic mashed with antique. It is designed to shock, invoke a reaction, look odd and unbalanced. In fact the stranger the better. Individualism is key. Wonky prevails.

As for patterns, designs are asymmetric, off balance, and shaky. Patterns are ‘placed’ rather than repeated and ‘colouring in’ is imperfect. Registration is ‘off’. Trusty old stripes are back (and so is gingham) but think huge, spectacular and sometimes flawed. No subtleties, no mush, just dynamism.

But then I look at my notepad and see I have written ‘epidermal pales’ and ‘angel skins’, ‘palpable paleness’ with ‘chalky finish’, ‘grating simplicity’ and ‘vapours of powdery, sage, ash and clover’ …mmm, perhaps not all red then…but then I did mention contrasts 😗

So like anything, frame your colour and design choices around the story of its creation, that’s what is important, it’s your individualism that gives your designs integrity and provenance – we all like a good story after all, and trend forecasters are brilliant at doing just that.


International Colour Day, 2014

Today is International Colour Day – nicely chosen to coincide with the Equinox.  Around this date, “night and day are equally long which symbolically juxtaposing the complementary nature of dark and light, of shadow and illumination, that are expressed in all human cultures“, Colour Group GB

pencil shards

To celebrate, here are some of my photos where I think colour speaks for itself. I know, I know, white isn’t a colour but I view it as utterly magnanimous because instead of absorbing or snatching wavelengths, it reflects and shares them straight back again thus becoming the most pure, peaceful and generous ‘colour’ in my mind…

White Peace

White Peace

Beautiful, Elegant Green

Beautiful, Elegant Green

Warning, Agressive Red

Warning, Agressive Red

Endlessly Creative Blue

Endlessly Creative Blue

Ray of Yellow Hope

Ray of Yellow Hope

For more colour inspiration have a look at the  Dulux Colour Awards 2014 which is run in partnership with The Guardian – definitely worth a look.

What colour are you feeling like today and how will you celebrate today, March 21st 2014, International Colour Day? 

St.Andrew’s Day and the Winner is…

It’s St.Andrew’s Day and as promised I will announce the winner of the gift pack competition, well two winners actually because my ice cold sleepy fingers pulled two names from the hat this morning.

Saltire and Union flag

I am delighted to tell you that Claire from Make Me a Frock and Sandra from The Colour of Ideas have both won their chosen gift pack. Thank you to everyone who entered and for all the ‘likes’ on my new Facebook page.

And talking of Facebook, have you ever wondered why Facebook’s page is blue? Reporter Jose Antonio Vargas asked founder Mark Zuckerberg that very question and Zuckerberg  explained he suffers from  a red-green colour blindness and that “blue is the richest colour for me — I can see all of blue.”

That’s a good practical reason to choose blue but colour perception is also based on memory of a colour. Consider how you felt as a child when your teacher marked big red crosses on wrong answers (I have real issues using red, perhaps I had rather a lot of wrong answers…) or how  you feel when you watch a red fire engine career towards a dangerous fire. Then think about a clear blue sky and you can understand why blue is such a cherished calm colour and red may stir an alert reaction in us. Of course many other factors play a role in colour perception including the colour’s wavelength and the process our brains go through to decode the wavelength into colour (red being the longest and most difficult wavelength to decode, which probably contributes to our increased heart rate when surrounded by red). life ring

Blue sky, blue sea, red and urgent looking life ring
But back to blue and I would like to wish everyone across Britain and beyond a happy St.Andrew’s Day from a beautiful clear and very cold day here in Edinburgh where there are many Creative Events taking place – I am looking forward to Karine Polwart’s concert at Queens Hall tonight, especially listening to her song, Cover Your Eyes which I first heard while watching the shocking documentary, You’ve Been Trumped a film I mentioned in Sand, Grasses and a Golf Resort.
Have a great weekend and everyone is welcome to drop in to a Christmas Open Studio Event at Red Leaf Studio, Boness this Sunday 12:00 – 4:30pm, it would be great to see you!
gull and blue sky

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.

Borrowing Themes From The Catwalk

Just in case you thought I had abandoned ship, (I was just distracted by the Olympics and  The International Edinburgh Festival) I thought I would share my photographs from the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the de Young Museum, San Francisco taken in July.

As I am not a fashion writer, I will not attempt to elaborate on the various themes and ideas behind Jean Paul Gaultier’s designs over the decades apart from to say that he is highly influenced by his grandmother whom he idolised and her collection of cloths. His designs celebrate the female form, sometimes with humorous undertones but always in ways to project inherent powers and strengths he sees in women.

As we all know, interior trends are deeply entwined with fashion trends and while looking at Gaultier’s mannequins  (which incidentally and quite unnervingly start speaking when you approach them) I enjoyed visualising potential interior projects with the colours, forms and themes Gaultier uses in his spectacular designs.

I am thinking Nautical boathouse fused with the 2012 trend for lace detailing – something Scottish lace mill MYB Textiles has been at the forefront of.

And the opulent and dominant boudoir interior…

and the current paint trend for David Oliver’s metallic mix of gold and silver for which he coined the term ‘gilver’. Celebrating the ‘hedonistic exuberance of the 1920’s ….associated with drama, power and wealth…but equally it can be simple, understated and quietly bewitching’,  David Oliver from Paint & Paper, A Master Class in Colour and Light.

with a nod to the current native interior references,

and tribal chic a predominant interior trend in 2012 where skins have been used extensively over many forms of seating –  more frequently sheepskins and deer skins draped over classic mid twentieth century Scandinavian designs.

Okay, so my parallels are a little tenuous but nevertheless they are all themes which have played a part in recent interior projects including this next image fusing punk, biker -rock, street with tartan, probably more in bars than domestic interiors but a strong influence for sure.

Talking of trends and themes, the most talked about colour for Winter 2012/13 appears to be Ox Blood, not a description I hugely cherish, perhaps an earthy beetroot cordial sounds more appealing but as it’s colour combinations that interest me I am paring the Ox blood with some squid ink (!) and I can suddenly see how this rich palette could make a big impact this Autumn.

Relish the Red

Ok, so my posts are always colour related and almost always connected with interiors but for today only, I am a food blog……only because I was inspired by the colour red.

Very often I will pick up and buy food because I am attracted either by the colour or by the packaging, see net study and clementine wrapper post. Well this week how could I walk past these ruby red jewels?

After reading about the extraordinary health benefits from eating cranberries, I set about making a raw relish. I think it would be a lovely fresh twist on the normal sugar laden cranberry sauce we eat at Christmas time.

I simply piled the following ingredients in a food processor and pulsed for about a minute;

2 cups of fresh cranberries, half an onion, a handful of fresh flat- leaf parsley, juice of one orange, a tablespoon of black currant & rosemary vinegar (I bought  Womersley vinegar because I love the artwork on the label and their vinegars are sublime), 4 fat medjool dates, 2 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup (I used Al-Rabih, Melasse de grenades). That’s it.

Back to normal with my next post – I shall leave food and health blogging to the experts – Kellie’s recipes on Food to Glow are always delicious and her knowledge of what’s good for you is amazing. But meanwhile, if you make this, I’m sure you will enjoy the vibrant green parsley stalks alongside the ruby red cranberries…..well I did.

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.

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….

Colour Notation: the Key to Describing Colour

Considering we can see approximately 10 million colours but only have eleven non- ambiguous names for them – white, black, grey, yellow, red, blue, green, brown, pink, orange and purple, it’s obvious we need a system to accurately describe what we see. Systems such as the German Ral, American Pantone and British Standard (BS) are all widely used to specify colour but the Scandinavian system NCS (Natural Colour System) I find the most logical  by far. When looking at an NCS notation, you can actually visualise the colour (without a key or fan), a very useful trick which I have not come across in any other system.

I’m looking for a blue that reminds me of this magnificent blue sky – a colour I found quickly in the NCS fan because I knew it was a blue with a touch of red (ie purplish blue) rather than a blue heading towards green.

S2060-R80B fits the bill perfectly. I shall briefly explain this notation to you.  “2060” refers to the nuance. The “20” tells me there is 20% blackness (perceived amount of blackness relative to pure black), the “60” tells me there is 60% chromaticness (saturation of hue). R80B tells me the degree of resemblance between red (R) and blue (B) in my colour. I can see that it’s red with 80% blueness and 20% redness.

NCS also have a fantastic colour picking tool which is free to download – one word of warning though – as it includes an excellent space to create palettes you may find that’s your day gone….

Colour Clarity

What is it about a tube of UHU that is just so appealing? Is it a nostalgic attraction? After all it has looked like this for decades. No, I believe it’s more than that. It has to do with colour selection.

All colours have a “value” which refers to the lightness or darkness of a hue, in other words how much black or white they contain. A hue with no black or white is a pure hue. Red is a pure hue but if you add white you create pink which is a light value of red.

However, pure hues all have different light values. Yellow happens to have the lightest value in the spectrum, in other words it is closest to white. Violet has the darkest value i.e it is furthest from white and closer to black. However, you can change the value of say violet by adding white thus creating lavender. Lavender has a light value which is opposite to it’s natural order so it is referred to as a “discord” colour.

I seemed to have digressed….back to UHU.

Pure yellow has been selected for the background (the lightest value hue), with the graphics in black (strong contrast to yellow). Research carried out by Walter Sargent and M.Luckiesch in the mid twentieth century discovered that the most legible combination of colours proved to be black graphics on a yellow background (black on white was only ranked fifth). So there we have it, a perfect colour combo for trusty old tube of UHU.

Colour expert Edith Anderson Feisner expands on this topic in her book, “Colour, in Art & Design” – a great read.