Colour of the day: Ultramarine Blue Simple description: a deep vivid blue
Notes for usage: Ultramarine blue is high energy. Its vibrant, mesmerising glow is so powerful, that it even adds zing to shady spaces. This colour is always a statement. Consider softening it with chalky white for small spaces, to avoid an overwhelming effect. Even little amounts of this colour will draw attention.
For a straight, graphic look try pairing it with crisp white and black. Small accents of Ultramarine next to gentle pinks make the colour seem more approachable. The brave add a colour pop with crimson red or neon orange; however, I would recommend sticking to homoeopathic doses, unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
Made globally recognised by artist Yves Klein, who described the colour as the expression of ultimate freedom, it has never lost its edgy appearance since the 1960s. Historically, ultramarine blues were won from ground Lapislazuli, meaning they were extremely expensive for centuries. Synthetic ultramarines are cheap, which make them popular choices for mixing wall paint or neutralising unwanted yellow tinges from paper to bleached hair.
For surface design, I prefer ultra-matte, dry-looking finishes for these shades of blue, to not take anything away from the depth and intensity of the colour. Glossy ceramics can work well though, particularly when handmade effects are still visible. High-shine surfaces can seem artificial and but also visionary. Admittedly, Ultramarine Blue is not the easiest colour to work with on a large scale, but sometimes that is exactly where the serious excitement starts.
PS: I had shared information about ultramarine blue before, but this colour group continues to grow in imporatance from product to lighting design.
Feeling ready for Spring Summer 2021? Baked and faded tones are reminiscent of the warmth of sun-soaked days spent in laid-back retreats in Southern Provence.
‘La Belle Vie’ is one of the trend stories I developed with my team at Trend Bible in early 2019. It´s lovely seeing what we predicted to gain importance on the high street now. The palette I designed for this modern rustic look is still one of my favourites with its nonchalantly relaxed charm.
When I selected the nuances I made sure they work in various lighting conditions – not just in regions naturally gifted with more sunshine. The palette certainly still cheers me up and I love how versatile it is. You can easily combine any of the shades with each other.
Colour of the day: Celadon Green Simple description: a pale greyish green
Notes for usage: As with all colours in this series, celadon green is not a standardized colour but should rather be understood as a range of grey-toned light greens. Its base can range from neutral green (balanced between yellow and blue) to slightly yellowish greens, however, celadon greens always emanate softness and a certain elegance. They became famous through Chinese pottery, where those kinds of greenwares were highly regarded for centuries due to their resemblance of jade. The term is most likely of French origin.
Celadon green is fairly easy to use, as it works with any kind of architecture from embellished and historic to slick and contemporary. It is open to harmonising with gentle to bold and light to dark colours. A personal favourite is a combination with midnight blue and/or cognac brown. I also love a small coral red colour pop when celadon is the main colour.
What´s interesting about this shade is, that it changes its overall appearance dramatically, when paired with different coloured metals. With silver it seems airy and almost transparent, gold adds warmth and weight, copper makes it appear more dynamic and rose-gold is just dreamy. Celadon green works from powdery matte to high-shine finishes. In shady lighting conditions, it shifts more towards grey from the green but stays pleasant on the eye.
Colour of the day: Plaster Pink Simple description: a subtle earthy pink
Notes for usage: This is THE colour to use if you want all the positive connotations of pink, without its stereotypical clichés. It is soft, but not sweet and more grown-up than many other nuances in the pink colour family. Plaster Pink is, well, the colour of setting plaster. Bridging the gap between beige and pink it is reminiscent of sandstone. Its constructive qualities make it an excellent architectural colour.
Did you know it was also popular during the Modernist Movement? Don´t let yourself be fooled by black-and-white imagery of the time. Le Corbusier and various artists at the Bauhaus appreciated its natural, warm and unobtrusive appearance. Back in the day mixing red earth pigments with white chalk for outdoor rendering and indoor plaster was very common. With a renewed focus on natural dyes and paints, these colourants have made a strong comeback in contemporary colour design.
With grey wall paint having long reached the mass market, we see a rising interest in chromatic neutrals. Plaster Pink is getting increasingly popular for large scale use in interior design. This chalky just-about-pink is comforting and warming at any time of the day. When it is kissed by the golden glow of a setting sun then magic happens.
Plaster pink is easy to use for surface designers, as it works well in any lighting condition. However, it lends itself particularly well for dry, matt finishes. When newness and longevity need to be paired, this is a suitable colour choice to update tech products and homeware ranges.
Colour of the day: Burnt Sienna Simple description: a dark, deep orange (brown)
Notes for usage: Radiating warmth Burnt Sienna works well from dusk till dawn. Originally derived from earth pigments containing iron and manganese oxide, it is named after the Italian city of Siena, which has a rich history of producing clay colours. With a Renaissance natural colourants and a growing appetite for warmer hues, expect to see shades of earthy tones rise in popularity in the years to come. It’s visually stabilising qualities make Burnt Sienna suitable as an architectural colour on a large scale. Mixed with white, you can achieve beautifully sophisticated pastel shades. For surface design, consider juxtaposing matte and polished finishes to add interest to its naturally rustic appearance.
Circular economy and zero waste were amongst the big buzz words before the coronavirus sadly became the nearly all-consuming topic in recent weeks. Sustainability may have taken a backseat in public discourse, for the time being, and yet it has never been more important to reconsider how we want to use our resources.
Standing in a field of fluffy cellulose fibres on Labour Day, as I helped my brother build his house this bank holiday weekend, I found myself thinking about waste materials and the meaning of sustainability as a whole.
Cellulose, derived from paper waste, has excellent thermal qualities. Naturally moisture-regulating, this recycled material only needs mixing with mineral salts and milling to become resistant against rotting and fire. Available in abundance, it is also a more affordable alternative, than many other natural materials for floor insulation, such as hemp or wool waste products.
Insulation materials may not draw as much attention on Social Media, than uber-styled, zero waste personal care flat lays. However, choosing sustainable building materials has potentially a much higher impact on our environment. This is not to say the many small personal efforts, people make towards a bigger goal, are not beneficial. I just wish we looked at sustainability more holistically.
As I was evenly spreading the cellulose fibres my mind wandered to other waste materials, that impressed me in recent years. I remembered seeing Jessica den Hartog´s ‚Recoloured‘ prototype series, for the first time in real life, during the London Design Festival 2018. Since then, the material-forward designer has evolved to become a sustainable plastic expert. She has collaborated with numerous creatives, to give a new lease of life to post-consumer plastic waste.
As opposed to industrially recycled HDPE (a type of plastic often used for household detergent containers etc.), which is fused to form a grey mass, Jessica manually sorts the waste plastic by colour. Using the inherent pigments she develops a beautiful portfolio of textures and products obtained from waste material.
Secondly, Dirk Vander Kooij´s ‚Meltingpot‘ series popped up before my imaginary eye. It is another fabulous example of urban mining (extraction of valuable materials from landfills). This detail shows the mesmerising effect created with polycarbonate sourced from thrown out CDs. Unfortunately, the CD has been an invention like many others, rendered obsolete within a decade, and billions will remain in landfills for many years to come.
Dirk Vander Kooij crafts captivating furniture, suited for indoor and outdoor spaces, public and private alike. The designer describes the result as waste being ‚affectionately remoulded into indestructible tables‘. His collection also sports unique chairs and benches. As I prepared the cellulose to fit under the floor, I realised Dutch design studios have been particularly strong in delivering innovative surface design lately.
Still, designers upgrading waste to something precious is a global phenomenon, that has grown exponentially in recent years. My hands-on experience, working with the cellulose fibres, prompted me to remember many more naturally sustainable material innovations. One of them is ‚Totomoxtle‘, a veneer offering an intriguing and sustainable alternative to wood. Mexican product and material designer Fernando Laposse works with corn husks, an ordinary by-product in agricultural farming, to create refined, highly aesthetic designs.
Similar in essence, Israeli designer Shahar Livne´s ‚Meat Factory Bio-Leather‘, derived from slaughterhouse waste streams, utilises blood, fat and bones, which are usually just discarded. Although the vegan debate has gained momentum in previous years, global meat consumption is steadily rising.
Remembering the bio-leather brought me back full circle to my childhood, where I often spent time at my grandmother‘s organic milk farm, close to the house we currently build. I was the only vegetarian in my family since I was five years old. Nevertheless, back then it was the most natural thing in the world to watch my grandmother produce black pudding, innards specialities and sausage. After a cow was slaughtered (usually one a year) most parts were processed, as it was indispensable for small farmers since the beginning of time. These days wastefulness as a status symbol is rejected by a growing number of the general global population in theory, yet not fully lived.
To summarise, I believe true sustainability means we all need to see beyond our personal preferences and the simplified interpretation of trends. Sustainability does not just mean natural. Sustainability does not just mean plastic-free. Sustainability does not just mean vegan. Sustainability means actively supporting circular models, responsibly working with the resources we have. We need to think of all the waste created as a side product every day and re-use the base materials, once a product has reached the end of its lifespan. In a complex world, it is too uni-dimensional to just hope for a one-fits-all solution for sustainability. Valuable materials can come from the humblest of sources and products associated with a negative image.
Sometimes it needs a monotonous task like insulating a floor, to spark the idea of writing a blog article on some of the materials I discover during my research work. As a design consultant and trend forecaster, I specialise in balancing newness with sustainability and commercial viability. I closely monitor emerging tendencies in interior, material and surface design, which I predominantly share with other industry professionals. But as sustainability can´t take a backseat any longer, despite the Covid19 crisis, I want to share more insights with a broader audience.
Contact me via email@example.com if you need support on choosing the right materials, colours and finishes for your next project or your product ranges.