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Posts Tagged ‘Color’

House in Hawaii, The Wiseman Group and architect Ricardo Legoretta
photo – Matthew Millman

I was just reading an article in Fast Company about why generalizing is often better than specializing in the job market, despite the push we’ve seen for decades to specialize, and it got me thinking of one of my pet peeves in the interior design world.

Today, most business consultants who work with interior designers are advising us to specialize for marketing reasons, often in a particular style or look, or targeting a particular demographic, which I think is a huge mistake.  Clients also often look for designers who do the particular style they want to the exclusion of everything else, thereby likely ruling out a tremendous number of other highly competent designers who might actually do an even better job for them.

Oftentimes designers who only work in one style are basically repeating what they themselves prefer, which is fine if that’s what you really want, but if you want a really creative, and truly customized design, you want someone who has the ability to bring as broad a set of resources and skills to the table as possible – and the interest in doing so.  It takes a little more work to keep up on a wider range of resources, to be sure, and not all designers really want to be bothered.

Apartment on Nob Hill, The Wiseman Group
photo – Tim Street-Porter

Speaking from experience as someone who has worked for and learned a great deal from a very gifted designer who nevertheless tends to stick to a similar aesthetic for all projects, it can also get really boring to a creative mind that gets fired up by a range of options and the process of really digging in and solving the specific problems each individual client has in a unique way, not applying the same solution to them all.  Working in aesthetics other than those towards which one is personally inclined is a key way to keep the creative fires stoked, in what is fundamentally a creative discipline, and to keep that saw sharp.

The thing is, the fundamentals of the interior design, and the design process itself, are largely the same regardless of style, and a good designer who wants to create truly personalized solutions will deliberately cultivate the ability to work comfortably in a wide range of aesthetics.

The Wiseman Group
photo – Matthew Millman

What really matters most is the ability to truly listen to the client, and then to translate the client’s desires into tangible reality, and that entails a skill set that is completely independent of the style or color scheme selected.  Scale is scale, balance is balance, etc., whether you are dealing with a modern building or a traditional one, and if someone is really good with color, they should be able to produce a wonderful color scheme in any hue in the rainbow.

Anyone can learn to repeat the same basic thing over and over again, but a big part of the point of hiring an interior designer is to have a customized solution that is unique to you and your own particular needs and style, and of course the architectural realities of your own home or office.

The reality is that not every designer can actually do it – or wants to be bothered.

Seeing projects that all look similar in someone’s portfolio raises the question about how versatile that designer really is.  When you see a range of project styles that are all well done, you know you’re dealing with someone who has the ability to really customize as needed, and likely has a wider range of resources to bring to bear on the project as well.  It takes more work to keep up on that range, but that also means the designer is clearly exposing herself to a wide range of options on a regular and ongoing basis – which can only mean good things for clients.

One of the world’s greatest designers, the Paul Vincent Wiseman of The Wiseman Group, who has long been one of my most revered design heroes, regularly demonstrates his ability to work brilliantly in virtually any style, as the contrasting photos above of his work attest.  The first two projects shown, both frequently published and among my favorites of his work, could not be more different – the first, an apartment in an historic landmark building on top of San Francisco’s Nob Hill; the second, a vacation home in Hawaii built by one of the foremost modernist architects of our time.  The third, equally distinct from the first two, is an estate in the Napa Valley with a 20th century design aesthetic with midcentury touches in a house built in a somewhat Spanish colonial style.

This is really what it means to be a great designer, in my opinion.  You know just by looking at the range of his projects that Wiseman has both listened to and actually heard what his clients have said they wanted – and then delivered.  Many of his clients have done multiple projects with him that span a wide range of styles, and he has to be able to handle that range, or frankly, he’d lose those clients to someone else when they want a different aesthetic in a new home.  You know without asking that he could do anything asked of him, even if he hasn’t shown an example of that style or project type in his portfolio.  Whether you like these particular examples or not, and regardless of your preference for these color schemes or others, these projects share the qualities of being perfectly scaled and designed for their respective spaces and environments, and every detail contributes harmoniously to the whole.

When you get into things like green design, aging-in-place/accessible/universal design, commercial design, or design for special functions like doctors’ offices or jails, then you do indeed get into a greater need for specialization and often additional training beyond that which is usually taught in design school.   When dealing with nonresidential environments, building codes tend to play a larger role than they do in private homes, and the more specialized the function of the space, the more specialized the code and other technical issues.

Aging-in-place, etc. is becoming the big buzz word these days, and there is clearly growing demand, but I’ve encountered very few designers who have actually got the necessary training, or who otherwise show they’ve learned what they actually need to know to work with this specialized and growing market effectively, dealing with both the architectural requirements down to the selection of fabrics, colors, and furniture styles that are best for this market or subsets of it.  With a few exceptions, most I’ve seen only understand part of the requirements.  Strangely, most people who are Certified Aging in Place Specialists (a designation I hold, as one of only about four such certified interior designers in Northern CA) aren’t even designers, and while they could certain tell you where to put grab bars and how to build a ramp, and maybe do the work to install them, many couldn’t design their way out of a paper bag and integrate accessibility features into an overall beautiful aesthetic that doesn’t scream “institution” or “add-on” at you because they are simply not trained as designers.

For the vast majority of interior designers, however, and certainly within residential design or commercial design as broad overall categories, the ability to generalize and work in a wider range of styles is truly an asset, and the mark of a really proficient creative person – and one who is truly more interested in giving clients what they want than imposing a particular style upon them. Whether your project is a large estate or a single small room, wouldn’t you really rather know that this is your designer’s honest focus?

It is, of course, essential that your designer fully understand the code issues that are involved in whatever type of project you have, but at the end of the day, the way most people interface with their space demands the ability to produce the creative vision, and to make the technical matters disappear and to function seamlessly behind the scenes, supporting the overall desired function and aesthetic of the space.

If the designer is properly conversant with residential codes, she will be able to deal with them whether it’s a modern building or an older one, and the same for the commercial designer int he world of office buildings.  Some designers know both, but not all.  Don’t assume; ask what types of projects they have done and/or are trained to do.  Just because there isn’t an example in her portfolio of exactly the type of space your project entails doesn’t mean she isn’t trained to handle it and can’t still do an excellent job.  (Beware if the designer doesn’t know that there are huge code differences, however!  And that they may need to use different contractors for different job types.)

It takes staying on top of continuing education whether it is required for local certification or not to maintain one’s knowledge of the technical side of things (and doing that is vastly more important in the end than any alphabet soup of professional designations a designer may or may not choose to obtain – and almost all of them are entirely optional and not required in any way by the vast majority of states and countries), but it is critically important not to forget the creative side of things, either, and to select a designer who shows she has the ability to do what a range of work, and to think outside the box.

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Sensible and spirited define the fall 2011 palette

CARLSTADT, N.J.—Pantone LLC, a market authority on color and leading provider of professional color standards for the design industries, has unveiled the PANTONE® Fashion Color Report Fall 2011. The color report features the top 10 colors for women’s fashion for fall 2011, along with designer sketches, quotes and headshots. It is is available for free download at Pantone’s website.

The release of the PANTONE Fashion Color Report coincides with Fashion Week in New York City. This season’s report also includes the most directional hues for men’s fall 2011 fashion. The top colors for women’s fashion for fall 2011 are:

PANTONE 14-0740 Bamboo

PANTONE 17-1547 Emberglow

PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle

PANTONE 19-2820 Phlox

PANTONE 16-0526 Cedar

PANTONE 19-4914 Deep Teal

PANTONE 18-0930 Coffee Liqueur

PANTONE 16-1320 Nougat

PANTONE 13-3805 Orchid Hush

PANTONE 15-4305 Quarry

“Designers take a painterly approach to fall 2011 by artfully combining bright colors with staple neutrals, reminiscent of how an artist would construct a stunning work of art,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Much like a painter’s masterpiece, there is a certain romance to this season’s palette.”

Bamboo, a surprising fall hue, brings a warm, exotic flavor to the season. Like a filtered sunset on the waning days of fall, Bamboo is a standout yellow with a subtle green undertone. This dappled shade pairs dramatically with several of the top 10, including Phlox, Teal and Honeysuckle.

Radiant Emberglow, a traditional autumnal tone, emanates the warmth of a glowing fire – the perfect panacea to the crisp air of fall. Combine Emberglow with Coffee Liqueúr for a classic look, or with Honeysuckle for something a bit more retro. Add a spark with shoes or a handbag in Emberglow, or perhaps a patterned scarf combining purpled Phlox or Deep Teal.

Offering a sense of continuity from spring, dynamic Honeysuckle adds a bold punctuation point. This playful, reddish pink works with any other color in the palette, especially fall staples like Coffee Liqueúr and Nougat. To add some intensity, pair it with complementary Bamboo. Flirtatious and festive, Honeysuckle produces a healthy glow – great for cosmetics and holiday soirees.

Phlox, a magical, deep purple with a hint of mystery, is an outstanding statement when worn on its own. Add Phlox to this season’s neutrals to create a bit of drama, or combine it with Cedar, Deep Teal or Coffee Liqueur for something extraordinary. To add even more excitement, pair Phlox with Honeysuckle or Bamboo against a Cedar background – a combination inspired by Mother Nature.

Evoking the freshness of a cool mist in a dark forest, Cedar is a versatile, mid-tone neutral green. It is a natural with Deep Teal, and sophisticated and timeless with Phlox or Orchid Hush. Deep Teal, a strong, blue-toned green, suggests ocean depths and the color of the sky as daylight descends into darkness. A great standard when used with Cedar, its color-wheel neighbor, Deep Teal is also a unique counterpoint to Honeysuckle.

Consumers continue to add stability to their wardrobes with neutrals. Rich, decadent Coffee Liqueúr brings a sense of elegance to fall, and is a savory alternative to basic black. A deliciously warm camel tan, Nougat is tastefully embellished by Phlox, Emberglow or Honeysuckle. Orchid Hush, a unique tone of gray with complex orchid undertones, blends well with any other color in the palette. Quarry, a reliable medium gray, remains, as always, a practical, dependable staple.

For over 17 years, Pantone, the global authority on color, has surveyed the designers of New York Fashion Week and beyond to bring you the season’s most important color trends. This report previews the most prominent hues for fall 2011.

The colors featured in the PANTONE Fashion Color Report are culled from the PANTONE FASHION + HOME Color System, the most widely used and recognized color standards system in the world. Each season, Pantone surveys the designers of New York Fashion Week and beyond to collect feedback on prominent collection colors, color inspiration and color philosophy. This information is used to create the PANTONE Fashion Color Report, which serves as a reference tool throughout the year for fashion enthusiasts, reporters and retailers.

– From Interiors and Sources and the Pantone website.  The Pantone site has marvelous sketches; please look at them!  Each color also links to more sketches and information.

If you want a beautiful, color-filled home that you will delight in and which will support and enhance your lifestyle regardless of your age or ability level, please contact Wendy at Hoechstetter Interiors for an evaluation of your present home or new construction project, and for assistance in creating the forever home of your dreams, no matter what your color preferences.

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Image from Sparkly Like a Holiday

OK, I admit it.  I’m stealing this topic from Paul Anater, over at Kitchen and Residential Design.  But I’m not going to say the same things.

Yes, I quite agree that chalkboard paint is overdone – and way overdone in several of the images he shows.  It’s old.  It’s boring.  It’s dated.  There are clearly limits to its usefulness, safety, and definitely to its appearance.  Not only can it be toxic when it gets into your food as Paul mentions, but chalk dust can also be a major problem for people who have allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities, so it would not foster an accessible design for people who suffer from such afflictions.  It would also violate universal and visitability design principles, as it could create a similar hazard for other users of the space, particularly visitors whose sensitivities might be unknown.  Chalk dust doesn’t do anything for overall air quality, either, so that lowers the green design reusability quotient of the paint, never mind what the VOC content of it might be.

Now that we’ve looked at the potential health hazards, let’s focus more on the visual elements.

Looking at the images Paul posted, the ones that really offend me the most are the refrigerator fully covered in the dreadful green version of the paint, that huge, frightening expanse of black wall and door, and yes, that hideous kitchen. (more…)

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(ARA) – When you think of the colors associated with fall, green doesn’t necessarily come to mind. Environmentally speaking, however, it should. There’s no better time than now to lessen your home’s impact on the environment and change the way you decorate and live. So, why not go green this fall? It’s not nearly as difficult to become earth-friendly as you might think.

“From products that contribute to good indoor air quality to ones that truly reflect the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra, the number of affordable green interior decorating products has literally exploded within the past five years,” says Donna Schroeder, Dutch Boy color marketing and design manager.9119_B53_rgb

These days, you can find stylish, eco-friendly design elements for every room in the house. And, contrary to popular belief, going green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style for sustainability. The two can coexist quite effortlessly.

You can start simple by dressing your bed in luxurious sheets, throws and comforters made from fabrics such as rich, renewable bamboo or soft, organic cotton. Cover your floors with formaldehyde-free carpets constructed of recycled fibers or select a natural material, like stone, slate or even concrete. Then, hang energy-efficient window treatments with high insulation and shading properties.

Don’t stop there. Spice up your tired sofa with a design-forward slipcover and throw pillows crafted from 100 percent recycled materials. Add bright recycled glass plates and serving pieces to your china cabinet. Buy furniture made from sustainably harvested wood or, better yet, visit local secondhand shops and repurpose. Or, look around your own home and see what you already have that can be adapted for a new use. You’d be surprised what a little creativity and some good old-fashioned elbow grease can do.

If you’re looking to add bold, fun color, paint fits perfectly into this overall green scheme. It’s an inexpensive, effective and, most importantly, environmentally-minded way to change the look and feel of an entire room. Many paint manufacturers now offer coatings that contain few, if any, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or vapors that are released from paint as it dries.

Using paints formulated without VOCs, such as Dutch Boy’s new Refresh interior paint with exclusive odor-eliminating Arm & Hammer technology, takes your home one step closer to reducing your environmental impact while leaving your interior looking fresh, modern and filled with personality.

Many home improvement products, including Refresh, are also Indoor Air Quality certified by The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, a nonprofit, industry-independent organization that certifies indoor products that meet satisfactory indoor air emissions standards.

Keep in mind that greening your home, inside or out, doesn’t happen in a matter of minutes or even overnight. It’s an ongoing process. The limit to how green your home can be is up to how willing you are to adjust your lifestyle. The choice is yours. “It doesn’t take any grand gestures to start going green,” Schroeder says. “Tiny changes add up to make a big overall impact on the environment.”

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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What color should you use in spaces utilized for detail-oriented vs creative tasks? New research from the University of British Columbia and published in Science Magazine* indicates that the use of red may be best to use in spaces that require sustained, focussed attention, as it may enhance performance on detailed tasks. Blue, on the other hand, was found to possibly encourage creative thinking.

Psychologically, red stimulates brain waves, and increases both heart rate and blood pressure, while blue is a calming color that decreases blood pressure and respiration.

The problem with this study, however, is that the subjects came from Canada, mainland China, and Hong Kong, with no indication of how many came from which location, and so the results may not be generalizeable, especially to the US or the rest of the West. This is in part because color has very different cultural meanings in China vs the West (and indeed different still in other cultures), which may very well affect the outcome of studies of this nature, despite any physiological impacts it may have. It’s impossible to imagine anyone being able to fully separate their psyche from their cultural surroundings and what they were raised with.

In the US, red is the color of power, excitement, anger, love, danger, and passion. In China, it symbolizes good luck. A yang color, in feng shui (a Chinese tradition), red represents fire, good luck, money, respect, recognition, and vitality.

In the US, blue represents conservativism, depression, sadness, and a bridal tradition, while in China, it is the color of immortality. In feng shui, it is a yin color that symbolizes water, calm, love, healing, relaxing, peace, trust, adventure, and exploration.

Because of the strong influence of the environment upon us in many ways, it would be a mistake to believe that what we “know” about the psychology of color is the same across cultures, absent any awareness of research that would prove otherwise. Does anyone know of any studies that have been done on the psychological effects of color in cultures other than in the US/Canada?

All that said, however, this is still interesting information. Try it yourself and see what effects working around or with each color may have on your ability to perform!

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Author(s): Ravi Mehta and Rui (Juliet) Zhu, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Article Title: Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Performance

Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Publication Type: Refereed Journal

Date of Publication: 2009

Funder/Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to R.J.Z.

ISSN: 0036-8075

Volume: 323

Issue: 5918

Pages: 1226-1229



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