When a bouquet is not just a flower arrangement

I just heard from reader Casey, who wrote to give me the heads-up about a fabulous floral artist, David Stark, who created an amazing display for the Macy's Flower Show "Bouquet of the Day".
I'm told that most event designers participating in the event chose traditional interpretations of floral decor. David took it in a different direction with a birch paintbrush and 6-foot tower of red carnations and paint cans.
image source
It's a pretty bold use of color in a space dominated by spring pastels. I want to know how on earth he got the paint brush to "hover" like that. Must be attached with strings to the ceiling, wouldn't you imagine?

Have you ever heard of the Macy's Flower Show? Evidently, it's a pretty big deal, with cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Minneapolis participating. It took place over the last two weeks (Sunday, March 16th – Sunday, March 30th).

Here are some pictures from this year's event:
Such edible colors, I love the bright oranges and yellows paired with the more subdued green.
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Pink and green-you just can't go wrong with this pairing. I'm sure it was quite amazing in person.

I get a great deal of inspiration from natural elements like flowers. The vibrant brights, delicate pastels, deep green foliage, soft rich browns... mother nature really knows how to create some spectacular color palettes. It's simple to take colors from a bouquet, for instance, and apply them to an interior.
image source
This example is a little bold for most people's taste, but it works for this large room, to help break up an otherwise overwhelming space, and add a sense of intimacy. Certainly took guts and vision, that's for sure!

Entertainment rooms

This question just in from reader Karen:
Just wondering if you have an opinion on this please:
Is it better to have a dark color on the wall that a TV is on?
Is a flat paint preferable? -Karen
Absolutely correct on both counts. Think about movie theaters, and how dark and unobtrusive the walls appear . The objective with entertainment rooms is to keep the focus on the screen. So, by painting the wall behind the television a dark, muted tone, the wall does not compete with the tv. Any time you have a high level of contrast, such as white (walls) and black (electronics), your eye is immediately drawn to where the two extreme values meet. This is some random image I pulled off the web and then doctored to give you an example of what I mean. I wanted to show my neighbor's really great set-up in his basement, with chocolate brown walls behind his flat screen, and cappuccino-colored walls everywhere else. But I couldn't catch him in time for this article. Ah well, next time.

And as for sheen: matte or flat paint, always. Any shine to the wall might produce a reflection from light sources in the room, and distract from the tv. Not to say that I believe a room should be dominated by the television set, but from a visual ergonomics perspective, low contrast is the way to go in this situation.

Dear Paint Companies

A sneak peak into my ranting and raving about an industry annoyance. I just felt like sharing :-)

There are major paint companies out there trying to sell their paint products without offering individual color chips. How is this possible? Once you select a particular color from the paint strip, it's imperative to see the color in a bigger swatch, without the other colors around it, confusing matters.
Colors must be seen in context. For instance, if you put a green swatch against a red wall, that green will look particularly bright. However, if you put that same green swatch against a green wall, it will look like a completely different color.
image source
In this example, which green do you like better? Guess what? It's the same green.

So, with that said, take a look at how two different paint companies handle organizing their paint colors (see picture below). On the top, we have Pratt and Lambert, with light to dark, but with a range of similar hues mixed together. On the bottom, we have Benjamin Moore, with the same light to dark, but this time, with only one hue showing it's progression as white is added. This way, you can examine the deepest color on most strips and get a much better feeling for the underlying tone of the lighter colors, whose nuances are otherwise pretty difficult to see.
Which fan deck would you rather select from?

Then, we have other paint companies who have completely done away with chip samples all together! The standard for those of us who specify color is to narrow down the choices in the fan deck, then pull out a bigger chip to finalize the selection.
As you can tell, the bigger the area of color, the easier it is to get a sense of what it will look like.

If you've selected paint colors from the strips available in most paint or hardware stores, how have you found that color translates onto bigger spaces? Did you notice any differences once the color went up?

photos by moi

Fun with laptops

In this age of customization, everyday products have been infused with colors to suit anyone's personal taste. Product developers have finally clued-in that people want their possessions to reflect their personalities, or at the very least, whom they would like to be. Think about all the colorful cell phones on the market- are you the type who uses a red one? Maybe chocolate is more your speed? Color is an identifier, and can act as an extension of our personalities.

Take for example, Mac products. Everyone and her grandmother has come up with accessories to go along with iPods. Just look at the myriad of different carrying cases available:
images source
There are armbands, wristbands, docking stations, car-adapters, you name it. I have even seen knitted iPod purses. The purpose it to provide everyone with a look that suits his or her taste.
MacBook Air has an after-market customization option for adding colors to your new laptop. Of course, this service is offered through an independent provider, ColorWare, not Apple itself.

Personally, I get a kick out of their color names and descriptions:


Abyss: A deep navy blue.
Billiard: A bright, Kelly green.
Caution: A bright canary yellow.
Cobalt: A blue with grey undertones.
Coffee: A milk chocolate brown.
Concord: A medium-shade purple… your basic purple, slightly muted.
Cotton Candy: A bright carnation pink, with hints of blue undertones.
Crush: A very bright, standard orange.
Ferrari: A bright, standard red... basically, the good old fire engine red.
Fusion: A vibrant fuchsia. Our darkest shade of pink.
Glacier: A bright blue-green.
Jade: A springtime green with slight blue undertones.
Jet Black: Standard, deep, dark black... think piano black.
Romance: A pale, baby girl pink. The lightest pink shade.
Smoke White: Standard, bright white.


Alpine: A vibrant crayon-box green.
Blaze: A slightly muted standard orange.
Blush: A medium rose pink and the 2nd darkest shade of pink (Fusion is darker).
Candy Apple: A deep, dark red. Definitely not burgundy.
Carbon Black: A standard black, lightened just a touch by the metallics. Not a grey.
Dragon: A deep forest green.
Envy: A very bright, lime green.
Hybrid: A burnt red-orange.
Gold Rush: A rich gold with noticeable, large grain flakes.
Graphite: A medium-dark grey with very fine grain flakes.
Lightning: A muted tawny yellow with slight green undertones.
Lilac: A light dusty lavender.
Midnight: Standard crayon blue, with a little pizzazz.
Mystique: A bright, royal purple.
Powder: A dusty, muted, grey-blue.
Prowler: A deep, dark purple with reddish undertones.
Sand: A bright taupe, resembles a dark beach sand.
Steel: A silver with highly noticeable, large grain flakes.
Techno: A bright, vibrant blue.
Wet: A bright light blue, almost a baby blue.
It's about time we see some color infused onto laptops, don't you agree? The site allows you to play around with how you would customize your personal laptop-give it a whirl and let us know what you designed!
image source (via Design Hole)
If I had my own laptop, and didn't share one with my husband, this is how I would decorate it.
How cool is that?!

Welcome new readers

Hello and welcome! I assume if you're a new reader, you've most likely come via the Washington Post article. Thanks so much for stopping by to check out Hue. If this visit were in person, I'd offer to make you a cup of tea :-)

My thing is sharing color inspirations-in whatever form it might come in. Could be a gorgeous interior, unique architecture, fun new product line, gallery exhibit... if it has something to do with color, I want to talk about it. I really encourage reader participation, so if a post catches your interest, I love to hear your reactions, get a little dialog going, and mix it up a bit.

Atonement movie sets tell a story

Recently, my book club read Atonement by Ian McEwan. Afterwards, I felt compelled to see the movie, to see how true to the novel they stayed. Of course, as is often the case with me, I got wrapped up in the set design, color and the subplot it created. Movies are a great way to get ideas for your own decorating schemes, and drives home the point that your environment absolutely sets a mood. To get the scoop, I headed over to my favorite set design site, Set Decorators Society of America. Joy of joys, there was an article about Atonement's sets.

Atonement follows the consequences of an impressionable girl's tragic misreading of events at an upper-class English home in the years leading up to World War II.

“As our story goes through the house, it starts off in the drawing room and it’s all very light and lovely and then as the story progresses during the day, it actually gets darker and darker.”-Production Designer Sarah Greenwood
“The kitchen and the back corridors are all that horrible color of arsenic green, absolutely virulent. We loved it because it had something of the color of poison, but it equally had a verdancy about it, a summer greenness. So we painted everything in Stokesay that green and terrible cream." -Greenwood
Doesn't knowing that make watching a movie all that more interesting? What movies can you recall that really use the sets and color to add to character or plot development?
Please share!

More MoMA fun

Reader Sarah wrote in to tell me about Color Chart, a flash-based site created in conjunction with the New York City MoMA exhibit on color. Thanks for the tip!
It's really well-done: viewers get to see examples of the pieces in the exhibit, all neatly categorized, complete with little explanations of the artist's concept, history, or inspiration.
For instance, "Green Screen", by Liz Deschenes.
"The subject of this photograph is a green screen on view at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas. Green screens are used in film production to save time and money. Actors are filmed in a studio in front of the screen, and the green background is later replaced with final background footage. Deschenes has made a monochrome image in a color valued for its technical utility rather than its aesthetic quality and whose function ultimately leads to its own eradication."

You can browse through the exhibit by Artist,Timeline,or Media.

I was tickled to see some art that pretty closely reflects a recent exercise I did with my color theory students at MICA. See, guys, you were creating art!

It's fun to poke around and see how artists played with the theory behind ready-made colors. When does something go from art, to utility? Where do you draw the line? Pretty interesting stuff...

images source

Check for me on Thursday

I'm really excited for Thursday. Two weeks ago, the Washington Post called to interview me for a print article they are putting together about paint in their Home section. It was great fun, the journalist ask me all sorts of questions about paint, color consulting, and blogging, and I just babbled on and on. I could talk about those topics indefinitely! Then last week, I was invited to the Post's photography studio in downtown DC to pose for the cover of the section. Needless to say, I was super nervous in front of the camera, but the photographer and art director were very encouraging and sweet. I felt like this was my America's Next Top Model moment, complete with hot lights and everything. All we were missing were fans blowing for that sexy hair look...

Hopefully, I can locate the article online, and will post a link to it. Otherwise, head for your local newsstand on Thursday the 20th to take a peak!

Update: the article is online now!

The sound of color

The Gap is dabbling in branding via some creative mediums. Their latest endeavor? Sound of Color, a website which explores how musicians and directors would interpret a color into music and a video. While I applaud the concept and creative attempt at branching out, I'm not so sure the interpretations work all too successfully. You'll have to listen to a few of the tracks and tell me what you think.
Still from Blue video
The idea of associating a color with one or more of our five senses is called synesthasia. Imagine the color pink-it evokes an association with a smell, taste, sound, even texture. It's sweet smelling/tasting, has a soft delicate sound, and a fine texture. Don't believe me? Just head to your supermarket and check out the packaging for products. Think about how they are used, who uses them, and the message marketers are trying to sell you. Beauty products- it's no coincidence there are so many bottles and tubes in pink and purple. After all, women want to smell sweet and feminine after using them, right?

Anyways, share with us what you thought of the music videos. Did you think they reflected the color they tried to capture?

Yay for daring colors

For those of you who are completely petrified to try color, this one's for you. Go from beige to bravo!

Here's a great example of working with a space, instead of against it. Sometimes, when people are faced with small, dark spaces, their first reaction is to try to lighten it up, and make it feel bigger. Instead, embrace it for what it offers. Like with tiny powder rooms- there is no way you can deceive people into believing it's a big space. Often called "jewel-boxes", they can be painted deep, rich colors, and offer delightful surprises for those who enter.
This room was the darkest in the house, and didn't really serve any purpose. Now, with the cozy deep eggplant walls, luxurious cranberry seating, and whitewashed table, it's a dedicated study that is much more inviting and snug.
Here, this bedroom lacked much personality. Add a splash of color, change the seating, hang a low chandelier to anchor the space, and suddenly, you have a much more interesting, modern space.
See, pink doesn't have to be over the top feminine if you temper it with crisp white and a strong graphic rug. Which room draws you in?
image source

Ready-made color at the MoMA

Reader Janel wrote in with this tip-thanks!
The NYC Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a new exhibit up dedicated to the exploration of color from the perspective of contemporary artists who "assign color decisions to chance, readymade source, or arbitrary system." In other words, they viewed color not as something to create and personalize, mixing just the right tint, tone, or shade, but as a commercial product.

Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today
Held in conjunction with this exhibit is Color Lab, an interactive exhibit where families can play around with color. That's where you'd find me, if I lived just a teensy bit closer to New York city...

A little explanation of the exhibit from the MOMA website explains further.
The Romantic quest for personal expression instead became Andy Warhol's "I want to be a machine;" the artistry of mixing pigments was eclipsed by Frank Stella's "Straight out of the can; it can't get better than that."
image source Frank Stella, Gran Cairo. (1962)

Interestingly, Benjamin Moore paints is sponsoring this exhibit. Smart cross-marketing move on their part, wouldn't you say?

Mauve and all its variations

There's a great little post over at Pigtown*Design on a pink called "Ashes of Roses". I've never heard that term used before (evidently was very popular in the 30's and 40's).

After seeing the color, I immediately pegged it as an iteration of mauve, making its grand comeback after a hiatus from the 1980's, when we all became terribly over-saturated with it. Take this lovely 80's style bedroom...
image source
The whole mauve and gray combo was way overdone, and like many other color trends (ie. olive green) that came before it, needed 30 years to get out of our systems before it could come back without the public wincing.

Ick, can you stand it yet?