Restaurant transformation

Bossy color has a great post up about a recent restaurant renovation she helped with.
Ava's Pizzeria is a family-friendly restaurant on the eastern shore of Maryland.Starting from scratch, they were working with a completely blank slate. Her client initially only wanted a colored accent wall, and luckily, Annie was able to convince them to go all out, and add color everywhere, including the ceilings! Establishing a mood, defining distinct dining areas, and really solidifying the character of the restaurant- it turned out really nicely, don't you think?

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What do sick kids really want

In my latest color obsession, my quest to find hospital interiors that cater to the treatment and recovery of patients, I've found some rather interesting examples.St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN has the right idea in keeping a child active and engaged during their sometimes lengthy stays in the hospital. They have created spaces literally covered in murals and visual stimulation to stimulate a child's imagination and interest. Representing different areas of Memphis, it's like taking a virtual tour of the city through the halls of the hospital.

Unfortunately, I think it's bit over the top, and runs towards the side of over-stimulation. There is so much going on, visually, that it's a bit dizzying.

Because of the long lengths-of-stay children may experience, the artists attempted to provide enough detail so that viewers would need a long time to discover every event, place, and character. In response to patients' comments that certain patterns and colors reminded them of unpleasant chemotherapy drugs, the artists avoided using moiré patterns and large color fields in oranges, yellows, and chartreuse.(source)
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I do like that the hospital is working to engage the patients, get them playing and interested in their surroundings. They obviously wanted to create an environment that fosters healing, encouraging the children to stay engaged, or at the very least, distracted.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric hospital employed a similar concept with their design, but with a bit more of a branded, sophisticated approach. With several campuses, the hospital re-design included a cohesive color palette and look that is shared amongst the buildings. With a master plan documenting the colors, finishes, and materials, the hospitals can easily pick one of the palettes out of the master plan books and implement it at a satellite clinic or new addition.
The eight palettes are all derived from natural elements. Rather than the dated palette of pinks and teals common in hospital facilities, the design team looked to the vibrant essence of fuchsia, mango and lime for inspiration.(source)
Additional color was added through lighted nodes in the ceiling, painted to reflect the specific department palette. Casting colors down across the floor, the lights also serve as navigational aids marking for way finding.

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Making an environment more user-friendly makes a world of difference, not only for the patients, but the staff and the parents of patients. “The parents are so grateful that the new space is improved and brighter, and even the attitude of staff members has picked up because they like the space.” is the feedback on the hospital's redesign.(source)

Color Picker

Reader Marie wrote me about this cool new color-picker program that works in conjunction with Flickr. It's called Multicolr.
We color consultants are rather obsessed with hues, so I really enjoyed playing with this new program.
You start by selecting the colors you are looking to match, then flickr searches its extensive database, and pulls up examples of photos that use your specified palette.Viola! How cool is that?
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Evidence-based hospital design

Most hospitals give me the creeps. They are sterile, disorienting, and intimidating places. Down never-ending hallways, harsh fluorescent lights glare off of cold white walls and gray linoleum flooring. Not my favorite place to visit.
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Ug, I know this is supposed to be an improvement, as the color below the chair-rail is different, but yuck. Typical hospital...

But thankfully, changes are being made. Today’s leading healthcare design professionals are using principals of evidence-based design to create a “total healing environment” for patients, families and staff. They are looking for ways to reduce stress and encourage healing through design.

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What a novel concept! Well, to designers and most of you who read this blog, I would think it's a no-brainer. But I am amazed by the lack of understanding that runs rampant in the commercial development world. It's all about the bottom line, and what will make the most money. So, if standard fluorescent tubes are cheaper than full spectrum compact fluorescents, the price always wins, even though the therapeutic value of full spectrum lighting has been proven to improve an environment's conditions.

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But where is the most important place to add color to a hospital? Tara Hill, a designer who deals specifically with medical facilities, says this: "You have to start with the patient experience. From the moment the patient walks through the door, you have to make them comfortable and let them know they are in safe hands. You have to start with the lobby and follow the patient throughout the facility — waiting rooms, exam rooms and patient rooms. They should look at all public areas."(source)

Here's an interesting tid bit of history. The concept of designs that integrate into healing environments dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece. Supposedly, they built temples where color healing took place. One such temple was located in Heliopolis, the Greek city of the sun, and was famous for it's healing temples. Sunlight shone through colored gems, such as rubies and sapphires, onto people seeking healing. It's thought that "the sick were color-diagnosed and then put into one of the rooms surrounding the temple that radiated the particular color prescribed.”(source)

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The Chinese agree with this idea of color for healing: color is regarded as cosmic energy—ch'i—that can shape energy and destiny.

Du Pont has a new line of commercial surfaces, called the Corian Healing Colors Collection, that capitalizes on this approach to environmental design. It uses natural elements and color palettes that reflect nature, to help create a healing atmosphere for patients and positive working environment for staff.
  • H2O Relaxing blues and greens to help promote tranquility.
  • Flame Vibrant, energizing hues to help promote vitality.
  • Earth Natural stone and earth tones to help promote comfort.
  • Wood Soothing, green and brown hues to help promote peacefulness.
  • Alloy Clean, reflective grays and charcoals for pleasing contrasts.
  • Oxygen Light, airy colors to help promote serenity.
Here's a little bit more about their Flame line
Flame colors are festive, seductive, and dynamic, like the ambient glow of flickering candlelight. With shades of red, wine, rust, marigold and bronze, Flame colors warm the spirit and inspire optimism, which may make them ideal for areas focused on increasing patient energy such as orthopedic therapy areas or children’s cardiology centers. Like a warm fireside glow, Flame colors can illuminate an environment to promote vigor and vitality."(source)

Hm, not sure I agree with this completely, as some of these colors are awfully bright. I've heard from professional designers who work in the hospital industry that red should be avoided, because of its association with blood. but I suppose if used as accents, or in areas that are not related to surgery, that it might work. What do you all think about this?

So, how do you separate true empirical data from “pseudo-scientific assertions”? A study by the Coalition of Health Environment Research concluded, amongst other things, that

The popular press and the design community have promoted the oversimplification of the psychological responses to color. Many authors of guidelines tend to make sweeping statements that support myths or personal beliefs. Likewise, most color guidelines for healthcare design are nothing more than affective value judgments whose direct applicability to the architecture and interior design of healthcare settings seems oddly inconclusive and nonspecific. The authors of the color study would advise against the creation of universal guidelines for appropriated colors in healthcare settings. The complexity of user groups and the multiple uses of the environment make efforts to prescribe universal guidelines a waste of energy.(source)

I completely agree with this. This is SO important. People want cookie cutter information, a fail-safe recipe that will work every time, in every environment. It's just not possible, and to over-simply color is to undermined its inherent value.

Not what most hospital administrators will want to hear, but alas, there's no easy answer when it comes to color. I'm sure glad people are beginning to pay more attention to it, though!

Fall Color Contest Disappoints

Apartment Therapy recently hosted their 4th Annual Fall Colors contest to vote for the most colorful houses in the country and in the world. The editors selected the top 16 entries from each of 5 regions: east, midwest, southwest, northwest, and international.
Our house made it through the first round of votes, nominated as one of the top 16 in the Northwest, but stopped there. I was super excited to see who would win this most prestigious award, "the most colorful, most beautiful home on the planet". There were some amazing entries. But as the contest progresses, and readers voted online in a bracketed voting system, I was disappointed. Instead of selecting homes that embraced color, voters opted for highly-designed spaces that didn't necessarily use much color at all, like the one above, who won the competition in the end. I thought it was sad that totally colorful houses like this or this
or especially thiswere left behind in favor of less colorful spaces like this and this.
And what about the over-the-top entries? Weren't they fabulous in a "whoa, that is just crazy" sort of way? You have to give them credit for bravery.
Seriously colorful, that's for sure.
More from the winning home.
I thought it was supposed to be about the MOST colorful homes, not the most decorated!
Rather disappointing results, I must say, due to no fault of the editors, who gave us some amazing entries to chose from.

What did you think of the contest? Did you have a favorite?
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Designing for an audience

Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the UK has a new burn unit, and the exterior is a fantastic assortment of cheerful colors and fun shapes. Interior Design magazine writes that it's a "design that attempts to reflect the spirit of the children, adolescents and families treated there." With a red curved wall, a cantilevered blue drum shape and a yellow cheese wedge, it certainly looks like a building designed with children in mind.
"In combining old and new, bright colors and intriguing shapes, the new burn unit... achieved a "wow" factor that can only stimulate the recovery of its young patients." (source)
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Great for visiting parents and family, but how does this benefit the injured children inside the building, who certainly don't get to the see the outside of the building until they are recovered, and leaving? Makes me wonder if the designers spent any time and energy on the interior, where the patients are actually treated. I can only conclude that the design is therefore for the public, the parents, and the funders.

Any thoughts?

Last Color Contest Submission

Reader Jill was inspired to submit two more variations of the famed white house from our Coloring Contest. What a difference color makes!
The first is based on my favorite color combination, purple and green. I used a sage green with an eggplant for the columns and door. I love houses with more than one color on the window frame, so I combined the eggplant with a more neutral putty color. For the rest of the trim on the house, I matched it to the gray roof to make the windows really stand out. I don't have a specific location in mind for this house; this one was guided strictly by colors I like.
For my second house, I decided to start with a location and then apply color. With those columns, it seems only appropriate to have a house in Italy. I based my design on a Tuscan color scheme, with a lot of emphasis on neutral earth tones. I colored the main part of the house a slate gray reminiscent of stone and the trim brown for the appearance of wood. To add a little bit of color, I added terra cotta to the columns and a bit of green to the planters.

So, this marks the end of our exterior coloring contest. Thanks to everyone for participating- you had some marvelous color treatments. I'll be emailing the winner for her contact information shortly.

Purple Reigns

While my approach to color design might be anti-trends, it's impossible not to notice them all around me. At several festivities a few weekends ago, I couldn't believe all the purple outfits. From eggplant to lilac, the color was -everywhere-!

(not sure if my friends want to be up on the internet for all eternity, so I blurred out their faces)

We went to a friend's wedding, and at our table alone, 2 out of 8 people were wearing purple...and they were both men. We were situated right near the entrance, and could watch as the 400 guests poured into the banquet hall. I had a great view of everyone, and couldn't keep track of all the purple, worn by both women and men.

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It's prevalent in design, as well. Here's a great post from design*sponge on the purple craze..
It has moved from a blue-based lavender to a red-based purple -- almost a raspberry color. There is a convergence of red and purple that is high-energy.

My question is, where did this push for purple stem from? There must have been some deeply-rooted rationale to back this surge of all-things violet. Anyone have any ideas?

One colorful world

My friend Kaycee just forwarded me this video. It was 14 months in the making, filmed in 42 countries, with a cast of thousands. Check out the distinctive color palette in each region. The beautiful colors were fantastic, but the smiling, glowing faces are what really made me happy...

Where the Heck is Matt? (2008)

BM talks about color

I recently talked to Eileen McComb, Director of Communications with Benjamin Moore, to answer some questions I had.
*Just to let you know, I neither represent BM, nor am compensated for my articles. I specify several different brands of paint, but certainly feel BM's consumer relations are top notch.

Okay, so now that I have that disclaimer taken care of, let's get to the fun stuff!
Q:I've alway wanted to know this: who names your paint colors?
Ans: Our internal color team creates and initially names the colors, based on the theme of the color introduction and collections. For instance, our new Affinity Collection (144 colors introduced in 2007) was inspired by International, Nature, and Harmonic influences and was created to appeal to the high end of the market.

When you look at the names of each color, you’ll get a read as to the names of places, cultural influences and mood--all evoking connections to the color. We have noticed that a good number of designers and consumers identify the color by name first and the number is for those who are “wired” to relate to color on that level.

Each of the Affinity colors is important enough to stand on its own, yet work in harmony with each other…something that is very appealing to designers and consumers when creating palettes. Three names initially were assigned per color so we would arrive at the most appropriate name, eliminating any that were used before.

Occasionally, we work with outside color consultants to gain a more “neutral” response to the color direction, but Benjamin Moore drives the naming to ensure they reflect the premise of the collection in the first place.

With our Color Preview collection introduced in 2000 – 1484 colors created to bring us into the 21st century with clean, saturated color – Benjamin Moore employees “adopted” up to 2 colors each and named them. We’re all consumers and this tells us how people view color and the connection that they have with it. It is an emotional and very personal element in design, as
everyone has their favorite color and they want to “own” it.

Q: What happens to "retired" older colors?
Ans: A Benjamin Moore color is never “retired”. Just because we may not produce the merchandising materials to support a color doesn’t mean that a color is not accessible. The color formulation is retained in our database and is always accessible.

Q: How frequently do you introduce new colors?
Ans: Imagine an unlimited number of custom colors that can be accessed. Consumer would never be able to embrace all those colors…that’s why we design collections that reflect current trends and directions. Benjamin Moore has approximately 3500 colors that we offer to Designers and an edited number at retail for consumers.

Q: You have a cross-marketing relationship with Pottery Barn, by offering a specific palette of colors each season to go along with the furniture in their catalog. What led to the departure this past spring from traditionally "Pottery Barn-esque colors?
Ans: Benjamin Moore colors are actually selected by Pottery Barn, not by Benjamin Moore.

Q: When it comes to trends, people may head for what is "in" at the moment, but how does BM reconcile that homeowners only repaint once every 5-10 years, whereas trends are out within a season or two?
Ans: Actually, homeowners paint on a more frequent basis, according to our data – every 2 to 4 years for interiors. Often times that is driven by life changes such as moving, marriage, births, empty nesting. A trend is a long term direction whereas a “fad” is a short lived influence, closely tied to seasonality and news/celebrity cycles. Benjamin Moore tracks trends and looks to present color collections that have broad appeal over many years.

For more juicy tid bits on paint color trends, Jennifer at Design Hole recently got the inside scoop from BM's trend forecaster.

Interesting! What are your thoughts about fads versus trends? Can you tell the difference?

all 2009 Color Trends images copyright Benjamin Moore