• innerspace | interior design blog

does the color make the room?  or, does the room make the color?  ‘colour prejudice’, an article by sir david tang in the 2-3 april 2011 FINANCIAL TIMES, makes you think about which comes first.

click here to read the article.

tang thinks that color is abstract, therefore, color is only substantiated by objects.  so, if an interior designer has a strong color sense, they consider it more important to conceptualize the textures and tonalities of the materials and furnishings for a room than to develop the color scheme.  for example, tang describes the texture of the beige lacquer walls at MR. CHOW restaurant in london as ‘sumptuous’.

what if the walls at MR. CHOW were painted in a flat finish, instead?


MR. CHOW restaurant | london, united kingdom

photo credit MR. CHOW
and, he compares the brass paneled pillars at annabel’s, a private club in london, to the gilt columns in the egyptian hall at harrod’s department store.  both are golden, but one is more overstated than the other.

annabel’s | london, united kingdom

photo credit annabel’s


the egyptian hall | harrod’s | london, united kingdom

photo credit flickr

many of the memorable rooms that tang mentions in the article are quite colorful.  the orange window coverings at chateau le grand montjeu in burgundy, france, owned by the late sir james goldsmith.  the (formerly) yellow armchairs in the lobby of the hotel du cap-eden-roc in antibes, france.  the turquoise chairs and banquettes at restaurante jockey in madrid, spain.  the cardinal (red) suite at blakes hotel in london.

the cardinal suite | blakes hotel | london, united kingdom

photo credit blakes

is the color what makes these rooms memorable?  or, are these memorable rooms colorful?

for my interior design projects at innerspace,  i often treat a room as a neutral shell, and use the furnishings to create visual interest.  and, i often suggest selecting the materials and furnishings before choosing the paint colors.

so, i think that the room makes the color more often than the color makes the room.

what do you think?

 color authority, pantone, named honeysuckle pink the color of the year for 2011.  pantone provides professional color standards for the design industries.

honeysuckle pink | pantone 18-2120 TCX

photos credit pantone.com

according to tom mirabile, head of global trends and design at lifetime brands inc., a kitchen products company, honeysuckle pink is:

‘…a very ‘mad men’ pink…

it’s like the lipstick our mothers wore…

there’s a retro aspect to it that’s going to be very popular.’

mad men | don and rachel | 1960’s costumes by janie bryant

photo credit carin baer

red tones have been the pantone color of the year for five out of the last twelve years.  and, for four out of the last twelve years, the pantone color of the year has alternated between reds and greens.  considering the repetition, pantone’s criteria for choosing the color of the year could be more commercial than directional or evolutionary.  in addition, spring 2011 merchandise is already in production.  so, the pantone color of the year could influence marketing and merchandising more than product development.

pantone colors of the year for 2000-2010

2000 cerulean blue | 2001 fuchsia rose | 2002 true red | 2003 aqua sky | 2004 tigerlily | 2005 blue turquoise | 2006 sand dollar | 2007 chili pepper | 2008 blue iris | 2009 mimosa | 2010 turquoise

photo credit wsj.com

pink is a marketable color for many design industries, but it may not be the most commercial color for the interior design industry.  interior designers whose signature is their bold use of color have created pink rooms.  new york interior designer jamie drake created a widely publicized pink bedroom for the 2007 kips bay decorator show house.

pink bedroom | 2007 kips bay decorator show house | drake design associates | new york, NY

photo credit nick johnson

and, interior designer miles redd created a pink and red living room for his new york town house that has also attracted much media attention.

pink and red living room | miles redd | new york, NY

photo credit new york social diary

san francisco interior designer jay jeffers, who is also known for his use of bold colors, painted the walls in his edwardian home coral, and accented the design scheme with pink furniture and accessories.

coral and pink living room | jeffers design group | san francisco, CA

photo credit grey crawford

but, interior designers more frequently use bright colors to accent neutral color schemes.  ned marshall accented the rich chocolate and warm limestone entry hall of a new orleans home with a pink settee.

pink settee | entry hall | ned marshall | new orleans, LA

photo credit kerri mccaffety

and, pink pillows, along with the palest pink window coverings, energize the white on white sunroom, designed by melanie turner for the 2010 atlanta decorators’ showhouse.

  pink pillows and window coverings | sunroom | 2010 atlanta decorators’ show house | turner davis interiors | atlanta, GA

photo credit jonathan berger

‘the new hue for 2011’, a 9 december 2010 wall street journal article, quoted interior and housewares designer jonathan adler, whose 2011 collections feature pink.  even though he supposedly doesn’t follow design trends, he thinks that:

‘there’s an innate optimism to pink.’

kaleidescope pillows in pink | jonathan adler

photos credits jonathan adler.com

color psychologist leatrice eiseman, executive director of the pantone color institute, describes honeysuckle pink as a color ‘to lift our spirits’.  so, feeling optimistic about 2011 could be one reason that pantone named honeysuckle pink the color of the year.

does pink make you feel optimistic?


found in the attic of their family home near london.

and, sold for US$69.5 million,

the highest price ever paid for any chinese work of art at auction.

a superb and very rare yang cai reticulated double-walled vase with six character mark in underglaze blue of qianlong and of the period

bainbridges | west ruslip, middlesex, UK | 11 november 2010 | lot 800

photo credits bainbridges

what treasures could be hidden in your attic?

click here and here and here and here for more information about the bainbridge vase.

two san francisco art galleries are presenting landmark exhibitions of paintings by richard diebenkorn and helen frankenthaler during april, may, and june 2010.

richard diebenkorn | paintings and drawings from the collection of christopher diebenkorn at the paul thiebaud gallery opened on 20 april 2010 and runs until 26 june 2010.

instead of the gestural techniques of the abstract expressionist and color field painting movements of the 1950’s, richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) developed a more controlled style, where the geometric lines accumulated during the drawing and painting process remain visible. in addition to other modern artists and his academic colleagues, diebenkorn’s residential location influenced his work.

here are some highlights from the show, which not only features abstract works from diebenkorn’s earlier sausalito (1947-1949), albuquerque (1950-1952), urbana (1952-1953), and berkeley (1953-1966) periods, but also from his later santa monica (1966-1988), and healdsburg (1988-1993) periods.


richard diebenkorn | untitled | watercolor, ink and paper tape on paper | 1946

photo credit paul thiebaud gallery


richard diebenkorn | untitled | gouache on paper | 1951

photo credit paul thiebaud gallery


richard diebenkorn | untitled (urbana) | ink and gouache on paper | 1952

photo credit paul thiebaud gallery


richard diebenkorn | cityscape #4 | oil on canvas | 1963

photo credit paul thiebaud gallery

santa monica

richard diebenkorn | invented landscape | gouache and crayon on paper | 1977

photo credit paul thiebaud gallery


richard diebenkorn | untitled #10 | crayon, graphite, synthetic polymer, and pasted paper on paper | 1991

photo credit paul thiebaud gallery

the exhibition also features representational figural drawings, still life drawings, landscapes, and cityscapes from the different phases of diebenkorn’s career.

which style and ‘location’ do you prefer?

two san francisco art galleries are presenting landmark exhibitions of paintings by helen frankenthaler and richard diebenkorn during april, may, and june 2010.

helen frankenthaler | paintings 1961-1973 at the john berggruen gallery opened on 1 april 2010 and runs through 22 may 2010.

helen frankenthaler (b.1928), who was influenced by the techniques of abstract expressionist painters such as jackson pollock, willem de kooning, and mark rothko, led the color field painting movement in new york during the 1950’s.  she developed a gestural painting technique that, by pouring paint over an unprimed instead of a primed canvas, allowed the paint to penetrate and stain the surface.

here are some highlights from the show, which features rarely exhibited paintings from the collections of the artist and other private collectors.  some of the earliest paintings in the exhibition include provincetown l from 1961 and pivitol square from 1962.

helen frankenthaler | provincetown l | oil on canvas | 1961

photo credit john berggruen gallery

helen frankenthaler | pivitol square | oil on canvas | 1962

photo credit john berggruen gallery

helen frankenthaler | gulf stream | oil and acrylic on canvas | 1963

photo credit john berggruen gallery

helen frankenthaler | mountain pool | acrylic on canvas | 1963

photo credit john berggruen gallery

helen frankenthaler | orange underline | acrylic on canvas | 1963

photo credit john berggruen gallery

the san francisco museum of modern art loaned interior landscape from 1964 to the berggruen gallery for the exhibition.

  helen frankenthaler | interior landscape | acrylic on canvas | 1964

photo credit john berggruen gallery

according to art scholar, barbara rose, coalition from 1968 is:

‘among the finest paintings produced anywhere in the late sixties’.

helen frankenthaler | coalition | acrylic on canvas | 1968

photo credit john berggruen gallery

but, harold rosenberg, a new york art critic and proponent of the abstract expressionist movement, described frankenthaler’s post-1960’s work as:

‘mere interior decoration.’

helen frankenthaler | moveable blue | acrylic on canvas | 1973

photo credit john berggruen gallery
what do you think?