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S H E R W I N - W I L L I A M S® W h e r e C o l o r a n d C r e a t i v i t y C o n v e r g e Vo l u m e 1 • I s s u e 1 • 2 0 0 4

s t i r

The Colors of Japan

Bold New Library

Talking Color With Todd Oldham

Editorial Advisor: Tresa Makowski Executive Editor: Bryan Iwamoto Editor: Kim Palmer Executive Art Director: Sandy Rumreich Senior Designer: Cate Hubbard Senior Editors: Jim Thorp, Lynn Bronson Production Director: Kim Olson Traffic: Amy Gutknecht Client Services: Jane Rosenberger, Andrea Ahern STIR is published by Hanley Wood, LLC, on behalf of The Sherwin-Williams Company, for interior designers and architects. We welcome your questions and comments. Please direct correspondence to: Sherwin-Williams STIR Magazine Hanley Wood, 430 1st Ave. N., Suite 550, Minneapolis, MN 55401. Phone: (612) 338-8300 Fax: (612) 338-7044 E-mail: Web site: For Sherwin-Williams color and product information, contact your Sherwin-Williams Architectural Account Executive or call the Architect and Designer Answerline at (800) 321-8194. Printed in the United States, Š 2004 Sherwin-Williams, Vol. 1. Issue 1, 2004 The trademarks and copyrights of Sherwin-Williams appearing in STIR are protected.

STIR Advisory Board Joann Eckstut The Roomworks New York, N.Y. Janet Friedman, ASID Friedman & Shields Greenbrae, Calif. Ruth Jansson Gensler Architecture, Design and Planning Worldwide Washington, D.C. Marcello Luzi, ASID Weixler, Peterson & Luzi Philadelphia, Pa. Jill Miller Mithun Seattle, Wash. Jill Pilaroscia, IACC The Colour Studio San Francisco, Calif. Paul Sarantes, ASID, IIDA Archicon Architects and Interiors Phoenix, Ariz. Mary Slater, NKBA

Ai Miami International University of Art and Design Miami, Fla. Linda Smith, FASID education-works Dallas, Texas



s t i r Vo l u m e 1 • I s s u e 1 • 2 0 0 4







Color speaks volumes at the new Seattle Central Library, a modernist showcase that breaks the mold of what a library can be.

Designers share their strategies for identifying clients’ deepest attitudes about color and expanding their comfort zones.







Yellows energize interiors. Gray-tinted basecoats make deep color visions a reality. Color tools that work.

Historic colors restore the original beauty of classic homes in old Baltimore.



Low-VOC Harmony paints have designers and clients breathing easier. Plus other environmentally friendly ideas.

A noisy world rediscovers Japan’s quiet yet powerful color traditions, along with the Eastern design philosophy of wabi-sabi.

COLOR SPY Designer Todd Oldham makes the switch from fashion to furniture without losing his adventurous color sense.



LIVING IN COLOR The blues have never looked better than this sampling of new building and design products.

18 INSPIRATION Designers share what’s on their desk, nightstand or laptop.

20 FINAL TOUCH Discover the essence of stained glass.


COLOR TECH An illuminating look at how lighting can enhance or detract from your carefully selected palettes.



Stir 1


SOLAR POWER Yellow always makes its

has also made a comeback — it

presence felt. On one hand, it’s

gives us the energy and lightness

an in-your-face color, marking

we are looking for in a hectic,

hazards and evoking caution.

high-tech world.”

On the flip side, yellow is warm, sunny and inviting. And according to Becky Ralich Spak, senior designer with Sherwin-Williams’ Color Marketing department, this energetic, “feel-good” side of yellow makes it a popular hue in new residential homes. “Safety alerts come in a strong, bold yellow hue — overly saturated yellows can even cause agitation,” Ralich Spak says. “But yellow can also be considered a fun, youthful color — think VW Beetles, SpongeBob, cell phones and cameras. The retro smiley face

Yellows are seen frequently in New England and the Pacific Northwest, where they are used to balance an abundance of blues and greens in the natural environment. Yellow suggests warmth and the illusion of sunshine where few or no windows exist, and a feeling of energy and movement within a space. Expect to see more saturated forms of yellow in public rooms: kitchens, sun porches, bathrooms and great rooms, says Ralich Spak. The softer, creamier shades are showing up in more private quarters, such as bedrooms. ■

is a child’s first color preference. and cream signify modesty in Persian rugs.


is the color of D major, said composer Alexander Scriabin. and red are marriage colors in Egypt and Russia. is the color of light, life, truth and immortality to the Hindus. signifies the direction north in Tibet. is the Chinese color for royalty. Source: “The Primary Colors” by Alexander Theroux




ARE YOU PRIMED? Enhance color with the right basecoat. Looking for deeper shades and lush finishes for your client’s interiors? The gray-tinted basecoat technology of the Sherwin-Williams Color Prime® System and the ColorAccents® Interior Latex Flat paint line help you make your vision a reality. The Sherwin-Williams exclusive Color Prime System is a continuum of gray shades that maximize the color of approximately 20 percent of the Sherwin-Williams COLOR palette. Sherwin-Williams gray-tinted basecoats allow you to achieve the ideal balance of light absorption and reflection by working within the color space of the topcoat color. For certain deep, bright or transparent colors, a gray basecoat provides: An accurate color match in fewer coats. Better touch-up and superior coverage of surface imperfections. Uniform colors with less streaking.

• • •

“Our Color Prime gray basecoat technology helps designers achieve the look their clients want without guesswork, because topcoat colors are matched with the appropriate gray primer shade,” says Steve Revnew, director of residential marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Topcoat colors appear more vivid and true with the proper gray basecoat shade underneath — so the right basecoat is every bit as important as the right topcoat.” Determining when to use a gray basecoat shade (and which shade to use) is simple — either ask your Sherwin-Williams store or rep or look at the back of your topcoat color chip. If you see a code of P1 through P6, be sure to use a primer tinted to that specific shade of gray. It’s that easy. For more information on these or other Sherwin-Williams products, go to ■

WHAT’S IN YOUR TOOLBOX? Make your job easier with the best in professional color selection tools from Sherwin-Williams.

• The Sherwin-Williams COLOR Specifier fan deck is user-friendly and designed to put the entire COLOR palette in the palm of your hand — more than 1,000 hues, arranged by saturation level inside an ergonomically designed protective cover.

Combine Color Prime basecoat technology

• The Sherwin-Williams Professional Color File

with Sherwin-Williams ColorAccents Interior

arranges color from essential blacks and whites

Latex Flat paints and see the difference —

to warm and cool neutrals to six color families,

rich, deep colors with a finish like velvet.

followed by the Preservation Palette® (both interior and exterior finishes), Wood Classics® stains over pine, oak and birch, and finish selectors showing Sherwin-Williams sheens in light and deep hues. The Professional Color File comes in a portable hard case that’s easily carried from studio to project site.

• Individual 4 / -by-3 / -inch and 8 / -by-11-inch 1






color samples are available upon request. You can order Sherwin-Williams color tools online at, or call (800) 382-6567, fax (216) 566-1660 or e-mail Whatever your preference, we’ve got your color. ■


Stir 3

Shhh! The walls are shouting Color speaks volumes at a new Seattle library.




Mixed to match More of a concern was how to achieve the robust colors and match selected shades, especially in the many areas where the same color was used on adjacent but different construction materials. Restroom surfaces had to blend seamlessly from polyurethane floors to latex walls to enamel ceilings. At the escalators, matching the difficult-to-adhere gloss illuminated panels and baked enamel panels took tremendous coordination and perseverance, Ramus says. Sherwin-Williams’ Polane® two-component urethane ultimately got the job done with its bondto-almost-anything capability. The Sherwin-Williams blue chosen for the expansive structural areas that tie the clusters together was selected for both form and function. “On an overcast day, the color is very warm,” Ramus says; on sunny days, “it’s almost luminous.” Exterior applications of the color were achieved with Sherwin-Williams’ Corothane® 1, a moisture-cured polyurethane that could be applied even on soggy days to keep the project on schedule.

Colorful clusters

Custom made

The library project was sectioned into five clusters, each designed independently with a unique palette inspired by function. For example, the team wanted elevators and escalators to be obvious to visitors, Ramus says. Fluorescent chartreuse was selected for its sheer unavoidability. “It was the one color you would see from anywhere.” To set the high-tech atmosphere of the Mixing Chamber, the information hub of the library, black columns coated with clear sealer containing microchip glitter and a sleek aluminum floor were installed. An orange polyurethane floor at the Teen Center adds warmth while reflecting the vibrancy of its adolescent visitors. The most whimsical color selection, according to Ramus, is the lush red that envelops the curvaceous Meeting Level. “This was the only place that the color was really just for fun.” The library board and advisors were generally supportive of the bold vision, but “there were certainly colors that were a hard sell,” Ramus says.

Craig Obert, store manager of one of the Sherwin-Williams stores in Seattle, oversaw the creation of 17 custom colors, mixed to match metal, paper and fabric swatches, that could adhere to everything. “It was a big challenge because most of the colors were very bright and vibrant, more like ink colors than paint,” Obert says. To ensure longterm gloss and color retention, the store supplied Hi-Gloss Polyurethane for the deep reds of the Meeting Level. Apparently Obert and his staff got it right. The OMA team was so committed to Sherwin-Williams’ paints and colors, and their highperformance reputation, that they were specified on all bid documents. Color expert Jill Pilaroscia, of The Colour Studio in San Francisco, described the library’s saturation of color as “spectacularly fresh and surprising. Libraries are traditionally places where you don’t raise your voice, you walk softly and speak quietly,” Pilaroscia says. OMA’s design is “blowing the top off those experiential constraints.” ■




here’s nothing hushed or whispered about the color scheme for the Seattle Central Library, which opened in May 2004 to great fanfare. The exuberant, deconstructivist design, by 2000 Pritzker Prize winner Rem Koolhaas and his team at Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), defiantly challenges the traditional library persona of an unobtrusive brick box. From the asymmetrical glass exterior to luminescent escalators, the design is as loud as a rambunctious schoolkid. But perhaps no other element is as vocal as the colors drenching almost every surface. Koolhaas’ Netherlandsbased firm embraces color, which, while not uncommon in Europe, is more unusual in American architectural firms. According to Josuha Ramus, Koolhaas’ partner, color can punctuate design, buttress function and — in the case of the library — transform materials as mundane as cement floors and acoustic ceiling tiles into a sophisticated design scheme.

Far left: Seating area in library foyer Center: Dramatic escalator Near left: Exterior view of library

“It was a big challenge because most of the colors were very bright and vibrant, more like ink colors than paint.� SHERWIN-WILLIAMS

Stir 5

Shades goneby Historic colors restore the original beauty of two classic Baltimore homes.

“Historic colors really preservation consultant who works with homeowners, architects and interior designers (a growing number of whom are being called upon to select paint colors for exterior projects). Webb was familiar with the couple’s house and soon convinced Blewis that historically accurate colors would best restore its beauty. “Historic colors really define and enhance historic buildings,” Webb says. Blewis hired Webb, who began searching for evidence of original hues. She was ecstatic to discover the home’s original trim color under several layers of paint on the carriage house door header. “It was the biggest stretch of preserved historic colors I’ve seen in the 30 years I have been doing this,” she says.

Familiar hue By BETTE SACK


altimore’s Guilford neighborhood is like an architectural history lesson come to life. With its tree-lined avenues, old-fashioned streetlights and stately turn-of-the century homes, Guilford is defined by its Old World charm. But until recently, one of Guilford’s most prominent homes, a large 1916 Flemish Arts & Crafts villa, was more of an eyesore than a showplace. The dingy white stucco was in need of repair, the black shutters discolored by acid rain. New homeowner Julie Blewis says she heard later that the neighbors had laughed at them for buying the house. But her husband, Gordon, says, “We could see beyond the fact that it needed a paint job; that it would look great again.” While struggling with the task of selecting exterior colors at a Sherwin-Williams paint store, Julie Blewis met Leslie Webb, a historic




Webb recognized the color as Sherwin-Williams’ Rookwood Shutter Green (SW 2809), a historic color that is still available, part of Sherwin-Williams’ COLOR Preservation Palette® series. Webb used the green for the window trim and shutters, setting it off with Roycroft Copper Red (SW 2839 — also from a Preservation Palette) on the sashes of the home’s many mullioned windows. Sherwin-Williams was able to match the warm sandstone color selected for the stucco directly from the original color unearthed during Webb’s research. To ensure maximum durability, the couple chose Sherwin-Williams’ Duration® coating, which covers in one coat on repaints. The new palette sets off the home’s terra cotta clay tile roof, exterior brickwork and walkways. It also integrates the colors of the home with the colors of its unique setting (directly facing a large public garden), which reflects the Arts & Crafts period’s philosophy of celebrating nature by employing natural colors and materials, Webb says.

Empire Gold (SW 0012)

BirdsEye Maple (SW 2834)

Versatile Gray (SW 6072)

Ruskin Room Green (SW 0042)

A palette of historic and modern colors showcase the Fishmans’ art collection.

define and enhance historic buildings.”


Inside warmth Webb’s work on the Blewis home attracted the attention of the owners of a 1925 Colonial Revival home, also in Guilford. Architect Jonathan Fishman and his wife, Gail, who develops exhibitions for museums, definitely have the taste and color sensibilities to select hues for their home’s all-white interior spaces. “Yes, we do,” Jonathan Fishman laughs, “but we couldn’t agree.” Using Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint® Interior Latex in a flat finish, Webb transformed the home’s interior, choosing both historic and modern colors to showcase the Fishmans’ contemporary art and modern furnishings. Webb chose Versatile Gray (SW 6072) for the foyer, set off by Pure White (SW 7005) woodwork, which continues through the home. “Gray was an important color for the period of the house, which immediately linked the past to the present,” she says. The living room was painted Empire Gold (SW 0012) to infuse the space with warmth. Ruskin Room Green (SW 0042) was chosen for the dining room because it complemented the gold, as well as the Fishmans’ artwork and antique oriental rugs. Webb takes a flexible approach to historic color, sometimes combining colors from different periods. The green in the Fishman home, for example, is part of Sherwin-Williams’ Preservation Palette from the Arts & Crafts period, while the gold is part of the earlier Victorian palette, she notes. But Webb is firm in her commitment to historic colors overall as an important part of preservation. “In America, we live in a throwaway society that has torn down much of its old architecture,” she says. “Historic buildings add a richness and depth to life, and historic colors help them stand out against the colors of today’s world.” ■

WHEN A HOME HAS A PAST Preservation consultant Leslie Webb offers the following tips when working on historic preservation projects:

1. Expose the original colors. Webb uses a variety of scalpels to carve an angled “tree ring” into painted surfaces to reveal layers of history. (She recommends the book “Paint in America: Colors of Historic Buildings” by Roger W. Moss and published by the Preservation Trust, which details this technique.) If the original paint color isn’t feasible, consider using the second or third paint color, or adapting the original color in a way that is sensitive to the past, such as reducing the value by 20 percent.

2. Explore tax credits or other financial incentives for using historically accurate colors. “Each historic district has its own rules,” Webb says. A good place to start is the local historic preservation office. A critical resource for preservation guidelines is the National Park Service (

3. Learn about the period in which the home was built and the colors that were used at that time. “Historic paint color theory is deep and complex — every period is unique,” Webb says. For quick reference, consult Sherwin-Williams’ Preservation Palettes. Leslie Webb is a historic preservation and color consultant based in Baltimore, Md. Her e-mail address is


Stir 7


Lost in

A noisy world rediscovers Japan’s quiet, yet powerful, color traditions. B y K I M PA L M E R

White makeup has been used for centuries by the Japanese. In traditional Japan, white was considered the sacred color of the gods, symbolizing the absence of impurity.





Tokyo streetscape seen from a racing taxi — a feverish blur of neon brights and urban grays — paints a vivid cultural image in the film “Lost in Translation.” That scene reflects the face of modern Japan to many Westerners, especially those who’ve experienced the culture only vicariously through movies or TV. But that image masks the culture’s aesthetic essence, just as a Kabuki actor’s white makeup disguises his features. “Tokyo is so Western and high-tech, but the intrinsic Japanese culture is healthy and serene; there’s a huge contrast between the city and the rural areas,” says Robyn Griggs Lawrence, editor in chief of Natural Home magazine and author of a forthcoming book on Japanese-inspired home design. Japan’s true colors are not the harsh, artificial hues of a modern city but the

Japanese color through the centuries

Colors have deep symbolic meanings in

natural, monochromatic palettes of cypress trees, tea leaves or pebbles along the shore. “Color is very important in Japanese design, but it’s very subtle and comes from nature,” says Rina Okawa, a Japanese-born interior designer with Zen Associates in Sudbury, Mass. “We always try to bring the outside in,” says Shoko Aoki-Fine, an interior designer with Okohz Design Group in Redondo Beach, Calif., which specializes in Japanese-inspired design for residential and commercial clients. Japanese color palettes include many greens, earth tones, forest colors, and beach or ocean colors, depending on the natural surroundings of the building. Stronger colors

Kimono designed with flowers and grasses of the four seasons.


Bonsai means “tray planting.” Evergreens are symbols of long life, and their color is respected as sacred.


Japan, and ancient traditions still influence the use of color today. Those traditions and the evolution of the uniquely Japanese approach to color is beautifully illustrated in “The Colors of Japan” (Kodansha International Ltd., 2000) by Sadao Hibi and Kunio Fukuda. The book explains the history and meaning behind the culture’s dominant hues:

Nobility and privilege

for exalted people

Midori, symbolizing

are symbolized in this

to wear on special

fresh and youthful

royal color, which was

occasions. The victor in

new life, has long

reserved for impor-

an important contest

been a dominant hue

tant uses such as

would be awarded a

in Japanese interior

priests’ robes, cloths

deep violet banner,

décor. The soft sage

for wrapping valuable

the equivalent of

color of green tea

objects or kimonos

the Western world’s

is an especially

blue ribbon.

favored shade.


Stir 9

“We appreciate the silence, the empty space between the lines.” may be used for accent, but in small doses and muted shades. “In the Japanese tradition, bright colors tire the eye,” Griggs Lawrence says. “Color definition is really restrained.” This understated approach to color is only one facet of the less-is-more Japanese design philosophy. “The American way is to try to make every little space occupied,” Okawa says. When a design is spare, “you (Westerners) feel like something is missing. We feel it is beautiful. We appreciate the silence, the empty space between the lines.” The calm, soothing aesthetic of Japanese design and color is increasingly sought after by Japanese and American clients alike. “There’s more interest in Japanese design because everyone is so busy,” says Aoki-Fine. “People’s brains are stuffed with too many things; they want their homes to be peaceful, relaxed and simple.” ■

Woodblock, ca. 1793. During the Edo period (1600–1867) tea leaves and stems were used to dye clothing. The brown color became a symbol of the common people.

Enameled dish with radish leaves. Blue and white Imari ricebowls are part of everyday life in Japan. The shades of indigo vary depending on the composition of the cobalt and the firing process.

BLUE If there’s one color

the color of working

In the Japanese

that represents every-

clothes and household

tradition, the simple

day Japanese life, it’s

textiles. Today, navy

beauty of materials

navy blue. Under

blue is still a common

in their natural color

Japan’s early feudal

color for Japanese

is highly valued.

caste system, bright

school uniforms and

Unpainted wood and

colors such as red

other institutional

clay have long been

and purple were

uses, and blue and

popular for interiors,

prohibited except for

white is a favorite

along with bamboo,

specific uses. Indigo

color combination,

hemp, straw and

was plentiful, and

representing coolness


blue made from

and freshness.

indigo dye became





THE WABI-SABI WAY Its name resembles that of the fiery Japanese condiment wasabi. But wabi-sabi, unlike wasabi, is calm, soothing and serene. Wabi-sabi is an ancient Japanese aesthetic philosophy based on finding beauty in simple, humble, aged things. Now it’s having its 21st-century cultural moment, with some designers proclaiming that wabi-sabi is “the next feng shui.” Actually, “it’s the anti-feng shui,” says Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author of “The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty,” published by Clarkson Potter Publishers in November 2004. “Feng shui is all about rules,” she says. “Wabi-sabi is all about intuition and lack of rules. It’s about getting quiet and listening to yourself.”

The wabi-sabi look is simple and uncluttered, with handcrafted items chosen not to impress but because they speak to the owner. “It’s minimalist but warm — not cold, sleek white-on-white, but minimalist with a small ‘m,’ ” she says . Griggs Lawrence believes a house doesn’t have to be Japanese in style to be true to the principles of wabi-sabi. She first encountered wabi-sabi in Maine a few years ago when she fell in love with the simple beauty of a rustic stone house that had been built by hand and furnished with flea-market finds. The owner mentioned wabi-sabi as an influence and gave Griggs Lawrence a book to read. She believes that wabi-sabi “speaks to our needs as a society. We want to simplify, to create personal spaces, as opposed to something you could order from a catalog. When people become familiar with wabi-sabi, their reaction is ‘Ah — yes.’ ” ■

Comb of laquered wood with clematis flowers and plum blossoms.



The symbol of blood

Japanese preference

and fire, red was a sacred color in ancient

Inro — a nest of small boxes designed to hold chops (seals), spices, medicines, tobacco or cosmetics suspended from the obi (sash).



Robyn Griggs Lawrence

reflects the personality

is designing a teahouse

of the homeowners

for a school in Colorado,

and includes their

and while she plans to

personal items, things

use natural materials,

they’ve touched, felt

they won’t be bamboo

some connection

and tatami. “Wabi-sabi

with,” Griggs Lawrence

“Make sure the space

doesn’t mean shipping

says. “Mass-produced

palette created by

in things that don’t

furniture is fine, but

for complex, neutral

the natural materials

make sense for your

it’s not wabi-sabi,”

tints dates back to

available. But in Japan,


she says.

Japan, used in shrines

medieval times. In

there was no such

and as the color for

Europe, mixing colors

limitation, and color



expressing prayers.

to create new dyes

mixing was done freely,

“Keep it muted,

Later, under Chinese

was considered

creating a rainbow of

quiet, serene and

“A lot of designers

influence, it came to

wicked, a threat to

complex hues and sub-

uncluttered. Eliminate

have innate wabi-

symbolize wealth

God’s natural order.

tle variations that are

until you’re down to

sabi,” Griggs Lawrence

still appreciated today.

the bare minimum,”

says. “Wabi-sabi is

she says.

just good design.” ■

as well. European artisans were forced to work within the color

Source: “The Colors of Japan” (Kodansha International Ltd., 2000), Sadao Hibi and Kunio Fukuda


S t i r 11




TIR covers the spectrum

with New York designer Todd Oldham, who first made his name in high fashion, creating colorful

couture for celebrity clients such as Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. Now he’s branching into home furnishings and dÊcor, but without losing his adventurous color sense and his belief that interiors should flatter their occupants, just as an outfit should flatter the wearer.

From Fashion To Furniture B y K I M PA L M E R




STIR: You’re known for your use of color. Why is color so important to you?

STIR: What’s your favorite era in color?

TO: I’m fascinated by it — the science of

mustard and paprika, slightly grayed. I also like the mid-century palette: crisp cherry reds and aquas. And I like the ’70s, which was a strange hybrid of those two — murky mixed with blinding brights. That duality is always intriguing.

it, the metaphysics. It’s interesting on every level, but none more so than combining colors and breaking color rules.

STIR: Do you have a philosophy of color? TO: I wouldn’t be so bold. But I do have some guidelines. Instead of choosing a color based on looking at a paint chip in your hand or against a wall, you should look in a mirror and hold it up to your face. You should use the same sensibility you use when choosing your clothes.

STIR: Why did you make the evolution from fashion to furniture?

TO: After many years in fashion, I felt I had said everything I needed to say. Switching to furniture was a shift in medium but not a major design shift. (Oldham’s collection is manufactured by La-Z-Boy.)

STIR: Do you approach color differently when designing a dress than when designing a chair?r?

TO: They’re related. I understand the temporariness of fashion and that you might not want that in furniture. But the idea that you have furniture for the rest of your life is confining. It’s nice to be able to freshen things up.

TO: My favorite is the palette of the ’40s:

STIR: Do you have a signature color? TO: There is a shade I’m known for. It’s “Beetlewing” — sort of a phosphorus, antifreeze, lime extravaganza. It was created for a charity event featuring different designers and they put our faces on the paint cans. Ours was the No. 1 color. It’s a wild, vivid green.

STIR: What color mistakes do people commonly make?

TO: Not being brave, wimping out, choosing something that’s a pale shadow of what they want. Anytime we compromise what we want because we’re afraid, that’s a mistake. Even if you choose white, which is what is in most homes, there are many whites. Take the time to choose the right one. Warmer whites look better. Blue whites are not flattering to most people.

STIR: What are you working on now? TO: I just finished a book, “Handmade Modern,” a how-to primer. (The book is scheduled to be published by Regan Books in spring 2005.)

STIR: What’s your process for creating a color palette?

STIR: What colors do you choose to

TO: The biggest thing that gets in the way

surround yourself with in your home?

is thinking about color. You have to feel color. I lay out the paint chips. They tend to talk to you. I also use a makeup library. I like staying in color genres, such as makeup colors; it’s more compelling than color families. Makeup colors are designed to go with skin tones, and those shades have not been seen in home furnishings.

TO: I like bold mixes. At home, I have

STIR: Where do you find color inspiration?

STIR: Is there any

TO: Right now, I like the combination of colors

color you really dislike?

in desert places. Those soft palettes are pretty inspiring. I also like ethnic colors — their bravery and their natural dyes. I’m intrigued by Scandinavian palettes these days. And India has one of the most remarkable color palettes.

STIR: How would you describe the color times we live in today?

TO: Definitely neutral-based. We live in a sea of toast, taupe, loam and beige. The furniture industry is blue-obsessed, especially the shades between cobalt and royal. There’s a shift to greens, which is terrific; they look good on people.

“The biggest thing that gets in the way is thinking about color. You have to feel color.”

light blue and avocado, oranges and mustards, and also tans and creams. It’s bold but peaceful. I change colors whenever I get the itch. I’m constantly painting something.

TO: The minute I’d tell you, I’d start liking it. There are combinations I don’t like. I’m allergic to teal and mauve. It’s depressing. The ’80s are back in a big way, but some things need not return. ■

The glass pear vase and Japaneseinspired “Snap” furniture line illustrate Oldham’s signature bold color combinations. (All items from the Todd Oldham by La-Z-Boy collection.)


S t i r 13

Secrets of

selling color


n her former career as a stockbroker, Ruth Jansson learned the secret of successful selling. It’s not about talking — it’s about listening, “really listening,” says the Washington, D.C.-based senior designer and color specialist with Gensler Architecture, Design and Planning Worldwide. What clients say about color is crucial, but so are their nonverbal cues, such as the colors they choose to wear, and their facial expressions and body language when they’re reacting to color. Idea 1: Eye Candy. “You have to read between the lines,” Jansson says. “People say one thing and may mean something different. Color is all about emotions, and a palette can kill a whole design.” To gauge clients’ emotional reaction to colors, Jansson assembles “concept palettes” — objects that illustrate colors but aren’t the “real” swatches that she’d actually recommend. Instead she might include a silk scarf, a piece of jewelry or a seashell. “Eye candy, I call it,” she says. As clients handle the objects, they often reveal reactions that they wouldn’t otherwise express. Idea 2: Field Trip. For many residential clients, deciding to take the color plunge is “like bungee-jumping,” says Todd Craig, designer with TR Craig Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn. They want to try something different or daring, but they’re nervous. “It’s not so much selling people on color but easing their fears about

color and helping them understand how they’ll feel when they commit to it,” Craig says. Especially if the color value is deeper than what they’re used to, “they worry about how the room will feel — whether it will be too dark, too cave-like.” To help clients “feel” color, Craig encourages them to take field trips to commercial buildings painted in similar hues, where they can experience what it’s like to be surrounded by deeper color. “Restaurants are always good examples.” Idea 3: Supersize. Charlotte Hangorsky, designer with CH Design in Philadelphia, Pa., often coaxes her residential clients to go a shade deeper than the hue they first choose. “The white lines around the colors in the fan deck make them look darker and more saturated than they truly are,” she says. To help her clients visualize colors in their rooms, Hangorsky requests 81/2-by-11-inch samples from Sherwin-Williams. “They ship in a day, and they’re much better than looking at a tiny chip.” Idea 4: Art Works. Jansson sometimes uses visual aids from the art world to help illustrate and sell a palette. While working on a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, a few years ago, she received only a few words of direction: outdoor, California and happy. That triggered thoughts of California abstract-artist Richard Diebenkorn. Jansson created a palette based on colors used by Diebenkorn and showed her client a series of his paintings to help close the deal. “Art helps clients visualize those colors together — and also validates them,” she says. ■

“Color is all about emotions, and a palette can kill a whole design.”





Designers combine inspiration, validation and artful persuasion.




Environmental impact used to follow well behind form and function in architectural design. But many green products today look and perform just as well as less environmentally friendly offerings. B y A N D R EA G RA Z Z I N I WA LST R O M

Think outside the bark

Breathe easy

Want to wow a client while saving a forest? Consider: • Hickory or tropical angico wood for durable flooring. • Birch or t’zalam for handsome, long-lasting furniture. • Chechen and Bolivian rosewood for outdoor applications. By selecting less-harvested woods, designers can reduce pressure on common species, such as oak, mahogany and teak, that may be at risk for over-harvesting, says David Ford, president of the Certified Forest Products Council. Best of all, the lesser-known woods come in endless colors, textures and grains; can be inexpensive; and are often as easy to work with as the old standbys. To ensure that your choice meets environmental standards, specify certified sustainably harvested woods. For more information, go to or ■

When choosing paint, green-design expert Bernadette V. Upton of EcoDecor in North Palm Beach, Fla., favors Sherwin-Williams’ silica-free, antimicrobial line of Harmony® Interior Latex. Unlike conventional paints, which produce some gases when applied, zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, such as Harmony, are virtually pollutantand odor-free. Harmony meets or exceeds the criteria set by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards as defined in Green Seals, GS-II, 2002, for low VOC, while maintaining high performance. “The consistency is great, and the line has beautiful colors,” says Upton, who used Harmony in her own home. “We slept in the bedroom the night it was painted.” In fact, Upton specifies Harmony, which comes in a full line, including a primer and more than 1,000 colors, in all her projects. “I wouldn’t specify anything for my clients that I don’t use in my own house,” she says. When a contractor replaced Harmony with another paint in one of her projects, Upton’s clients had to move out until the fumes dissipated — and Upton was reminded again why she relies on Harmony Interior Latex. For more information, go to ■

The tao of green Looking to go green? The best way to start becoming a more environmentally conscious design firm is to know and apply the seven R’s: REDUCE, REMOVE, REUSE, RECYCLE, RECOVER, REPAIR and RESPECT, according to “Turning Green: A Guide to Becoming a Green Design Firm.” The pamphlet, by ASID and Associates III, a Denver-based design firm, outlines how to start thinking — and being — green, from developing environmental principles to selecting sustainable products to collaborating with clients and external partners. Download a copy at Store it on your computer to save a tree. ■


S t i r 15



Shedding A carefully chosen palette can vanish at the flick of a switch. We lit a room four ways

light Designers don’t always know how to specify the lighting that best enhances their work, says Kathy Presciano, staff instructor at the GE Lighting Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, and a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers. “If designers don’t specify lighting correctly, the electrician often will fill the socket with the cheapest lamp they can.”

so you could see the


difference lighting

There are two crucial factors when choosing lighting, Presciano says:

can make.

• The light source’s color temperature, or chromaticity, which

refers to the perceived warmth or coolness. This is a scientific measurement of the wavelengths making up the light, called the degrees Kelvin. The higher the degrees Kelvin, the cooler the light.

• The color rendering index, or CRI, is a number between 1 and 100. For more information about lighting and its impact on color, go to Note: Paint colors for the walls at right are Sherwin-Williams Rapture Blue (SW 6773) and Osage Orange (SW 6890).





The higher the CRI, the better the lamp will make colors appear.

Natural daylight


Natural daylight offers exceptional color rendering. Daylight has a

The household light bulb is the most familiar form of incandescent light,

CRI of 100, indicating no color shift when compared with a reference

but there are hundreds of alternatives, most offering excellent color

source. Daylight’s chromaticity fluctuates, but in general, daylight is

rendering. Incandescent light is produced by a tungsten wire inside a

slightly cool. When daylight harvesting (combining manmade and

glass bulb, which becomes white hot in response to electrical current,

natural light), select slightly cooler light sources to blend most effectively

infusing rooms with a warm wash of golden light. Halogen lamps, in

with the cool natural light coming in through windows. Lighting in this

which the filament is enclosed within a tiny tube containing pressurized

room: 5500 degrees Kelvin.

halogen gas, also are part of the incandescent family; their light is slightly cleaner and whiter. Lighting in this room: 3200 degrees Kelvin.

Warm fluorescent

Cool fluorescent

Fluorescent lamps are practical because they use less energy, cost less to

Warm or cool fluorescent? Your decision may be influenced by several

operate and add less heat. They’re not popular because they’re known for

factors. One is the color palette: Warm fluorescents can enhance reds

casting a harsh, greenish hue. The technology has improved dramatically

and yellows, while cool fluorescents can help make blues and greens

in recent years, and fluorescent lights now come in a variety of colors

pop. Climate can be a factor; some designers specify cool lighting in

from warm white to cool, depending on the composition of the phosphor

hot climates to help make rooms seem cooler. When choosing either warm

coating. Lighting in this room: 3000 degrees Kelvin, 70 CRI.

or cool fluorescent lighting, look for a CRI in the high 70s to low 80s. Lighting in this room: 4100 degrees Kelvin, 80 CRI. SHERWIN-WILLIAMS

S t i r 17





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What’s currently on your nightstand, desk or laptop? We asked several interior designers to share what they’re reading these days — and why — whether it’s a new resource they’ve just discovered or an old favorite they find themselves returning to again and again. Historic colors, then and now

Fresh, fanciful combinations

Integrating exterior colors

The World of Interiors magazine (

“Think Color: Rooms to Live In” by Tricia Guild, Elspeth Thompson and James Merrell (CHRONICLE BOOKS, 2002)

“Color in Townscape: for Architects, Designers and Contractors, for City-Dwellers and Other Observant People” by Martina Duttmann, Friedrich Schmuck and Johannes Uhl (W.H. Freeman, 1981)

“This magazine is kind of avant-garde. It shows many historic houses, with older colors that you don’t often see now, but combined in new ways. It also shows contemporary homes, finding out-of-the-ordinary people with interesting taste, like an American woman who took pine cones and created a pattern on her wall. You wouldn’t see their houses in Elle Décor.” — MICHELLE BABYOK, MCCARTAN, NEW YORK CITY

“I read Tricia Guild for inspiration. She’s an interior designer from Great Britain who uses colors in unusual ways. She’s very free with her mixes of colors; she’ll combine things that people in the U.S. might consider ‘clashy,’ such as hot pink and orange. She has a line of textiles, and she was one of the first people to combine purple and lime green in one fabric. Her books include both photos of rooms and palettes. I like to glance through them for ideas, especially for kids’ rooms.” — LISA PECK, PISA DESIGN, MINNEAPOLIS

“I collect books, and this is one of my favorites. ‘Color in Townscape’ shows facades of buildings from all over the world, both primitive and contemporary architecture, to show how color and texture are used and integrated on exteriors and in the context of the street. The book includes black-and-white outline diagrams of building facades that you can fill in with color. You can use them to play around and see what works.” — JOANN ECKSTUT, THE ROOMWORKS, NEW YORK CITY

Note: To see an online photo gallery of Guild’s colorful London home, go to







Color and Light The essence of stained glass is color — but it doesn’t come from dyes or pigments. It’s created from metallic salts and oxides. When added to glass, these minerals capture specific parts of the spectrum of white light, allowing our eyes to see different colors. Add silver and you get yellows and golds. Gold produces cranberry. Copper makes greens and brick red. Cobalt creates blues. Source: Art Glass Association

Louis Comfort Tiffany leaded glass window with magnolias and irises, ca. 1908.

H a r m o n y . Th e p e r f e c t b l e n d o f p e r f o r m a n c e a n d e c o l o g y. ®

Now there’s a coating that meets your quality expectations without compromising environmental concerns. We call it Harmony. This high-hiding, low-odor, zero VOC, silica-free paint has anti-microbial properties that protect the paint film, and is available in hundreds of colors. Plus it is washable and durable, so you know your look will last. Keep performance and aesthetic requirements covered in perfect Harmony. To learn more, see your Sherwin-Williams Architectural Account Executive or call our Architect and Designer Answerline at 1-800-321-8194 for color and product information.

T h e Co l o r s . T h e Pa i n t . T h e Po s s i b i l i t i e s ™. © 2 0 0 3 T h e S h e r w i n -Wi l l i a m s C o m p a n y

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PAID Cenveo

STIR 1.1 2004  
STIR 1.1 2004  

STIR magazine from Sherwin-Williams Volume 1 Issue 1, 2004.