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 2 • I s s u e 2 • 2 0 0 5
s t i r
Color Psych 101
Editorial Advisor: Tresa Makowski Executive Editor: Bryan Iwamoto Editor: Kim Palmer Managing Editor: Laura Pigott Executive Art Director: Sandy Rumreich Senior Designer: Cate Hubbard Senior Editors: Jim Thorp, Lynn Bronson Production Director: Kim Olson Traffic: Mitch Thompson Client Services: Amy Kromminga STIR™ magazine is published by Hanley Wood, LLC, on behalf of The SherwinWilliams 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.sherwin-williams.com 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, © 2005 Sherwin-Williams, Vol. 2. Issue 2, 2005
Advisory Board Joann Eckstut The Roomworks New York, N.Y. STIR
Janet Friedman, ASID Friedman & Shields Greenbrae, Calif. Ruth Jansson, IIDA, LEED, AP 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
ore than ever, color choices seem to be motivated by primal emotions and sensory experiences. For years, the walls in my home were clad in creams and whites, blank backdrops for brighter furnishings, and art. Now all my walls are shades of yellow, from butter to citrus, the reflection, perhaps, of a need to summon forth a sunnier mood and time. I find inspiration in the warmth and positive energy of color that evokes the first hopeful daffodils of spring, a frosty glass of lemonade during summer’s heat, and the last defiant leaves of autumn.
The growing popularity of the color Latté (SW 6108), the most requested SherwinWilliams paint chip, is further testimony to the power of the senses to influence our perceptions. The coffeehouse craze that spawned a smash TV sitcom and put a café on every corner is surely linked to the increasing appreciation for colors like Latté. Once disdained as muddy and drab, they are now described as robust and full-bodied, just like their namesake brews. While midtone to darker neutrals are coming into their own, variations of white are still Sherwin-Williams’ best-selling paint colors. Just as indigenous peoples of the North have dozens of words for snow, designers can call upon the many hues of white to convey the unique properties and sensations of the spaces they create. Sincerely,
Sheri Thompson Director, Color Marketing and Design Group The Sherwin-Williams Company
P.S. Be sure to visit swstir.com to learn more about this issue’s topics and get a preview of our next issue.
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C O N T E N T S
s t i r Vo l u m e 2 • I s s u e 2 • 2 0 0 5
ON THE COVER COLOR PSYCH 101
THE WHY OF WHITE
Research on the impact of color on mood and behavior shows that situation often plays as important a role as science.
Design possibilities and pointers for a wide range of whites showcase the power of pale in a variety of settings.
A VISION IN GREEN
Kids come up with new colors. COLOR To Go™ makes color sampling easy. A manual to help you sell clients on color. A sneak preview of Sherwin-Williams’ redesigned Web site. Why higher-quality paint costs less.
Vermont’s ECHO museum, evangelist for a greener way of life, walks its talk with environmentfriendly color.
8 CROWNING GLORY Intricately painted ceiling lends grandeur to a study in suburban Pennsylvania.
LIVING IN COLOR
The hippest fibers are made from a sustainable harvest of cornhusks, herbs and hemp.
Chic furniture and accessories coordinate with Latté, Sherwin-Williams’ most requested color sample.
16 BLOOMING COLOR Master gardener and author Debra Prinzing offers tips on designing colorcoordinated outdoor rooms.
20 FINAL TOUCH The color science behind neon, brash symbol of Vegas style.
COLOR SPY Monique Lhuillier, bridal designer and couturier to the stars, reflects on color in fashion.
Palette COLOR N EWS AN D SOLUTIONS FROM SH ERWI N-WI LLIAMS
VISUAL SNACK PACKS Want to make sure Flattering Peach (SW 6638) looks as sweet on your walls as it does on paper? Now you can “taste-test” Sherwin-Williams colors before applying them to entire rooms with the new Sherwin-Williams COLOR To Go™ color-sampling program. COLOR To Go samples are mixed by request in small Twist-n-Pour™ containers. This try-before-you-buy program includes more than 550 paint colors from the comprehensive Sherwin-Williams COLOR palette and can also be used for the sampling and approval
of custom color matches. COLOR To Go paint samples take the guesswork out of choosing the right color by allowing you to see your color selection in context so you can assess the impact of environmental factors such as natural and artificial light. One sample covers a generous 75 square feet to give you a true representation of the color and give your clients confidence in their color selections. COLOR To Go paint samples are just one more way we help you incorporate color in your designs and sell color to your customers. To request a COLOR To Go sample in the hue of your choice,
PAINT QUALITY Paint Quality BOTTOM Bottom LineLINE Choosing a less expensive paint may seem like
Orange-red bedroom treatment option
a way to reduce costs on a painting project.
from Eckstut’s color primer.
But because labor is by far the biggest line item, using an inexpensive paint can actually increase the total cost of the job; lower-quality paints usually require more coats — and more hours of labor — to achieve full coverage. Higher-quality paints also help reduce long-term maintenance costs because they offer better resistance to burnishing and stains and require less frequent repainting, again saving on costly labor.
Cost to paint interior of 3,500-square-foot new home
Paint cost ....................$4,498 (200 gallons @ $22.49/gallon)
Labor cost..................$14,700 (392 hours @ $37.50/hour)
Total cost ..............$19,198
Paint cost ..................$4,280 (154 gallons @ $27.79/gallon)
Labor cost ................$11,325 (302 hours @ $37.50/hour)
Total cost ..............$15,605
Paint cost ....................$5,542
THE CURE FOR COLOR BLOCK Sooner or later, every designer hits a wall — that elusive color combo they can’t seem to find or that conservative client they just can’t crack. To overcome the worst cases of color block, color expert Joann Eckstut has developed “The Color Palette Primer” (Broadway Books, 2005), the latest must-have book to help you introduce and sell color to clients. Featuring more than 800 foolproof palettes from across the spectrum, Eckstut’s “Primer” uses eight iconic interior illustrations to show colors in combination, eliminating the differences in lighting, flooring, architecture and other details that photos can contain. She also includes sections on understanding color and our eyes’ response to it, color testing tips, painting pointers and manufacturer reference sections. The result is a teaching tool, workbook and reference guide for design professionals, color customers and do-it-yourselfers alike. “The book provides three different options for each dominant color,” Eckstut says. “So, for example, if you have a client who likes a particular orange-red, she can see it in three schemes: one complementary, one analogous,
one monochromatic. … Once people get the book in their hands, they love leafing through it finding their favorite combos. It opens people up to a world of possibility and experimentation.” Other home remedies: “The Comfort of Color” by Susan Sargent (Bulfinch Press, 2004) Sargent’s own love affair with color shines through in case studies that transform tentative clients into color visionaries and ordinary houses into extraordinary homes. A must-have for colorphiles of any stripe. “Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors” by Betty Edwards (Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2004) Using techniques developed in her own color workshops, Edwards teaches artists, designers and the color laity how to see, use, mix and combine colors. Includes more than 125 color images and exercises. n
(154 gallons @ $35.99/gallon)
Labor cost......................$9,188 (245 hours @ $37.50/hour)
Total cost ..............$14,730 (Based on field testing of Sherwin-Williams products)
Virtual Job Site Whether you’re a seasoned professional or
Design professionals also can access:
a design newbie, the new Sherwin-Williams
• Other color tools and resources to make
Web site can help your interiors look their best. Now you can test palettes and access more than 135 years of painting and decorating expertise, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the new sherwin-williams.com.
selection, matching and sampling easier. • Product information and specifications.
information specifically for designers and architects.
online store locater, promotions, and more.
navigation, expanded content and improved searchability, the renovated site offers an interactive Color Visualizer that enables you to experiment with all
Sherwin-Williams account holders can place orders and make purchases online as well.
the Sherwin-Williams colors and more than
It’s not just about paint. It’s about finding
1,400 coordinated color schemes. This new
everything you need to do your job well at
tool, along with the 2005 COLOR Forecast
one convenient place that’s always open:
from Sherwin-Williams, which can also be
found on the site, helps you design with all the hottest colors.
by Pleasant Grove, Utah, first-graders.
• Case studies, green solutions and
• A searchable online catalog, an advanced In addition to providing more-intuitive
Colors, including Tin, top center, created
FRESH MINDS FRESH COLORS What does it take to expand your palette? According to volunteer “art mom” Heather Pack, you need the five basic colors — red, blue, yellow, black and white — and a bit of imagination. Last fall, Pack showed a first-grade class in Pleasant Grove, Utah, how to create and name new colors like the pros. She showed them a Sherwin-Williams COLOR Specifier fan deck and explained that each of the 1,000plus colors comes from those five basic colors mixed in different combinations. Then they put on their smocks and tried their hand at it. The results, Pack says, were amazing. “You can create anything in the world with those five basic colors. I asked them to think about how the colors they created made them feel and to name them.” Many of the children referenced nature or familiar materials – Tin, for example — while others invented entirely new words for their colors, such as “Prylit.” Pack then submitted the colors and names to Sherwin-Williams to be considered for its next palette. Pack volunteers at a time when arts funding has been cut at public schools in Utah. Encouraging her students to create new colors helps her illustrate the importance of art, she says. n Make your job easier with professional color selection tools from Sherwin-Williams. Replacement chips, larger color samples or a fan deck are available online at www.sherwin-williams.com or call (800) 382-6567 or e-mail email@example.com. For other color resources, contact your Architectural Account Executive or call (800) 321-9194 to have an account executive contact you
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” — PABLO PICASSO
THE WHY OF
A deeper look at the many shades of pale
“Think of a yellow school bus, then imagine it white,” says Andrew Oyen. “By reducing one factor — color — you suddenly draw attention to its other elements.”
B y C H A R LOT T E STO U DT
n the face of it, white walls are as simple and safe as it gets, the last refuge of the color-phobic. Maybe that’s because white carries such reassuring associations: freshness, purity, even holiness. White promises a dirt-free, germ-resistant, till-deathdo-us-part world (although white weddings are not traditional in Asia, where the color connotes death and mourning). But despite the color’s profound symbolism in Western culture, it’s the singular visual impact of white that may make it the strongest design statement of all. “Think of a yellow school bus, then imagine it white,” says Andrew Oyen, an associate at the New York City architecture and design firm Ferguson & Shamamian. “Or take a hearse and make it white. By reducing one factor — color — you suddenly draw attention to its other elements.” White’s ability to heighten awareness of space, shape and light has made it a perennial favorite of celebrated architects and designers as diverse as Mario Botta, Gwathmey-Siegel, Rose Tarlow and Richard Meier, who has praised the hue’s unique ability to intensify our “perception of all of the shades of the rainbow” while still retaining “its absoluteness.”
White’s self-possession, its almost aristocratic indifference to the threat of common dirt, endows it with effortless glamour. Manhattan’s trendsetting design store, Troy, recently reissued a line of classic black-and-silver Danish modernist furniture — this time in white leather. The color keeps reinventing itself as a way to simplify and savor simultaneously, an appealing combination for those seeking respite from a hectic world without sacrificing a sense of luxury.
Palette refresher Andrew Flesher, named one of House Beautiful magazine’s “Next Wave of Designers,” recently chose a serene, white-on-white palette for his own Minneapolis loft. After assembling colors for clients all day, he says, his gallery-like space offers soothing visual relief: a “blank canvas” that clears his mind. The usual complaints about white — that it’s sterile, boring, too hard to maintain — may have more to do with limited imaginations than the possibilities of the color itself. “The sky’s the limit with whites,” enthuses Flesher, principal with Gunkelman Flesher Interior Design. “There are an infinite number of whites, and which one you choose can make all the difference in the world.”
“ There are an infinite number of whites, and the one
you choose can make all the difference in the world.”
Light makes white What really makes a great white soar or sink is its interaction with both natural and artificial light sources. Daylight conditions vary locally (from wall to wall in a single room) and geographically (compare the intense sunlight of Los Angeles with the softer light of the Northeast), so “it’s critical to look at the white you’re considering under the actual lighting,” Flesher says. Even a color expert like Ralich Spak sometimes has to learn the hard way. “When I was looking at different whites for my bedroom, I wanted something serene but not clinical,” she recalls. “I selected a crisp, blue white. When I tried it out, the bedroom looked like the inside of a refrigerator!” Keep in mind that “the brighter the light, the more the pigment used in the white will show,” Oyen says. “In Greece, those chalkwhite walls become glaring under intense sunlight. In a brightly lit room, warm rosy
white can turn into strawberry ice cream very quickly. But that same rosy white in a darker space might look cozy.”
Finishing touches Adding a subtle sheen to a flat white is another way to achieve an intimate glow. “You can do a lot of things with white just by changing the finish,” says Sheri Thompson, director of the Color Marketing and Design Group. For example, Sherwin-Williams offers a pearlized finish that can be used as a final coat or as highlights or striping (applied with a dry roller). She especially likes the effect when used in a powder room or bedroom, but recommends experimenting. “It’s a very versatile product.” And if you’re having trouble finding the right white for the effect you’re after, SherwinWilliams’ paint experts can custom-blend a color based on a sample (a piece of fabric, for example). Debbie Insana of the company’s Color Marketing Lab notes that its updated spectrophotometry system, Sher-Color™, can create a “thumbprint” of a desired hue more accurately than ever before. The service is available in most Sherwin-Williams stores. There are endless ways to incorporate white’s unique qualities into any design configuration. Both Flesher and Oyen love the visual impact of white floors. The gleaming flooring in Flesher’s loft was achieved with the help of an industrial epoxy used in airport hangars. Another choice is to whitewash a wood floor — especially in an older building, such as a converted farmhouse — so that the roughness of the grain shows through the paint. “By covering a rustic surface with white, you’re mixing two ideas,” Oyen says. “You get a sense of texture and freshness simultaneously.” Don’t these designers ever get sick of white? “I really don’t!” Flesher laughs. Oyen agrees. “The qualities of freshness, cleanness and timelessness will always make white easy to rely on. All that, and it still has as much subtlety as any other color.” n
LOFT PHOTOGRAPHS BY SUSAN GILMORE
Zeroing in on the perfect white means following the same rules you’d apply to any color match. If you’re dealing with existing features or furnishings, stay within color families. “Make sure the base of your white is congruent with the other things in the room,” Flesher says. Even if you’re just painting a ceiling white in a room with color on the walls, consider cutting that white with one-fourth of the wall color. “Don’t just use ‘ceiling white,’ ” he cautions. Sherwin-Williams offers a wide range of whites with different bases. Dover White (SW 6385) achieves its creamy warmth with a touch of yellow, while Navajo White’s (SW 6126) brown tones give it an earthy but clean feeling. Becky Ralich Spak, senior designer with Sherwin-Williams’ Color Marketing and Design Group, loves Alabaster White (SW 7008). “It’s a beautiful white, so fresh but with a little softness. It works wonderfully with neutrals, especially khaki and tan.” Antique White (SW 6119) pairs well with stained or weathered wood trims, she adds.
WHEN TO GO WHITE To complement, rather than compete with, nature’s palette. Make the most of a room with a striking outdoor view. “A white room picks up all of the color coming in from outside,” Flesher notes. To create a feeling of intimacy. While wood paneling can generate artificial warmth, it absorbs natural light. White walls reflect daylight directly, imbuing an interior with a cozy glow. To reclaim the visual possibilities of a period space. Oyen remembers clients who were moving into an old apartment painted in lavish, almost overwhelming colors. “They whitewashed the whole apartment, which created a sense of neutrality. Then they gradually brought back color over time. Going white first enabled them to see the space in a new way.” To show off beautiful moldings. White showcases the details. “It becomes about the play of shadows,” Flesher says.
Designer Andrew Flesher chose a white-on-white color palette for his Minneapolis loft.
A vision in green Form follows Earth-friendly function at a lakeshore science center in Vermont
exhibit are the star attractions. Metals are mostly unpainted. Woods are left with their natural finish. The 18-color paint palette, mostly deep shades of red, gray, blue and black, draws from the natural hues of the surrounding region. “We were very dedicated to the use of natural color,” Alvarez says. The rich, dense red, for example, evokes native stone.
Before colors were chosen, the first requirements for paints and coatings were that they be water-based and meet strict VOC (volatile organic compound) standards. When Mike Talbot, president of Finishing Touches Painting, won the bid for the ECHO project, he turned to Jim Reid, the Sherwin-Williams representative for the Vermont area. Sherwin-Williams’ Harmony® Interior Latex Low-Odor Coatings with zero VOCs met the stringent LEED requirements, while also delivering high performance. “We used Harmony whenever possible,” Reid says. About 90 percent of the walls were painted with B y JA M E S WA L S H
he idea was to create a visual gem along the shores of Lake Champlain, a vibrant cultural centerpiece on what had been an industrial waterfront. But designers and architects had an additional goal: They wanted to create a showcase for a greener way of life. ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vt., is just such a jewel. The 28,000-square foot science center is the first Vermont project certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) site. In everything from the paint and building materials to the toilets in the restrooms, ECHO not only teaches the public how to live a more environmentally friendly life, it demonstrates. ECHO, which stands for Ecology, Culture, History and Opportunity, is dedicated to keeping Lake Champlain pristine. Bren Alvarez, a partner in Smith-Alvarez-Sienkiewycz Architects, which designed the center, says that a sustainable approach was the only conceivable option for a building on a prominent waterfront site. The color palette for the project echoes the environmental theme. At the heart of the design was the decision to rely on natural materials, colors and light. Skylights and huge windows let sunlight illuminate much of the center, where a freshwater aquarium and a shipwreck
At the heart of the design was the decision to rely on natural materials, colors and light. Harmony, although some surfaces required other coatings. High-traffic areas were sealed with a water-based polyurethane, Sherwin-Williams Wood Classics, while exposed metal surfaces were protected with Sherwin-Williams’ low-VOC Bond Plex Acrylic Coating. The green message is carried throughout the $14.5 million project, says Katrina Roberts, director of external affairs. Environmentally friendly features include fiber-optic day lighting, a solar thermal system for water heating, auto-dimming fluorescent lights and recycled materials. Even in the restrooms, visitors are presented with environmentally friendly choices, such as a button they can push to conserve water when they flush. ECHO’s design also showcases the natural beauty of its setting. The open space is full of light, cut by sharp angles and graceful curves, while windows offer views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. “It’s a thoroughly modern space, yet very Vermont,” Roberts says. “It’s special, without being shiny.” n
PHOTOGRAPH THIS PAGE BY SALLY MCCAY. OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP: JIM WESTPHALEN; BOTTOM: BRIAN VANDEN BRINK.
Clean air first
MAKING THE CHOICE Choosing “green paint” means making the environmentally conscious decision to use a water-based, low- or no-VOC formula. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are petroleum-based solvents that are present in most conventional paints. Sherwin-Williams’ Harmony® Interior Latex Coatings offers a zero-VOC, low-odor alternative, while still delivering a durable finish. To use them most effectively, consider the following: • Low-VOC paints often dry more quickly. This isn’t a problem for most professionals, but can be a challenge for amateurs. • Although Harmony is available in more than 1,000 colors, some very deep shades Opposite page: Aquarium viewing porthole
in the ECHO palette were not available,
Top: Second floor foyer
according to Mike Talbot, president of
Bottom: Café entryway
Finishing Touches Painting, the Vermontbased contractor that worked on the ECHO project. To achieve those deep shades, Sherwin-Williams ColorAccents Interior Latex was tinted with Sherwin-Williams Envirotoner Colorant. ColorAccents is low-VOC and meets LEED guidelines. • Earth-friendly coatings were well worth the effort on the ECHO project, Talbot says, and green fits well with Vermont, a state known for its clean air and water. He says the low-odor, high-performance Harmony coatings stand on their own merits. “The products are great; we use them even on projects that don’t require them.”
How does hue affect mood and behavior? Science can offer clues, but the answers are rarely black and white
B y A N D R EA G RA Z Z I N I WA LST R O M
To understand the impact of color on the human mind, consider the operating room, says Shashi Caan, chairwoman of the interior design program at Parsons School of Design. Dominant colors in an operating theater don’t come from the décor, she points out. They are the red of human blood and tissue and the seafoam green or blue-green of surgical scrubs. Aesthetics aside, this color combination is unlikely to change. As long as blood is red, Caan says, the complementary colors of the ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOSÉ ORTEGA
scrubs will serve the important function of absorbing the surgeon’s visual afterimage when she briefly looks away from her patient. If scrubs were, say, white like a doctor’s lab coat, staring into all that crimson without a visual respite would nauseate surgeons. SHERWIN-WILLIAMS
S t i r 11
Like the surgeon, we are all affected by environmental color. But unlike in the operating room, where the need to maintain sterility demands a minimum of architectural color, the colors in most interior environments can be planned to achieve desired effects. Color can be employed to energize, subdue, inspire, aggravate or stimulate. Of course none of this is news to design professionals. Fast-food restaurants have used appetite-stimulating orange for decades, while (appetite-suppressing) blue restaurants are as rare as blue moons. Pink, thought to dull aggression, has been used to subdue prisoners in correctional institutions – and players in opposing teams’ locker rooms. For years parents heeded the advice of color expert Carlton Wagner, who cautioned against painting nurseries yellow, because, he said, the stimulating color would make babies cry. You won’t find red walls in your cardiologist’s office, not just because he sees enough of it in the operating room, but because the color has been proven to raise blood pressure. Freudian analyst Bruno Bettelheim was rumored to have painted patients blue to quell their anxiety.
Color and context For the most part, many of these color assumptions remain intact today, says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. However, she and others caution designers to dig deeper into the science of color psychology and the context of their projects before applying any paint. “Anybody can figure out that you want soothing colors in bedrooms and more stimulating colors in high-activity areas,” says Janet Friedman of Friedman & Shields, a Californiaand Arizona-based design firm. Though color psychology rules are far from universal, she notes. Just as people have differing color preferences, they also have different physical and
psychological reactions to color. Their reactions can be influenced by everything from gender and age to socioeconomic status and heritage — and can be as individual as fingerprints. For example, a study conducted at the University of Texas found that women experienced more depression in white, gray and beige offices. Men, meanwhile, reported the same feelings in orange or purple rooms. Retailers routinely use color to attract desired customers. “The more money you pay,” Friedman says, “the more you expect [store design to include] deep soothing colors,” that suggest luxury and invite lingering.
Color in flux Color can be a shape-shifter in different settings. Most designers test colors in their intended environment to anticipate changes that might occur with different lighting. Colors that everyone loved on a selection board can take on a whole new feel in the context of a finished room, Friedman notes. The turquoise-and-yellow combination that looked merely spunky on sample chips can positively vibrate in large doses. Even memory plays a role in human reactions to color. Green borrows from nature its benevolent effect on most people. But a child
European researchers concluded that a greater effect than hue. They found most exciting, while dull colors, no matter Subdued nursing-home color palettes may be more stereotypical than senior-sensitive, since many seniors are color blind. If they do see color differences, they might be put off by au courant chartreuse — but nostalgic in the presence of vintage peach. Primary colors have long been a favorite in kids’ rooms. Still, Friedman cautions,“If your children tend to be hyperactive, you’re going to give them a much quieter palette.” Hispanic interiors are often awash in bright sherbet tones, while many Asians are most comfortable in understated environments. But ethnic preferences aren’t so straightforward, Eiseman says. When she went to China, for example, she was told to steer clear of yellow, the color of rulers, because it evokes Mao Tse-tung. The Chinese students Eiseman met either didn’t remember or didn’t care. They loved yellow.
scared by a costumed witch’s green face may find the color disturbing even as an adult. On the other hand, that response might depend on the particular shade of green. European researchers concluded that color saturation has a greater effect than hue. They found most deep colors to be equally exciting, while dull colors, no matter the hue, were calming. The translation from the lab to real life, though, can be complicated and tricky. The Baker-Miller pink devised for use in prison cells does have an immediate calming effect, Eiseman points out. However, studies conducted after prisoners adapted to the color found that the effects diminished over time. An Arizona sheriff learned this the hard way. After extended periods in their pink cells, inmates in Maricopa County jails got more, rather than less, agitated, Freidman says. Now the prisoners are issued pink underwear.
FIND OUT WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY “Color & Human Response” by Faber Birren (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1978) Physiological and emotional response to color.
“Colors for Your Every Mood” (Capital Books, 1998) and “Pantone’s Guide to Communicating With Color” (Grafix Press, 2000), both by Leatrice Eiseman. Psychological impact of using color and color combinations in living environments and design projects.
“Color and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism” by John Gage (University of California Press, 2000) Color symbolism in history, literature and psychology.
“Color, Environment & Human Response” by Frank H. Mahnke (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996) Psychological and physiological effects of color in the man-made environment.
As for the yellow embargo on infants’ rooms, feel free to break it, Eiseman says. “Wagner just hated yellow,” she says, to the extent that he even denigrated those who liked the color, calling them “neurotic.” After much searching, Eiseman hasn’t found any research that supports Wagner’s claims that the sunny color bugs babies.
Color is subjective Indeed, too much reliance on external justification troubles Caan, principal with the Shashi Caan Collective. “We need to rely more on intuition,” she says. “Life is messy.” And too
color saturation has deep colors to be equally the hue, to be calming. complex to replicate in a lab. “We as designers need to become not only scientists and psychologists but also rational people and artists.”That means considering color holistically in the vernacular of the people with whom it interacts and the context of the place where it will be applied. Teresa Cox, a St. Paul artist known for her exuberant, color-filled canvases, is a case in point. Cox responds viscerally to color, and her artistic experimentation reinforces her intuition. Her studio, which is also her home, is filled with color: a saturated golden-green floor, a deep-indigo wall; not to mention her colorful paintings everywhere. The tension between all these intense and competing hues would overstimulate many people. For Cox, they are like an elixir. When she once tried to create an 8-foot canvas in shades of only gray, black and white, Cox felt uneasy. “I was literally having cravings for color,” she says. “I broke out my other paints and started to add red, which gave me an immediate lift.” Just as a few brush strokes of scarlet paint gave Cox a jolt of energy, even a tiny dose of color can profoundly affect a design. Use the wrong color in the wrong place, and “you'll know it,” Friedman says. “Your teeth will start to itch.” Get it right, Eiseman says, and “there is a bell that rings.” ■
WHAT'S YOUR COLOR SIGN? If color psychology is just a little too clinical, maybe it’s time to consult the stars. Colorstrology plots the numerological vibration of your birthday to give you a colorcoded guide to live by. Were you born in February? If so, your color is uplifting lilac. June? Radiant gold. October? Peaceful cerulean. The very day you were born has its own unique color and attendant attributes. And a monthly forecast advises what color to surround yourself with to improve everything from your home life to your love life. For a little cosmic inspiration — or just for fun, visit www.colorstrology.com.
Crowning glory A lavishly painted ceiling brings regal presence to a suburban study
By LAU RA WEXLER
CEILING SAVVY Sheri Thompson, director of
because it’s a horizontal plane
and you’re looking up at it,”
Marketing and Design Group,
Devine says. “Once you’ve
says that homeowners are willing
completed the design and
to do more decoratively with
composition, you need to figure
ceilings because they see them as
out which elements need to
the fifth wall to a room. With tray
stand out. Those receive a
ceilings and other variations
higher color value.”
becoming more common in new homes, the ceiling is a canvas waiting to be transformed by decorative painting. But ceilings do pose unique challenges: Design. Ceiling design is a technical process and requires understanding of layout, composition, perspective and graphic arts, Eileen Devine says. “It’s twice as hard to paint a ceiling as a wall,” painter William Gordon says. Keep that in mind when creating the design — detail equals dollars. Color. Devine always buys small quantities of paint and experiments on the ceiling, then evaluates it based on the light. “It’s difficult to tell anything without doing that
Lighting. “In a dark room, you’ll need a light fixture that provides enough uplight to illuminate the ceiling mural,” Devine says. Forget recessed lighting! Furniture placement. “If your ceiling design is symmetrical, with a central medallion, the furniture has to be placed accordingly,” Devine says. In the study, the oval desk was placed directly under the medallion. Ceiling height. “In a two-story space, you might use moreintense, richer colors to make it feel more cozy,” Devine says. “For a room with a lower ceiling, intense colors could make you feel closed in.” PHOTOGRAPHS BY REBECCA MOTT
hen interior designer Eileen Devine visited Radhika and Dimitri Gunasekera’s home in Glen Mills, Pa., the first thing she noticed was that the central foyer offered a great view of the blank white ceiling in the adjoining study. So when the Gunasekeras asked Devine to decorate the study, the centerpiece of her design plan was a paint treatment for the ceiling. As designer Cynthia Fisher, who assisted Devine on the project, says, “So many times a ceiling goes unnoticed. This was an opportunity to play it up.” Devine, owner of the interior design studio Devine Designs in Wayne, Pa., often looks to history for inspiration. She and Fisher envisioned a symmetrical design featuring a rich palette of colors that would imbue the room with classical formality. But she also wanted to incorporate elements that echoed the Gunasekeras’ Sri Lankan ancestry. Luckily, painter William Gordon, who has worked with Devine for years, had traveled to India and photographed the interior of the Taj Mahal. He pulled the photos from his file, and together, he and Devine created the design: a central blue medallion — or oculus — meant to evoke the sky, surrounded by smaller medallions and corner pieces painted in rose, which contain vines and flowers. Part of what’s striking about the mural is that it appears to date from the same historical period as the study’s antique furnishings. Gordon “aged” the colors by painting the base coat with Sherwin- Williams Cashmere® flat enamel, which offers a flat finish with a slight sheen, then covering it with Sherwin-Williams Illusions® Glaze tinted various shades. These days, the view of the study’s ceiling from the Gunasekeras’ foyer isn’t a blank white canvas, but a rich classical painting. “A painted ceiling is high impact,” Devine says. “In a room that lacks interesting architectural details, it’s a way of adding interest.” ■
Pewter (SW 6208) TRIM
Oyster Bay (SW 6206) CEILING
Sea Salt (SW 6204) Harmonic (SW 6136) Open Seas (SW 6500) Decorous Amber (SW 0007) Renwick Olive (SW 2815)
S t i r 15
G O I N G
G R E E N
The newest green fibers are coming in from the fields B y A N D R EA G RA Z Z I N I WA LST R O M
You don’t have to be an environmental activist to love the latest in sustainable fibers. From the runway to Saks, fashion is embracing green design materials, and the best-dressed interiors are following suit. It’s as much about being hip as about hugging trees, according to Robyn Griggs Lawrence, editor in chief of Natural Home and Garden magazine. “It’s an aesthetic that people are moving toward … the natural look rather than a slick look.” Women’s fashion apparel is the fastest-growing segment of organicfiber product sales, but designers of all disciplines are demanding more and better organic fabrics, and they’re getting them — sometimes from unexpected places.
How about some corn with your carpet? From Shaw Industries comes carpet made of Ingeo™ — a fiber derived from corn husks and leaves. It looks a lot like sisal (and costs about the same), and is also biodegradable, recyclable and washable. Aside from being healthy for the environment, new fabrics from the East promise health benefits for people too. Itoi Textile of Japan makes funky sasawashi fabric out of herbs and paper to add a little eco-friendly spice to bedding and bath textiles. It is highly absorbant as well as antibacterial and hypoallergenic. As a bonus, minerals in the fiber may help cure what
ails you; coral comforters and futons from Showa Nishikawa produce negative ions to induce deep sleep and reduce static.
Pick a bale of cotton The old standbys are only getting better; and with increasing demand, costs for some formerly spendy green products are coming down. “Organic cotton and organic linen are becoming more accessible,” Griggs Lawrence says. Cotton, usually heavily treated with pesticides, is uncommonly soft and luxurious without all that bug spray. And gone are the granola colors (that is, unless you prefer them). Some Gaiam textiles feature low-impact plant dyes from such earthy and renewable sources as indigo and turmeric.
These aren’t your Earth Mother’s fabrics No longer just the stuff of those blocky, rough tunics sold at folk concerts, the newest hemps are soft enough to serve as baby blankets. Brushing techniques soften the coarsest plant fibers. And, of course, hemp, with its antibacterial properties, still makes for a great rug. As do environmentally astute fibers such as sisal, coir, jute and wool. And don’t forget busy, multitasking bamboo, which has expanded from furniture and flooring to couch cushions and curtains. ■
Green efforts reap awards The U.S. General Services Administration
recently awarded Sherwin-Williams its “Most Environmentally Friendly
Look for the GreenSmart logo
air-quality ratings with low VOC
water-based formula, made
Contractor” award for its ongoing
(volatile organic compounds) and
with technology that prevents
commitment to research and development
low odor; and it meets or exceeds
stains from penetrating,
of products that reduce the amount of
Making Earth-friendly paint
the GS-11 criteria used in
ensuring easy washability
waste and chemicals released into the
choices just got easier. In
Leadership in Energy and
without harsh chemicals.
environment. Several Sherwin-Williams
response to the growing demand
for green building products,
(LEED) certified buildings.
Sherwin-Williams has introduced
Currently two Sherwin-
a new designation (GreenSmart)
Williams products meet
for its environmentally preferred
the demanding criteria – new
immediate occupancy of
its “Director’s Award” in
coatings. The GreenSmart logo
Duration Home™ Interior Latex
newly painted spaces. For
recognition of its
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and Harmony® Interior Latex
more information about the
the following criteria: long-term
Low- Odor Coatings. Duration
GreenSmart designation, visit
service and commitment to
durability; the highest indoor
Home offers a low-VOC
providing the best value. ■
Harmony Interior Latex
products meet or exceed the stringent
Coatings offer a high-hide
criteria created by the U.S. Green Building
durable finish, plus zero VOC and low odor, allowing
Council. The GSA also awarded Sherwin-Williams
BLOOMING color Design tips for outdoor rooms
B y K I M PA L M E R
room doesn’t need four walls and a ceiling to need some professional help. As gardens and patios are increasingly being viewed as “outdoor rooms,” design professionals are playing a bigger role in choosing elements and creating color schemes. Outdoor color should be as carefully thought-out as indoor color, says Debra Prinzing, a master gardener and author of “The Abundant Garden: A Celebration of Color, Texture and Blooms” (Cold Springs Press, 2005). “Color is the easiest and least expensive way to make a garden pop,” she notes.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BARBARA DENK/GARDEN OF LINDA COCHRAN
Pick a palette. Then stick to it. “It takes some restraint,” Prinzing says. Choose a monochromatic, analogous or complementary color palette, just as you would indoors, then limit yourself to plants and other elements that fit that palette. Create a mood. A garden can create a feeling of serenity or one of excitement, depending on how color is used, Prinzing says. For a calming garden, choose flowers and other plants with similar hues, such as soft blues, periwinkles and lavenders. For a high-energy garden, combine high-contrast colors, such as hot pinks, bright oranges and sunny yellows. Light. The eye sees color in the garden differently depending on the quality of the natural light. In Seattle, where Prinzing lives,
the skies are often gray. Bright colors in the garden can offset that and work beautifully against a gray canvas. In the Southwest desert, the intense light can obliterate color, making shapes much more important because many plants appear as silhouettes. Designers can make the most of natural light by positioning garden structures, such as lattice, so the sun casts intriguing shadows. Focal points. A landscape needs them just as a room does, whether it’s a lake view, a specimen tree or a piece of sculpture. Color can create a focal point. One garden in Prinzing’s book featured a pair of Adirondack chairs, painted hot pink, as a beckoning destination. “You need something to draw the eye and lead people through the space.” Foliage. Leaves last longer than flowers, many of which bloom for only a few weeks. But with foliage plants available in deep purples, silvers and golds, you won’t miss the flowers. Also look for variegated (green-and-whiteleaved) plants. “Every popular plant is available in a variegated cultivar,” Prinzing notes. Exercise your green thumb. You don’t have to know a thing about horticulture to create a container garden, Prinzing says. Designers know how to use cut flowers to create an arrangement, and they can use that same expertise to create beautiful pots. Don’t worry about mixing sun and shade plants, or about spacing, she says. “Containers are so forgiving.” ■
S t i r 17
C O L O R
S P Y
Fashion force A white-hot designer marries vibrant color with celebrity glamour B y K I M PA L M E R
Color is a passion for Monique Lhuillier, declared “young Hollywood’s hottest designer”by Newsweek. She dressed Diane Lane in jade for this year’s Golden Globes, Christina Aguilera in pale blue for the Oscars and Teri Hatcher in pink for the TV Land Awards. But the Lhuillier dress that really caught the spotlight was Britney Spears’ white lace bridal gown. What does color mean to you?
Where do you find color inspiration?
People are afraid of color, but I believe in it. I’m glad people are embracing it more now, and that includes myself. I used to wear a lot of black. Now I wear much more color … yellow, jade green, teal blue and lots of white.
I travel a lot, and my trips inspire me. When I was in Paris, I picked up a gorgeous coffee-table book on the jewels of the Maharaja, and I was very taken with it … the dramatic colors and the beading. That inspired my fall line.
You’ve dressed a lot of famous women in colors that we don’t usually see them wearing. How do you encourage people to try a color that is outside their comfort zone?
What colors are we going to be seeing more of in fashion?
I like to bring in tons of gowns, so there’s an element of surprise, something fresh for the customer to experience. I want her to move out of the box. Whatever makes the person feel most alive is the color we go with.
What color mistakes do people commonly make?
For fall, we’ll be seeing a lot of amethysts, rusts, coppers and browns … also a beautiful olive green.
People should not follow color trends. Even if it’s a hot color, if it doesn’t look good on you, you shouldn’t wear it. Look for colors that highlight your skin tone. You could be starting your own trend.
Stay away from black if you want to stand out. The exception was Ziyi Zhang, who wore my black dress to the Oscars. But it had a lace bodice, over nude, so you saw the lace pattern. It didn’t read as a boring black dress.
If you could dress any celebrity in any color, who would it be? I would put Nicole Kidman in a beautiful tulle dress in cotton-candy pink. She has such gorgeous skin!
We’re starting to see more color in bridal fashion, and you’re one of the designers who has pushed the envelope. What inspired you in that direction? Starting my ready-to-wear line infused more
fashion into my bridal collection. I like bursts of color in the sash — like sable or amethyst. It really pulls a wedding together and makes it more special by personalizing the look.
Is the spectrum continuing to open up for bridal gowns, or is the pendulum swinging back to white and ivory? Color is still important for weddings, but not in the whole gown. The color is in the accents. For the gown, I don’t like pure white. I prefer silk whites and light ivories. I also am drawn to latté colors that are a little warmer.
What colors do you surround yourself with at home? I have light taupes on the walls, and a lot of pale powder blues and whites. Calming colors. My home is my sanctuary. I work with so many colors that I need a clean palette when I come home.
What’s a color risk you’ve taken recently?
What’s your favorite era in color?
I experimented with yellow in my spring ready-to-wear collection. I wasn’t sure how people would embrace it. If you have the right tan and the right attitude, it works. ■
The 1930s. I like the glamour and that vintage dusty-rose color.
For more information, visit www.moniquelhuillier.com.
PHOTOGRAPH ON THIS PAGE BY MICHAEL WESCHLER
Are there do’s and don’ts for wearing color on the red carpet?
â€œ Color is still important for weddings, but not in the whole gown. The color is in the accents.â€?
L I V I N G
C O L O R
W H O L E L O T T A L A T T E´
Latté (SW 6108) is one of the most popular Sherwin-Williams shade samples requested. And why not? It’s a warm neutral that complements just about any color scheme or decorating style, from traditional to modern. Check out these coordinating products. 1. Toasty
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F I N A L
Las Vegas never sleeps, and that’s true for its lights as well as its nightlife. The unmistakable Vegas
landscape — a kaleidoscope of neon glowing against a dark desert sky — is the result of millions of electrons passing through neon gas to stimulate its molecules, causing them to radiate light. One look at the famed strip and you’d think neon comes in every hue imaginable. But neon gas itself is only one color: red. The gas is combined with other elements inside individually colored glass tubing to create the many shades of neon seen on casinos, clubs and restaurants. Neon gas inside clear, colorless glass creates a red sign. Add a yellow glass tube, and you get orange. Mix in some helium and argon, and the gas appears blue. Neon sign-makers can use various combinations to produce more than 150 different colors. Good thing: A monochromatic Vegas wouldn’t be Vegas at all.
T O U C H
IF THE COLOR’S OUT THERE, WE CAN HELP YOU BRING IT IN. It’s time to explore color beyond the color chip. And Sherwin-Williams can help. With our fast, accurate exclusive Sher-Color™ computerized matching system, we can give you virtually any hue in the world. Whether you find it out in nature or hidden away in an office drawer. And with our online Color Visualizer and COLOR To Go™ paint sampling system, you can show your clients exactly what to expect for added color confidence. In other words, when you work with Sherwin-Williams, getting the perfect color really is a walk in the park. To learn more, see your Sherwin-Williams Architectural Account Executive or call our Architect & Designer Answerline at 1-800-321-8194. sherwin-williams.com ©2005 The Sherwin-Williams Company
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