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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 V o l u m e 6 • I s s u e 1 • 2 0 0 9

s t i r


Classical Color New research reveals the surprising spectrum of Ancient Greece.

Amy Wells, set decorator for TV’s Mad Men


Real-Life vs. On-Screen Color

The Sherwin-Williams Company

STIR Advisory Board

Director, Trade Communications: Tresa Makowski Director of Color Marketing: Jackie Jordan

Glen Boudreaux, ASID, RID, IDEC Glen Boudreaux & Associates Dallas, Texas

Hanley Wood Marketing Executive Editor: Bryan Iwamoto Editorial Director: Dobby Gibson Editor: Kim Palmer Executive Art Director: Sandy Girard Senior Designer: Cate Hubbard Senior Editor: Mara Hess Production Director: Pam Mundstock Production Artist: Karen Wolcenski Project Manager: Courtney Miner Client Services: Lynda Whittle

Laura Culver Laura’s Loft Studio Interiors/Colour Connextions Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Kathy Davis, CID, IACC/NA Kathy Davis Associates, Inc. Solana Beach, Calif. Jill Lambert Lavallee Brensinger Architects Manchester, N.H. Michael Scott, IDS, Allied ASID Robb & Stucky Interiors Scottsdale, Ariz. Zara Stender, CID, IDS, Allied ASID, CMG ZaraDesigns Las Vegas, Nev. Abby Suckle, FAIA, LEED Abby Suckle Architects New York, N.Y.

STIR® magazine (ISSN 1937-2027) 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: Click on Contact Us at Printed in the United States, © 2009 Sherwin-Williams, Vol. 6. Issue 1, 2009

The Past as Primer


hat should I do to protect this color?” is a question you likely hear frequently from your clients. For them, the right answer might be to move the couch away from the window, or maybe to use a durable, burnishresistant paint in the children’s room. For us, as design professionals, the answer is always the same: Keep records and samples! Just as memory, over time, mutes remembered sounds and numbs old sensations, so too does it dull our ability to remember color. Even an experienced design professional can find it hard to remember the exact temperature of a color used in a project — especially what that color really felt like. With each day that goes by, our color memories get a little less exact. (What did design professionals do before digital cameras and online color tools?) In this issue of STIR, we revisit the colors of two eras: one from long ago (ancient Greece) and one from not so long ago (1960s Madison Avenue). In the process, we re-saturate palettes that have faded in our collective consciousness — in the case of Greece, faded completely to white! These stories remind us that the past can renew our creativity. Far more than being a source of kitsch or rigid traditionalism, historical color can be a source of something much more elemental: surprise — the deepest wellspring of inspiration.

Order Sherwin-Williams color samples online at


For product or compliance questions, call the Architect and Designer Answerline at (800) 321-8194.

Jackie Jordan

For local service and advice, please see your Sherwin-Williams Architectural Account Executive or your local store.

The trademarks and copyrights of Sherwin-Williams appearing in STIR are protected. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Director of Color Marketing The Sherwin-Williams Company

c o n t e n t s

S h e r w i n - W i l l i a m s®

s t i r


Volume 6 • Issue 1 • 2009





on the cover





New formulations in automotive coatings are inspiring designers in other industries to try new finishes.

Forget monochromatic mythology. New research reveals the surprising spectrum of ancient Greece.

Follow Amy Wells, set decorator of the hit show Mad Men, on her quest for Kennedy-era color.





A Bloomington, Ind., development has put a colorful spin on New Urbanism.

How color helped to transform a Michigan office building into a green learning environment.




SEEN VS. SCREEN Why is it so challenging to match real-life color to what you see on your computer screen?




GREEN CHIC America’s first LEED Platinum hotel is eight floors of uncompromised luxury.

The practical and spiritual story behind eye makeup.


15 Sherwin-Williams

Stir 1

palette Color news and solutions from Sherwin-Williams

RACY COLOR The interstate is probably the last place a design professional would visit for color ideas, but recent developments in automotive coatings might give you reason to look to your commute for inspiration, not just aggravation. The growing collectible car market, in particular, is spurring the development of new additives and finishes that create previously impossible luster and depth. The Planet Color® Custom Paint system from Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, which has colored everything from Robby Gordon’s NASCAR stock car to your neighbor’s restored ’57 Chevy, uses the latest high-quality effect pigments and candy-dye concentrates to create finishes so spectacular that commercial, residential and industrial designers are occasionally using them for non-automotive purposes.

“We just got a call from a company that wants to manufacture laptops with an automotive paint coating,” says David Sewell, vice president of marketing for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. Sewell says that automotive paint’s clear coat, which provides scratch resistance, is loved by designers of all stripes for its unique depth and gloss. Sewell says the relationship between automotive color trends and interior design color trends is a symbiotic one, with each influencing the other. (Think of the degree to which the automobile has changed the significance of red, to take the most obvious example.) In the future, Sewell says, “chameleon colors,” technology currently under development, are likely to greatly influence color and design. “I call [this paint technology] ‘metamorisms,’” he says. “It can change colors by the way you look at the car. Or you can actually change the color of the car based on the temperature.” This technology isn’t market-ready yet, but don’t take your eye off the road — it’s just around the next curve.


learn more

Find out what colors to expect on 2010 car models at




The most Powerful Interior Paint — now improved Thanks to new formulation enhancements, Sherwin-Williams Duration Home® is an even stronger-performing interior paint. Duration Home has long been trusted by design professionals for the performance benefits of its patented cross-linking technology — such as its resistance to burnishing and staining — as well as its ability to meet or exceed the most stringent environmental standards. Duration Home now offers the ability to create even brighter colors, as well as a smoother, more uniform appearance and better washability. In fact, independent ASTM lab tests prove that Duration Home outperforms the competition in both washability and finish retention. Duration Home now comes in sustainable packaging made with 100 percent recycled post-consumer resin. And it continues to meet Sherwin-Williams GreenSure® criteria thanks to its extremely low-VOC (volatile organic compounds), low-odor formulation.

Coordinating Fabrics Just Got Easier A new collaboration between Sherwin-Williams and The Robert Allen Group, a designer and marketer of fabrics and furnishings, makes it easier for you to coordinate fabrics and wall colors for your clients. Beginning in March 2009, suggested palettes of complementary Sherwin-Williams colors will be included in Robert Allen Color Library upholstery and multipurpose fabric collection books. The suggested palettes will come in the form of easy-to-use color cards. As part of the partnership, Sherwin-Williams also plans to co-host color-related events in Robert Allen|Beacon Hill showrooms around the country, as well as provide Sherwin-Williams color cards and color libraries in those locations. And an expanded Sherwin-Williams color resource library is planned for launch this spring in the New York Robert Allen|Beacon Hill showroom located in the D&D Building. For more information, visit a Robert Allen|Beacon Hill showroom or simply visit or

STIR Is wherever You Are You can receive additional color news by signing up for Sherwin-Williams® STIR® eExtra, an e-newsletter delivered six times a year. STIR eExtra delivers color research, paint technology and design trends you won’t want to miss. To subscribe, complete and mail the business reply card in this magazine. Or visit the STIR magazine Web site,, which also keeps color news and resources at your fingertips.


Stir 3



Indiana’s South Dunn Street puts a colorful new spin on planned communities.


here’s a new neighborhood in the college town of Bloomington, Ind., whose bright colors are not only turning heads, they’re providing house-hunters with a “third way” between new construction on the outskirts of town or older city homes that need costly renovations. The neighborhood is called South Dunn Street, and its new construction, clad in crayon-bright hues, offers what developer Matt Press calls the alternative to beige, vinyl-clad suburbia. “So much of my development is about emotion,” Press says, and color plays a major role. “You’re creating an environment where people feel happier, stimulated and more alive.” South Dunn Street is grounded in the principles of New Urbanism, which combines traditional neighborhood layouts with modern amenities, yards, garages and porches, all within walking distance to town, shops, parks and schools. Early in the planning stages, Press came across images of Scandinavia’s vibrant, multicolored homes, which are instantly uplifting, especially




during the gray days of winter. Inspired, Press went to his project’s architects and told them he wanted to make a strong color statement. Ernesto Castañeda, an architect at Kirkwood Design Studio, loved the concept and came up with a mood board of Sherwin-Williams color-combination ideas, such as Scanda (SW 6529) with Colonial Yellow (SW 0030) trim. “We always thought it should be a cheerful place, not a dreary, all-the-same-tan condition,” Castañeda says. Although the architects offer suggestions, there are no color restrictions. Each homeowner gets to choose two colors: one for the body of the house and another for the trim. Just when the project crew thought they were going to be disappointed — a house had been painted white, of all shades — the homeowner picked Robust Orange (SW 6628) for the trim. As Press says, “Nobody with a beige mentality will buy into this project.” When Kathryn Roszko moved to South Dunn Street with her husband and their two sons, she chose a colorful cottage look of purple

(Mesmerize, SW 6544) with light green trim (Ryegrass, SW 6423) and a bright yellow porch and picket fence (Colonial Yellow). “We didn’t want to be boring,” Roszko says, adding that she loved living in South Dunn during her family’s brief detour from Massachusetts. Their home’s distinctive hue gave it a strong identity. “We were ‘the purple house’ — that was our address.” Real estate agent Brian Lappin often sees smiles on clients’ faces when he drives them through South Dunn Street, which he feels is a breath of fresh air compared to typical cookie-cutter suburban neighborhoods. “A lot of people want to live closer to town, in an interesting house,” Lappin says. He appreciates that South Dunn Street offers something new, that’s well-engineered, fairly green and fun. “It’s entertaining,” Lappin says. “People are jazzed by it; there’s a buzz.” n Boston-based Jennifer Blaise Kramer has written for the Boston Globe and Boston Magazine.

Photographs by Susan Fleck

b y J enni f er B laise K ramer

Dunn Street palette: Body: Reserved White (SW 7056), Trim: Robust Orange (SW 6628)

Body: Red Bay (SW 6321), Trim: Renwick Beige (SW 2805)

Body: Studio Blue Green (SW 0047), Trim: Honey Blush (SW 6660)

Lower body: Tassel (SW 6369), Upper body and railings: Papaya (SW 6661), Trim: Kirsch Red (SW 6313)

Body: Dill (SW 6438), Trim: Honey Blush (SW 6660)


Body: Mesmerize (SW 6544), Trim: Ryegrass (SW 6423), Porch: Colonial Yellow (SW 0030)

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Learn more about New Urbanism and the role color plays at Sherwin-Williams

Stir 5


COLOR The real palette of ancient Greece defies monochromatic mythology.

by Charlotte Stoudt

From the stately Acropolis in Athens to a 21st-century reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, nothing evokes ancient Greece more than white marble. The ideal of Western art, in its highest form, as being austere and color-free has been around since the Renaissance. When explorers unearthed ancient Mediterranean statuary, time and moisture had stripped the marble of its original paint, leaving the stone translucent, almost otherworldly. In its apparent aesthetic restraint, white marble seemed to embody the “pure” ideals of classical Greece: democracy, moderation, rational philosophical inquiry.




Camouflage wasn’t an option for this stylish Trojan archer, one of many reconstructed Greek marble artifacts in the “Gods in Color” traveling exhibit.

Image Courtesy of Dr. Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann Permission from Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek München


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ut new research is challenging this centuries-old assumption. “We have a vision of Greece as antiseptic; that people moved around in pristine white garments,” says Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, a lecturer in classics at the University of Edinburgh. “But Greece was a riot of color.” Nowhere is this historical reality check more vivid than “Gods in Color,” a traveling exhibit that has stunned museum-goers and scholars around the world with its reconstructions of what newly painted marble might have looked like circa 500 B.C. Its curator, German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann, has spent more than 25 years recovering the ancients’ vibrant hues and patterns by means of ultraviolet light and other techniques. Brinkmann applied pigments to replicas of sculptures and architectural elements — then stood them next to the originals. The result has surprised even the experts. “Scholars have long known about the colors of ancient sculpture,” says Susanne Ebbinghaus, curator of ancient art at Harvard’s Sackler Museum. “But there’s a big difference between knowing it was painted and seeing it painted.” Take the Peplos Kore, a graceful statue from 530 B.C., long thought to represent a high-born maiden. Brinkmann’s painstaking research revealed that elaborately colored images of lions, ibexes and sphinxes had once decorated the statue’s tube-shaped outer skirt. This style of sheath, originally worn by Eastern rulers, was borrowed by the Greeks to depict their female deities. Color solved the mystery of the statue’s identity: She’s the goddess Artemis, not just a rich Athenian teenager. Brinkmann’s work shows how the ancients responded to the limitations of technology and environment with a surprisingly rich sense of polychromy (the use of multiple colors). In some ways,

Color Symbolism in Ancient Greece the threshold of becoming men wore red cloaks. Brides wore red veils. Death shrouds were red. Black: Worn for mourning, but also to draw attention to the mourner’s social status. “True blacks were hard to achieve,” says Llewellyn-Jones. “You often see the term ‘thrice-dyed’ to describe deep black.” Purple: Indicated royalty or high rank, due to the rarity of purple dye. Alexander the Great was fond of wearing purple from head to toe. White: As much a state of being as a color; the ancients used the word to designate youthful or feminine, pale skin.




Image Courtesy of Dr. Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

Red: A transitional color, indicating a change in life status. Boys on

“We have a vision of Greece as antiseptic; that people moved around in pristine white garments. But Greece was a riot of color.”

Image Courtesy of Dr. Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann; Permission from Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek München

— Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, University of Edinburgh

the infinite palette available in the modern world has diminished our appreciation for just how meaningful color can be. “Given the past insistence on imagining Greece in black and white, color has great potential to individualize ancient clothing and culture — to help us see it as human, rather than humanist,” says Liza Cleland, author of The Clothed Body in the Ancient World.

The early spectrum “The first thing to remember is that the Greeks had no real fixatives,” says Llewellyn-Jones. “There were no products that could keep a color stable.” The technical challenges of dyeing clothes gave the Greeks a fascination with color change (both natural and man-made) and a conception of color very different from ours. “Greek language used color in a fluid way,” he explains. “What might be classified as ‘red’ could be anything from a light pink to almost purple. ‘Green’ encompassed shades of gray, blue and bottle green.” Achieving (and maintaining) vivid color in ancient Greece demanded expert skill, notes Cleland, so wearing intense hues usually meant you had the money to pay for them. The costliest color was known as Tyrian purple, a rare dye harvested from snails found off the coast of Phoenicia. When applied to textiles, the clear fluid turned fabric permanently purple. The color quickly became a favorite of royalty. (Pliny the Elder deemed that the ideal shade of purple should resemble “clotted blood.”)

Color in daily life Duller, “mixed” colors were more common for everyday use. The average Athenian wore unbleached garments or used saffron to give robes a warm yellow tint; colorful patterns often were woven in at the hem. As a culture, Greece “placed high value on complexity, both intellectual and visual,” says Cleland, so interaction between colors, as well as the use of pattern, was a way to flaunt style — and a sense of the sacred. Detailed temple records show that women about to be married would dedicate favorite garments to Artemis for good luck. Llewellyn-Jones is struck by how color-specific the items are: “‘A mantle, blue, with a purple border. A small summer dress, yellow, with red dots. A cloak, frog green.’” The Greeks also prized color in living spaces. In her pioneering work on domestic spaces, Ruth Westgate, a lecturer in ancient history and archaeology at Britain’s Cardiff University, notes that the Greeks used dark blue and green pigments for paintings and mosaics in the “best rooms” that visitors would see.

The intricate patterns and interaction of colors on a grave memorial reflect the high value Greeks gave to visual complexity.


Stir 9

Art and culture

Recreations of the Peplos Kore (530 B.C.) reveal our changing view of color use in Ancient Greece.

“This wasn’t like seeing Michelangelo’s David in a museum,” says Lapatin. “You’d enter into a dark sanctuary. There was music, incense burning. In the half-light, the gold would reflect off surfaces. If you normally lived in a simple, slightly dirty place, this kind of experience would be an epiphany. The artist even played games with proportion. Zeus was too big—if the statue stood up, it would break through the roof. But that was, of course, intentional. Is there an equivalent today? Maybe the latest Star Wars. But even that experience is virtual.” Color represents what has been missing in our portrait of ancient Greece: a complex civilization with a deep appreciation of sensual beauty and festival. “In some ways we made the Greeks better than they were, but also less exciting,” says Ebbinghaus. “I’m reminded of my parents’ resistance to switching to color television. ‘You can imagine so much more in black and white,’ they’d say. The more fragmentary something is, the bigger the surface it offers for projection.” Lapatin agrees: “Classical art still carries such a charge. If we’re going to successfully interrogate our own culture’s values, it’s important to examine their underpinnings.” n Charlotte Stoudt writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times.


l earn more

To learn more about how color was key in uncovering the story of the Peplos Kore, go to

The ‘Reel’ Greece?


Hollywood has often turned to the ancient world for inspiration,

“We had her in the appropriate clothes, loose linens fastened with

with varying results. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, who served as a

pins and brooches. She deemed them too frumpy and had costume

consultant to Oliver Stone’s Alexander, admired the film’s

designer Jenny Beavan create something with more, shall we say,

commitment to historical accuracy — with one exception: the

Christian Dior tailoring.” He laughs. “History or no history, a star still

costumes worn by Angelina Jolie, who played Alexander’s mother.

has the power to dictate her look.”



Image Courtesy of Dr. Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

The Greeks were highly sensitive to the role of light in color. “Plato talked about vision and color as ‘fire entering the eyes,’” says Cleland. “It’s important to remember that the bright sunlight of the Mediterranean climate gives a high level of tonal contrast.” Artists used strong tones to ensure maximum visual impact. “Co l o r i n a rc h i t e c t u re enhanced simple visibility, and picked out sculptural details that might have otherwise been lost to distance,” she says. The wildly decorated frieze of the Siphnian Treasury in Delphi, for example, would have been high on the building, so its strongly contrasting colors helped viewers at ground level see all the details. No less an authority than Leonardo da Vinci declared that sculptors shouldn’t concern themselves with color. But ancient sculptures were designed to captivate, to create an occasion. “In ancient villas people would stroll around and stop at a statue of a philosopher or mythic hero and use the artwork as a jumping-off point for a debate or discussion,” explains Kenneth Lapatin, associate curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. That experience was intensified in religious spaces. Lapatin cites the impact of the ivory and gold statue of Zeus in the temple at Olympus, known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Remnants of the Palace of Knossos on Crete have been restored to reflect the ancient Minoans’ love of color. Vivid frescoes depicting scenes from society dominated many walls in the 1,300-room complex built between 1700 and 1400 B.C.


S t i r 11

d e p a r t m e n t


Saturated colors found in nature swirl around the Egg, St. Patrick School’s circular media center.

Classy Renovation

Rich, vibrant color was part of the equation that transformed a Michigan office building into a green learning environment.


hen the parish of St. Patrick Church in Brighton, Mich., decided to expand its school, church members explored the usual options first: adding on to the existing building or purchasing land upon which a new structure could be erected. But in the end, the church made a bold and unusual choice: They bought a 36,000-square-foot former General Motors office building and renovated it to create the only kindergarten-through-eighth-grade green private Catholic school in the nation. “It was the project of a career,” says designer Lisa Whalls, vice president of Facility Matrix group and the parent of a student who attends St. Patrick School. “We were creating a learning environment that was a complete paradigm shift for a private-school education. All the light that’s filtering into the school and the choice of colors are so nontraditional. And the fact that we were not only renovating a former




office building, but doing so in a green way — we knew we were doing something spectacular.” The school’s green features include a high-efficiency HVAC system estimated to reduce long-term energy use by 30 percent (in part through sensors that detect when a classroom is empty and move the room to “unoccupied” mode), GreenGuard-certified carpeting and furniture, water-efficient plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals, and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) Sherwin-Williams paints. “The biggest green aspect was buying an already existing building in the city, which saved utilities having to be brought out outside the city, and cuts down on gasoline for parents driving out,” says David Richardson, project architect and a partner at Lindhout Associates in Brighton, who became the first architect in Livingston County accredited by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). (Richardson

Photographs by Ron Wallis

by Laura Wexler

“Most of the time  the kids are in school, it’s fall or winter, so we wanted the school to look good in those seasons.”

is awaiting LEED certification for the St. Patrick project.) The renovation involved three additions to the portion of the serpentine, steel-framed office building that would house the elementary school: a circular media center, dubbed “The Egg,” at the center of the elementary-school wing; a 13,400-square-foot gym/cafeteria at the south end; and a 6,500-square-foot science and art wing extending west. At the same time, Whalls began the process of transforming the “drab” interior of the mid-1980s office building into an inspiring learning environment. “In our industry, we say, ‘Space is the message,’” she says. “We wanted our message to be creativity, innovation, high standards, and we knew that we wanted to use color to inspire people.” Instead of a primary-color palette, which is often used in schools, she opted for rich, saturated but nontraditional hues. The elementary wing, including the art and music rooms, is painted with rich purples, Plummy (SW 6558) and Distance (SW 6243); gold, Harvester (SW 6373); and several pale blues, Hinting Blue (SW 6519) and Lady’s Slipper (SW 7139). Silvery blue-gray Icicle (SW 6238) is used in the corridors that run through the entire school, tying together the brighter palette of the elementary wing with the junior high wing, where Windy Blue (SW 6240), a sophisticated light blue, was used for all of the classrooms. “The colors are very organic and really play into the whole green initiative,” says Whalls. “They’re colors you’d find in nature — gold, purple, blue. These colors are also very applicable to Michigan. Most of the time the kids are in school, it’s fall or winter, so we wanted the school to look good in those seasons.”

3 Tips for Color in Learning Environments • Saturated colors: Choose rich, saturated colors to inspire children’s creativity. • Bright colors: In classrooms with windows, use bright colors to anchor young students’ attention inside. • Color to organize: Employ color to delineate and divide space in one school that serves a wide range of ages.


S t i r 13

For the school’s most distinctive space — the Egg — Whalls and school principal Lorelei Darga chose Arresting Auburn (SW 6034), a burnt burgundy color, and Mannered Gold (SW 6130), a deep yellow. “They’re rich, soothing colors that blend well with the cherry Herman Miller Bretford furniture,” Whalls said. “We wanted it to be a calming palette, almost like you were at home.” Sherwin-Williams waterborne, washable coatings were used throughout. “We chose Sherwin-Williams for the low-VOC paint, for the scrubbable latex — and for the quality,” Whalls said. “The philosophy of the school is ‘mind, body, spirit,’” she added. “We really did design a school that supports that motto.” n Laura Wexler is a Baltimore-based author and senior editor of Style magazine.

“We wanted our message to be creativity, innovation, high standards, and  we knew that  we wanted to  use color to inspire people.”

A lush autumn landscape flows with the school’s calming color palette and Herman Miller Bretford furniture.




G o i n g


G r e e n


America’s first LEED Platinum hotel is eight floors of uncompromised luxury.

b y K itt y S hea


eing responsible carries with it mental baggage, and Louis Vuitton it’s not. Hard-wired into our belief system is the notion that, if something’s good for us or for the environment, we’ll sacrifice comfort, style or convenience. Not surprisingly, boutique hoteliers have largely limited their green initiatives to elective daily laundering of linens. But the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C., puts an elegant end to the perception that going green detracts from the guest experience. Proximity and its Print Works Bistro are the nation’s first hotel and restaurant to earn top certification — Platinum — from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). “When we started the design process four years ago, I never would have believed that we could use 39 percent less energy and 33 percent less water without one iota of compromise in comfort or luxury and with minimal additional construction costs,” says Dennis Quaintance, chief executive officer and chief design officer of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and

Hotels, Proximity’s parent company. “It’s not easy, but it’s not hard.” The hotel is new construction but with an adaptive-reuse aesthetic that echoes a 1930s textile mill. One hundred solar panels, covering 4,000 square feet of rooftop, are used to heat shower and dishwasher water. Water conservation, too, is paramount. Low-flow showerheads, toilets and faucet spigots put the hotel on track to use 2 million fewer gallons of water its first year, a $13,000 savings that exceeds its additional $7,000 in construction costs. “We all took home showerheads to test during construction,” says Angie Kenny, Quaintance-Weaver director of design and special projects. “We didn’t want guests saying, ‘The hotel’s saving lots of water, but this shower really stinks.’” Insulating guests from any glimmer of deprivation was one challenge; visually warming up eight floors of pre-cast concrete, metal frames and plasterboard, using low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and stains, was another.


S t i r 15

The Proximity Palette Otter (SW 6041) Sable (SW 6083) Natural Choice (SW 7011) (all other colors were custom-mixed)




“We wanted to soften up the architectural bones of the building,” says Kenny. “It’s a concrete skin on the outside, while the inside has exposed concrete, pipes in the ceilings of the corridors — a very industrial feel. Designers love the look of raw, exposed concrete, but to most people it appears cold, like a driveway or outdoor landscape wall.” Finishing the concrete in a rusty tobacco color with an aged patina set the tone for a 15-color palette, created by designer Bradshaw Ornell, characterized by deep browns, taupes, blacks, bronzes and mossy greens, the majority custom-mixed using Sherwin-Williams Harmony® no-VOC interior latex or Sherwin-Williams waterborne acrylic industrial coating Bond-Plex® for metal surfaces. The hotel’s abundant natural light offered little forgiveness for finishes. Guest-room windows measure 7 feet 4 inches square, and 97 percent of the hotel’s regularly occupied spaces boast direct sight lines to the outdoors — a luxurious visual reminder that doing the right thing can be baggage-free. n Kitty Shea is a Minnesota-based freelance writer who covers interior design.

Stylish Sourcing The Proximity Hotel’s eco-friendly

• The 25-foot bar in the hotel’s

intentions are understated,

Print Works Bistro is constructed

with elements that resonate

of salvaged, solid walnut trees

first as architectural and artistic

felled by storm or sickness.

statements in their own right:

• Artwork includes 500 original

• Guest-room shelving units,

charcoal-on-canvas pieces

significant to the rooms’

(in lobby and guestrooms)

architecture, are walnut veneer

by local artist Chip Holton.

over a substrate of SkyBlend,

Art acquisition involved no

a particleboard made from

packaging or shipping since

100 percent post-industrial

Holton’s studio was a half-mile

recycled wood pulp with no

from the hotel. Ninety percent

added formaldehyde.

of the furniture was also sourced locally.

Guests enjoy direct outdoor sightlines in nearly 100 percent of the hotel’s occupied areas.


S t i r 17

C 0 l o r

s p y

’ d a m ‘ORLD W y r Am o t a r deco Mad Men t e s How ives TV’s e. g 0s vib s 6 l ’ l e e W th k-toc a b u dt its Sto harl by C

o tte

Critics and audiences alike have fallen for this seductive time machine, which meticulously re-creates JFK-era Madison Avenue. Emmy-nominated set decorator Amy Wells has worked on a dizzying variety of scripted worlds, including Last of the Mohicans, There Will Be Blood and Sex and the City. Raised just north of New York City, Wells went to film school thinking she’d be a producer, but when set decorator Gretchen Rau invited Wells to work on Come See the Paradise, something clicked. Wells had found her calling.

STIR: What part of the show’s look are you responsible for? AW: Set decorators choose and place all of the décor on the set — furniture, books, art, rugs, mess, etc. We work as a team, with the art department, the producer and director. First we read the script and talk to the writer. Then we start to interpret the characters through their surroundings. The production designer chooses the overall colors, and then I make the set come to life. The easy sets to do are locations like a men’s club or a restaurant. Domestic spaces are the challenge. Each character’s world is so personal. It gets very specific. What kind of chair do they sit in? How messy are they? How much do they cook? STIR: How do you use color to achieve the feeling of the period? AW: Last season was set in 1962, so that meant most of the décor was from the late ’50s and early ’60s. For my research, I use everything: Sears catalogs, decorating books with paint and carpet samples. Everything was incredibly different then. They did really off stuff, like weird browns with oranges and then some blue thrown in. STIR: What colors do you associate with the lead characters? AW: I start by asking questions: Who are Don and Betty Draper? What kind of taste do they have? Do they have enough money to buy the things they want? In the Draper bedroom, the wall color is oatmeal yellow. Then I added a vibrant blue period headboard for contrast. There are no primary colors; we’re not in that era yet. When I think of Don, I think of graphics and the color of his office — deeper blues, black. With Betty, I think of pastels. STIR: Is most of the furniture built to order, or actual antiques? AW: I shop constantly. A lot of my ideas come from original pieces. I know all the dealers, from Palm Springs to Fullerton. And some of the studios have fabric left over from those decades that they’ll let you buy. It’s so evocative. With furniture, I try to find something with its original fabric cover. That carries you a long way. STIR: Has Mad Men influenced your palette at home? AW: I live in South Pasadena, where we have a little 1927 cottage with mission tile. It’s quaint. Mad Men colors wouldn’t work in there. My home colors are all muted: French gray, Palladian blue. They’re subtle and beautiful. I’m a gal who’s been living in the past for a while. I barely look at contemporary stuff. A lot of it is so … imitative. STIR: Why do you think Mad Men has struck a chord? AW: I think people respond to the show because they’re starved for interesting characters. And the storytelling is so beautifully rendered. Everyone on the crew looks forward to reading the scripts. We’re all so involved in the characters. It’s great to work on a TV show I actually want to watch! What’s important to me is not to go for the iconic, the “designed.” Because I lived through the Mad Men era, I saw a lot of midcentury houses. Part of me recorded every house I ever visited. All that lives inside my brain. So I try to have the design be as real as possible. People respond to that realness. It’s not a cartoon. n Charlotte Stoudt writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times.




Betty Draper’s character is interpreted through her taste in surroundings and period colors, says Emmy-nominated set director Amy Wells. “With Betty, I think of pastels.”


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Seen vs. screen Why is it so challenging to match computer colors to their real-life counterparts? The task defies mastery, but understanding the reasons can help design professionals adjust.


elying on technology to specify colors is like holding a paint chip to the sky to match its blue: Precision is just out of reach, and always will be. That doesn’t mean you can’t come close. Online tools that “paint” spaces can give clients a jumping-off point, as well as a confidence-inspiring shot of, “Oh, so that’s how this color will look in my room.” Color exactitude, however, is still very much a paint-on-site, in-theright-light exercise. “I don’t know that we’re ever going to be in a place where online color matches off-line,” says Lynn Longbrake, associate director of creative at Resource Interactive, a Columbus, Ohio-based digital marketing agency. They’re too physically different. Virtual color is communicated by light beaming directly into our eyes. Real-world color is reflected, or light shining on a physical object reflecting into our eyes. “These worlds,” says Longbrake, “will never be synonymous.”

Point & Paint You can help your clients gain inspiration and peace of mind by dragging and dropping 1,500-plus colors from the Sherwin-Williams palette onto a variety of interior spaces and exterior facades, via the enhanced Sherwin-Williams Color Visualizer. Actual design concepts can also be “painted” by downloading colors into AutoCAD® and Photoshop®. It’s easy to search the Color Visualizer by color family, collection, specific name or number. Visit paint_colors/paint_color_samples/.

Nonetheless, the quest to come ever closer continues on the part of manufacturers, as well as designers. Software such as Adobe Photoshop® builds in its own color profile. Design professionals debate how to calibrate individual monitors to their most center points so colors don’t skew. (“Monitors aren’t typically set for the best color calibration, but for text readability: for crispness of type and for contrast,” Longbrake says. “They tend to have a bluish tone to them.”) Designers who are serious about color must continually recalibrate their monitors to correct for shifting variables, says Peter Gerstmann, application architect at Resource Interactive. “Your monitor’s getting older, it’s been on X amount of time, the light of day is changing …” But a recalibrated monitor does not ensure perfection: The computers to which you’re transmitting images are far from universal, thanks to their different manufacturers, operating systems, software, versions, desktop positions and surrounding glare. “Computer monitors are like snowflakes: No one is like the other,” says Longbrake. The difference between screen and printed colors can be even more variable. On the printed page, tiny dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) pigments render the optical illusion of different colors. On the screen, the “same” color is composed of red, green and blue (RGB), the primary colors of light. Getting them to match is like trying to cook the same dish with different ingredients. Clearly, the sky is not the limit when it comes to achieving color consistency between media. Make the adjustments you can, while accepting that you can’t change the underlying technology, says Gerstmann. “Sometimes it’s enough to get it good enough.” n Kitty Shea is a Minnesota-based freelance writer who specializes in interior design.




Illustration by Jim Frazier

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The Eyes Have It The extreme “cat eye” makeup style favored by Brigitte Bardot, the Ronettes and, more recently, singer Amy Winehouse is a look that goes back all the way to ancient Egypt. To the Egyptians, eye makeup was much more than decorative; it was also medicinal and spiritual. Both men and women outlined their eyes to create an elongated almond shape, using green ore of copper or dark gray lead ore. The liner helped protect eyes from intense desert sun, but it was also believed to ward off evil spirits. Palettes and applicators have been found in many early tombs, indicating that makeup was considered essential even in the afterlife — and providing clues to the economic status of the deceased. Poor Egyptians applied their makeup with sticks, while the wealthy had ivory compacts embellished with jewels.


The painted limestone bust of ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti (1370–1330 B.C.) is housed in Berlin’s Altes Museum. Known for her beauty and long, swan-like neck, Nefertiti’s name means “the perfect one has arrived.”

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To learn more about the history of makeup in Ancient Egypt, go to the Resources section of


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