Here’s the thing – there are no limits to the colour in this world. Fashion trends would have us believe that colours are ‘in’ and in a few months they’ll be ‘out’. Furniture decisions made on fashion trends will definitely loose their luster in time, but choosing your favourite colour, populist marketing be damned? That joy will never fade.
So before you claim you can’t have yellow furniture – take a moment to consider just how timeless and changeable my favourite colour truly is.
This month we’re talking Industrial Yellow
I’ve met one too many customers who’ve said ‘oh, I couldn’t have a yellow chair in my house’.
Ok, truthfully I’ve met exactly one customer who has said that, but it’s one too many. There are so many yellows on the spectrum between orange and lime that I just think that guy wasn’t really trying enough. From Sunshine, holiday, roadtrip yellow to squash, lemon, sherbert and butter cream, there’s a tint of yellow to suit your tastebuds. I mean eyeballs.
We’re zeroing in on my favourite tint, which I think of as ‘industrial yellow’, widely known as Chrome Yellow. Where other flavours can be soft and fuzzy, industrial yellow brings to mind the road markings and signage of the manmade world. It’s slathered onto Tolix Chairs and taquerias, garages and safety gear.
I’m constantly noticing how industrial yellow completes a landscape – urban or natural.
Whether it’s adding much needed contrast to an otherwise monochrome scene, or singing the highnotes of a colour symphony on highway163, if it wasn’t there you wouldn’t be smiling so much.
All these references might have you thinking that Industrial Yellow is a relatively modern convention. In reality, Chromium Yellow in the 1790s, and is named for the lead chromate (crocite) from which the pigment is derived. In the early 19th Century chromium rich deposits were discovered in France and the pigment became more widely available.
In 1815 Thomas Jefferson had the dining room of Monticello (his country house) painted in Chrome Yellow in line with the latest trends coming out of France and the UK. To this day Chromium Yellow is used for our road markings, as a pigment with exceptional lifespan.
Chrome and it’s dirty Mustard flatmate made an appearance in Mid 20th Century Style, providing a much loved contrast to other staples of the era. Chrome stayed home while his cooler, goody-two-shoes sister Primary Yellow strutted her stuff in the 80s, and it wasn’t until 2011 that he got over his sulking and came back to play in the mainstream with fashion’s blessing.
Regardless of my own opinion on ‘trends’, it is possible to peg broader trends as a pendulum swing reaction to a particular context in time. And so several years after rationing we see a trend for great indulgence. After developing new technology and materials for War Time we see a change in the way we design and manufacture objects. More recently, in the wake of a global financial crisis (GFC) we see a huge swell in ‘nesting’ related consumption, as consumers focus on creating spaces for homebody (low cost) activities and entertaining. We also see a return to the ‘make do and mend’ attitude of our grandparent’s era, this time manifesting in an upswing towards DIY projects and published content and a huge demand for the how-to workshop.
Some colour theorists will carry this notion on to the palette, and point to the GFC as a miserable, depressing time, which could be improved upon by the widespread implementation of a colour that induces happiness, thoughts of sunshine and summer. Yellow. If you think about it, we could say the same of yellow in a post WWII world. So maybe there’s something in colour trends. Maybe.
Chrome yellow finds a place in a number of interior decorating styles, from our MCM and industrial favourite to more geometric blocking and country (both refined and raw). beyond the style cues, the examples above showcase the huge role that texture plays in tuning the statement of any colour. The grittier it is, the more urban and structural it feels, while smooth flat walls sing more to the ideas of luxury an refined taste.
A few of my Industrial yellow dreams for this month also focus on texture.
The Mollie Hook – Available through the Schoolhouse Electric – The sellers state this to be “A faithful replica of a midcentury modern piece”, and we will talk about just how misleading these statements are designed to be at a later date. I’m happy to be corrected, but to me it looks like a rip off on the “Hang-it-All” by Eames, produced by Herman Miller to this day. If only the original were available in yellow only…
The most lush statement curtain – Via pinterest. Yep, that’s an epic cop out on acknowledgement, but the linkback no longer works and I’ve been through 4 blogs that each reference another. This room with it’s concealed curtain track, over-long drops and translucent glow, is now my happy place.
Double Whammy – A world Weary Tolix Chair, and graphic cement tiles by Popham. Produced in Morocco and hand painted, I dream of a bathroom tiled with such awesome, offbeat designs.
Lucienne Day Textiles – ‘Grafica’ in yellow, from a very talented designer in the 50s. While her designs are no longer in mass production, it’s great to know more about her designs and see how this sort of atomic-botany style informed a graphic design movement in the 50s.
Paola Lenti Outdoor Rugs – I’m a sucker for texture, and these industrial outdoor rugs are right up my alley, the final 3 images are of the same product, I just blew up that texture for you. Lenti uses industrial rope, laces and cord with unexpected traditional techniques, riffing on cross-stitch, latch-hook, tapestry and more. These make me as happy a yellow!