This month we’re going to dive straight in to the deep end and look at quite a popular palette of colour throughout the last century.
Teal is a colour that often pops up on people’s favourite list, often having a depth of tone and shade that tugs at something inside many of us – that spot just in front of the back bone, lower and deeper than your heart. It’s a colour we feel as much as we see. So it’s interesting that everyone has a different shade or tint in mind when we say the same word.
This is the very reason I love to be descriptive about colour. Your teal and my teal might be different, but our ‘peacock’ instantly puts us into that deep jewel toned nuanced spectrum between green and blue. If I go further and say ‘Peacock Blue’ we’ve cut that spectrum in half. We’re getting closer and closer to being on the same page of the colouring book. We’re looking at Peacock blue because it’s a nice little umbrella for me to look at Teal, Turquoise and Aqua. They all originate from the Cyan spectrum, but visually and viscerally they can have quite different effects, and each of those can be fine tuned by the colours and materials we surround them with.
For the sake of clarity, let’s take a quick look at some colour theory terminology.
Hue – A pure color (without tint or shade) – Red, orange, yellow, green, blue & violet.
Tint – Variations on Hue created through the addition of white, increasing lightness
Shade – Variations on Hue created through the addition of Black, reducing lightness
Tone – variations on Hue through tinting AND shading, or the addition of grey, reducing the saturation of a Hue
Cyan first scored a mention in 1879, and it’s existence allowed for the development of CMYK printing in the 1890s and continues to inform the publishing industry today. Cyan, along with magenta, yellow and Key (Black) still power our print media and home offices. They’re the ‘subtractive primaries’ in the colour hierarchy, which is a story for another day. Right now what is important is the ‘primary’ element of that category.
Cyan is the unadulterated punch-in-the-face hue that lacks any form of subtlety. Cyan and Aqua are the same thing. Think tropical holidays, the warm shallows of the Maldives. Turquoise is named for the mineral. It’s an envious form of cyan, a little greener, usually a shade or two darker than Aqua. Teal is the bottom of the cyan well. It’s deeper, darker, more mysterious and often more grown up. It has a refinement and a grace that it’s lighter cousins have yet to discover.
All three options have their moment in the sun on the plumage of a showy peacock. Peacocks are the embodiment of Hollywood Regency, in colour and showboating both. In the 30s we enjoyed peacock hues in velvet and cut glass, deep diamond tufting and opulent forms paired with anything sparkly. All chandeliers and cocktails.
In the 50s peacock calmed down a little, and made itself known in matte palettes like felt and wool, playing nicely with muted olive and mustard. It’s been in the Mexican palette since the dawn of time, paired with pink and red in joyous celebration across every decade and every style from rustic granja to contemporary Mexico city dining rooms. In 2014/15 we revived it in a more muted tone, and paired with copper for an industrial ode to Regency.
You can calm it down with warm, natural accents of chocolate, sand and stone. You can place it on acid (green) and really spin out the intensity of a space. Use it on floor to ceiling walls in a space to build a distinguished sanctuary, or add it to an otherwise monochrome palette for a touch of indulgence.
Whatever your style, there’s room for a little pop of Peacock Blue, I promise you!
A few Plucky peacocks from my wishlist
Photograph of Frida Kahlo – Get your fix of Mexican colour combos and strong women at the Art Gallery NSW until 9th of October. Thoroughly enjoyable, but remember to buy your tickets online in advance!
Enammelled Copper Wire by Palmer Metals– Almost nothing motivates my process quite like Colour. I stumbled on this gorgeous copper wire and am looking forward to designing something that necessitates an imminent shipment.
The Operator by Julien Pacaud – For some time I’ve dreamed of having a large collage of a certain style. This month’s Peacock hunt bought the work of Julien Pacaud to my attention. I’ve barely had time to scratch the surface of this internet-spiral-waiting-to-happen, but I fell in love with this piece for it’s atomic references and darker overtones.
Chocolate shot teal from Bev’s Remnant House – Bev is on Bourke St in Redfern, and she has a fabulous eye for things I will love. Case in point, I visited her with a client last week for something else entirely, and here is 20 metres of the exact colour combo I’ve been dreaming of this month – chocolate and teal. Stop by 10-5pm 7 days/week!
Blue Lady Cushion by Tretchikoff via Emily Ziz Studio – An image that used to grace Masonite boards hung in every aussie loungeroom, we were obsessed with the exotic colour and tone of this print. Now you can squish your very own licenced artwork!
Sgraffito by Harlequin – I work with a lot of mid-century Modern and Scandinavian stye furniture for clients, and I am constantly on the lookout for the fabrics that will truly make them into something unique. The best fabrics have a chunky texture, a slub or a boucle or a cut velvet and a speckle of colour variation, so imagine my enthusiasm for Speckle and Cestino (bottom left, and second left respectively). They’re an investment you won’t regret, and I have samples in store to show you!