Here’s the thing – there are no limits to the colour in this world. Fashion trends would have us believe that colours are ‘in’ or ‘out’ – last year, not green. This year? Not green either.
Oh, Wait. What’s wrong with Green? NOTHING. (edit 2017; told you so!)
So before you let someone who doesn’t even know you make your style statements, before you choose boring over brilliant, take a moment to consider just how timeless and changeable your (ok my) favourite colour truly is.
This month we look at a very special shade of green – Wasabi
Green is a funny colour. We talk about being green with envy or green with immaturity or nausea, all difficult experiences and emotions. It has been an uncommon choice in the mass furniture market in large part due to a misconception that it’s a difficult colour to pair. All it really takes is the right shade to make it happen.
We tend to discuss it in terms of foliage and food even more than usual, perhaps a nod to its natural origins. Much foliage gives a yellow colour which can become olive when ‘set’ with iron as a mordant. Stronger greens were achieved by over-dying those yellows with woad, a leafy plant which produces a strong blue.
At its least subtle (and most difficult to manufacture) we have forest & kelly green, what I think of as the unapologetic greens. There’s no mistaking either of these for anything other than green. Although a tertiary colour, these shades are neither more yellow nor bluer. Broadening the spectrum we find olives, citrus, fern, avocado, pistachio & pea.
I myself have a love affair with Chartreuse, so named for the French liqueur whose colour it resembles. Or so I thought. After about 30 seconds of digging, it turns out that true, official chartreuse is actually closest to the citric neon of a council worker’s vest. The colour I was dreaming of was earthier, more nuanced, certainly less eye-bleed inducing.
And so we arrive at Wasabi. A name I’m using more for the flavour and connotations than the actual shade.
If chartreuse is an ebullient teenager with only one volume, Wasabi is older, wiser, a little more tempered. He’s seen things. Moved out and gone to college, smoked clove cigarettes and developed a back story. He has (and is) an acquired palette. You can’t put him in a box –he’s not olive OR citrus. He’s his own colour.
He’s not too cool to play with others though, and can lend his je ne sais quoi to less nuanced colours. He’s at home on the set of Mad Men, with mid-century modern furniture and sorbet colour palettes – Peach Blush, Duck Egg and Banana Crème are all part of the crew. But he’s versatile. He can also hang with the drama club – the jewel tones and parrot plumes – magenta, fuchsia, gold gilt and stormy Prussian blue to name a few.
Much like his namesake, Wasabi was not meant to be dined on alone. Best paired with, oh, everything, he’s a pop of flavour to spice up your plate. I mean room.
Paired with purples and pinks Wasabi will read more yellow, pair it with turquoise and blues and it’s obviously green.
Texture is also hugely important in achieving your goals with Wasabi. Velvet will lead us down the garden path, or perhaps with silks into the opulence of Versailles, while felts and wools take us to college tweed jackets and musty rooms crammed of knowledge. Use it on the wall behind an even bolder sofa, or make it the hero fabric of your furnishing odyssey.
Keen to be bold but worried you’ll regret it? Aim for a palette of natural (read it again, *Natural* not ‘Neutral’) colours – So easy to do with our current fascination for tan leather, raw timber, indoor plants and succulents. They can all help to create context for your wisely chosen Wasabi.
A few things that make me wasabi with envy
Tree of life in Olive by Timorous Beasties – These guys produce the most wonderful,over-size asymmetric repeats inspired by nature, botany and chaos, printed on gorgeous weight linens or heavy wallpapers, they’re transport you to a wonderland of excellent.
Alma by MAAIKE – A gift from one love to another on their wedding day. See the full overhall from before to after here. Heavily influenced by a book I was reading at the time – The Signature of All things, presumably because ‘Adventures in Moss’ sounded much less exciting, and it is actually a great read…
Papier Mache Cactus via Stray Dog Designs Made in Mexico in an enchanting array of styles and colours, these guys are a little more modern designer than Etsy craft stand.
St Pierre de Chartreuse Poster via Poster Corner – (c.1930) I love a good vintage travel poster, the fact that this mountain blushes to pink at the summit makes me very happy. It’s like Narnia. Or Oz. A golden book of nostalgia.
O21c Ford concept car by Mark Newson – Ok so you need to squint and photograph it in the shadows to see this as anything more nuanced than grass green, but I want one! Newson designed this in 1999 as a concept car for Ford. Its ground breaking ideas (doors that open in opposing directions to maximise access/loading, and a filing cabinet style trunk) have yet to be adapted by the market, but gosh I wish they would! Everyone secretly wishes they were driving a Datsun from the Jetsons…. Don’t they?
Tonica 411 by Kvdrat Maharam – This is THE EXACT colour I mean when I say Wasabi. I often work with remnants, and can’t always trace fabrics to their source if I want more. Luckily this chunk of chamelion 100% wool had a tag left inside the roll. Able to skip from olive to mustard, chartreuse to Wasabi and back, this is the fabric that I would choose if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one. That’s a question, right?
Unknown wasabi chocolate stripe from Bev’s Remnant House – I fell in love with this at first sight. It’s a little bit grandpa, a little bit deco. Those green pin stripes sing, and can be fine tuned by pairing them with a greener or yellower solid. Pictured here in Jamaica Sunrise, an original MAAIKE from 2012. I recommend all my workshop students start at Bev’s Remnant House, she has a fabulous selection of linens, block prints, imports and designer remnants. You never know what you’ll find there, but I always find a shot of wasabi in her stash somewhere.
Next month; Peacock