Red, orange, yellow, and green, blue and indigo, and the last one’s violet. Did you sing it when you read it? Wonderful! You remember! This nursery song was our first introduction to the technicalities of colors. Rainbows were the first basis of our distinction among the hues that surround us – the blue sky, the green grass, the yellow sun, the red roses, etc. This natural phenomenon of light commenced our familiarity with color that helped us vividly express our feelings, emotions, desires, and obsessions without notice. Our peculiar inclinations to certain colors are inculcated values that were developed from emotional responses in life. Colors are products of physical, social, cultural, emotional, and psychological experiences that elevate or restrain them.
In a Zoom panel organized by fashion house Carolina Herrera, its current creative director Wes Gordon, and highly esteemed guests like designer Jamie Drake, color curator Joa Studholme, executive director of Pantone Color Institute Lee Eisenman, and illustrator and filmmaker Quentin Jones candidly talked about colors and hues like old friends gossiping about the most random of things at 11:00 in the morning. It was stimulating to hear each of these individual’s “views” on color. How they graphically explained the intricacies, effects, and purpose of hues that relate to its elaborate nature in life. It was an eye-opening experience that prompted exploration into the wonderful world of color.
Color is Memory
The conversation started, like any kind of interview would; with the recollection of the past. When asked about early memories of color, answers like black-eyed Susans diligently sitting on the side of Jamie Drake’s childhood home, annual wall color changes made by Lee Eiseneman’s mom, a monochromatic Kermit-green summer look of Quentin Jones’ dad, unused Caran D’ache crayons that Joa Studholme constantly reorganized in its tin can, and Wes Gordon’s Fisher-Price picnic table in the middle of a stark backyard in his childhood suburban neighbourhood, loosely popped up. The common thread that all of these holds is that they are fragments of these individual’s past – stored like time capsules in their minds. What color reminds them of are almost always associated to their childhood. Color is a reflection of sentimental longings and nostalgia that are unique to each of their experiences. It is memory stored in hues.
Wes Gordon had the most interesting approach to deciphering color as a source of inspiration. Aside from the usual archival references from the house, he purposely changes the color of his collection’s mood board every season. He says that simply changing the background dramatically alters the supposed narrative of the collection – adding more depth and layers to its untold story. These minuscule alterations, he says, become jumping-off points for the color story of the season. Marriage of color combinations is masterfully developed to create a romantic tale that Carolina Herrera is known for, serving to evoke the feelings, inspiration, and sources that Wes Gordon envisioned for the collection. Joa Studholme and Jaime Drake wistfully compares these small changes to the changes done in a home through accessories. Adding pops of color, experimenting with patterns, and moving things around the house can drastically affect the atmosphere and mood of a room. Which in turn, creates a fresh environment to live in that ultimately inspires and revitalizes well-being.
Emotion will always be attached to color. Lee Eisenman quoted a designer, “If you paint the ceiling blue, you will always get a feeling that you’re attached to the universe. The sky is blue, and therefore brings openness to the room.” This holds so much truth, because color beyond its surface of transforming spaces, it is a powerful tool and phenomenon that speaks greatly to each of our emotions. The connectedness it ties us with imbues familiarity and unity that present a universality only achieved through it.
In a closing game for the Zoom interview, Wes Gordon asked the guests to quickly think of a color that they closely associated with a particular word. Some of the colors they interjected in between the words were the same as with the other guests. Without research, scientific explanations, or theories, there is a common ground that can be concluded with color. One way or another, the power it has on us flows over its intimate nature with our memories into a more complex character that unites and conserves.
Times like these, colors can amplify, delineate, or neutralize hodgepodge of thoughts and feelings that persistently simmer within all of us. Colors can help us visually react to our surroundings and situation, whether it be the clothes we wear on a daily basis, the flowers we choose to have around our homes, or the Instagram posts we heedlessly gravitate towards and like. Color serves as an escape from life – distorting the realities we face and the fears we conjure.
So what are you waiting for? Get that bright yellow throw pillow, those luscious lavender hydrangeas, or that rainbow vase in your storage and put them around your home!
It’s time to think color, be colorful and have fun in color!