October 10, 2017 / Luxury Lifestyle

Look and Feel: The Power of Color

Meet the people who decide which color is the new black, know what shades will be in our homes next year, and can tell us why green is back in vogue


Tainted by the memories of avocado-colored bath suites and flared trousers in sludgy shades of olive, the color green was decidedly unfashionable in the 1980s. The following decade, however, saw the global campaign to save the world’s rainforests and the beginning of the environmental movement and “green” politics.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, photographed at her Seattle home for Christie's International Real Estate magazine. Photograph: Rafael Soldi. Banner image: The 2017 Pantone Color of the Year—Greenery (Pantone 15-0343)—is a refreshing and revitalizing shade that’s symbolic of new beginnings. Fast-forward to the present day, and it is definitely good to be green. The word has entered the modern-day lexicon as a shorthand for responsibility and a purity of purpose—and for 2017, the Pantone Color Institute, the respected color trend-forecasting body, announced its Color of the Year to be Greenery (aka Pantone 15-0343), a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade.

“The tangy yellow-green speaks to our desire to express, explore, experiment, and reinvent,” the Pantone Color Institute’s Leatrice Eiseman says of Greenery.“Green, including those yellow-greens that used to be thought of only as the color of creepy, crawly, slimy caterpillars, is today much more acceptable because of its association with the global environmental movement and the ideals it espouses,” says Leatrice Eiseman, one of the world’s foremost authorities on color, and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “It has also had a huge resurgence in fashion, which is often an indication of where a color is going, and because of this you will see green being used far more than you did in the past.”

While colors such as blue and yellow are constant in their appeal, others are influenced by current trends. Like green, brown has also found new fans. Associations with sources of warmth and richness—coffee, chocolate, real wood—have trumped its formerly unexciting, muddy image. Color in context
As a colorist or color consultant, Eiseman is an expert in forecasting and analyzing why colors fall in and out of favor, and she uses this understanding to help businesses connect with their customers and influence their buying behavior.

Each of Farrow & Ball’s paint colors is inspired by nature, historic houses, or notable people and places.“The colors a company uses speak to who that company is, and the image it wants to convey,” says Eiseman. “However, the use of color must always be put into context, with questions about the target audience and what the competition is doing. If a company needs an update, do you skew [its brand color] a little to give it a refresh? Or, if it wants to keep its existing customers but also appeal to a younger audience, do you add a secondary color that feels more modern? How does the packaging compare to that of the competition?

Color affects how you feel and behave

“If the mantra of real estate agents is ‘location, location, location,’ for colorists, it is ‘context, context, context.’”

Creating a look and feel
Color as a tool for communication is also the focus of style consultant Nicola Harrison Ruiz of Harrison Style, who helps her clients select clothes to suit their individual coloring.

New York-based personal stylist Nicola Harrison Ruiz says the combination of dark hair and pale skin is suited to high-contrast patterns such as black and white, red and white, navy and yellow. Light hair and golden skin tones, on the other hand, are more suited to softer colors such as cream, light blue, pastels.“People do make a judgment about a person in the first few minutes of seeing them, and style is part of this process,” says Harrison. “You never want the clothes you wear and the colors you choose to distract people from your face. That means figuring out which colors look good with skin tone and hair color.”

You never want the clothes you wear and the colors you choose to distract people from your face

Harrison compiles a set of about 30 outfits each season for her clients, covering working days, events, and socializing. The outfits are put together in a book or online, and she adds accessories that will help convey a particular visual message.

Sending a message
Decorating one’s home environment with color is, of course, also about self-expression. “It allows you to achieve what you want from your home, as color affects how you feel and behave,” says Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at British paint and wallpaper manufacturer Farrow & Ball.

As head of creative at Farrow & Ball, Charlotte Cosby looks to social, demographic, and economic trends when curating the company’s range of paint colors.“If you want a space in which to relax, you can create that mood with muted tones of gray/blue, as they look and feel harmonious and calming. If you want a room to get you motivated, you need hotter, more energizing colors such as reds and yellows. White, which symbolizes a blank canvas, is best if you need to be creative—it’s not distracting."

“Blue is regarded as the color of constancy, of loyalty and faithfulness, anywhere in the world,” color expert Leatrice Eiseman says. “Why? As humans, we know the sky has never fallen—it may get cloudy but the clouds will disperse and the rain will go away and we will have a beautiful blue sky that brings a feeling of serenity and peace.”Renowned for producing richly pigmented paints, Farrow & Ball has a palette of 132 colors, and these are refreshed every two years or so, with new ones created and a similar number (those that are selling least well) retired.

It took 1,300 craftsmen more than three years to finish this ornate palace in the Palmeraie district of Marrakech. Every surface—inside and out—is awash with pattern and color, from earthy greens, to subtle creams, to vibrant reds. On the market with Kensington Luxury Properties, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Morocco.Changing with the times
“We look at social, demographic, and economic trends to create a palette that works long term,” says Cosby. “At the start of the recession of 2008, gray started to come into its own—traditionally the color of hardship. During a recession we also tend to see a resurgence in the industrial look with materials such as concrete. In the years since, as we have recovered economically, the grays have become progressively warmer. Now, I feel, gray is almost finished and soon we’ll be seeing red- and yellow-based neutrals instead.”

If the mantra of real estate agents is "location, location, location," for colorists, it is "context, context, context"

Pantone’s choice of Greenery was also a response to socio-economic factors. “When we choose our Color of the Year, one of the very important things to consider is what people need,” says Eiseman. “For this year, it was all about the ‘re-’ words, such as ‘re-energizing’ and ‘revitalizing.’ People are working longer hours—what was needed was a color that could calm people down. Having that color inside allows the mind to make a link to the outside.”

This home in Bradenton, Florida, may, at first glance, have neutral interiors, but bold splashes of color throughout remind residents of its enviable shoreline setting. Pops of blue, turquoise, and green adorn tiles, fireplaces, furniture, fittings, and even the roof. On the market with Michael Saunders & Company, Christie’s International Real Estate’s exclusive affiliate in the region.An emotional connection
Both Pantone and Farrow & Ball give their colors evocative names that help forge an emotional relationship to a shade. Pantone’s prime sources are gemstones and nature; Farrow & Ball favors nature, too, but also locality and the names of historic houses where the colors were originally found. One of the company’s newer shades was discovered when the gun cupboard in the kitchen of a Georgian farmhouse in Somerset, England, was removed and the wall behind exposed.

“The new owners really liked the color and wanted to use it as a paint, so I chipped a bit off, and we developed it,” says Cosby. “We really liked it too and decided to add it to our palette.” Called Yeabridge Green, it is described as a “true avocado green”—further evidence that even the most unfashionable of colors can one day become loved once more.

 The vibrant world of Kirill Istomin


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Rachel Loos
writes for The Daily Telegraph and The Times, and is former editor of Elle Decoration UK