50 Shades of???.

Grey? No, not the saucy bestselling novel but the hot new neutral. I was recently told that ‘Grey’ wasn’t a colour. I thought back to the first set of designer’s greys that I bought and knew that they were so far from correct. Grey can be a complex colour with various shades and hues. Most importantly it is the new, ‘now’ alternative to shades of cappuccino or taupe and there are plenty of options out there for the discerning buyer to get their hands on. There are beautiful paint colours and interesting wallcoverings that offer a wide range of shades. I have decided to take a closer look at the colour grey and by this I mean archetype grey, as in a mix of black and white, which has proven to be a big hit in interiors over the past year or so.


Eloro from Cassina

Far from being the “drabbest colour in the palette” (Guardian Article ‘ Why has everything gone grey?’)…it is sophisticated and elegant, even regal. Used correctly it can be calming, comforting and not at all utilitarian or industrial.


Nobody Chair from Hay 

I learned from my box of pencils all those years ago what Colour Expert and Consultant Karen Heller advises so succinctly.  “ It’s best to use the shade of grey that resonates with you. There are warm greys (yellow based) and cool greys (blue based).”  Each grey will bring a different character to your space, cool and fresh or warm and inviting. When decorating with grey, shop around and find the right grey that fits with the other items that you want to include. A good tip is to use a variety of shades, get darker as you move upstairs towards the bathroom and bedroom spaces this will increase depth and add sensuality. Oops, looks like we’re heading back towards ‘that’ book.

When designing with grey it’s important to choose pieces of furniture and accessories that add layers of texture – velvets, wools, linen, wood and earthy tweeds soften & warm the look. Choose timbers that are complex and add depth to the scheme instead of just being structural elements. Walnut or Oak are the perfect choices to do just that. These types of wood are being used in new designs that hark back to a simpler time with elegant and well proportioned pieces. By its very nature, design is innovative and forward thinking. However, on occasion we do see the comeback of certain elements and trends that were a success in the design world in the past.

This is the case of Mid-century design, which seems to be experiencing a renaissance since 2011. This trend in home décor mixes the clean lines of the 1950’s and 60’s with modern sensibilities. The less cluttered, cleaner look sharply contrasts with the chunky and oversized look of the 1990’s. The mid century modern objects that go along with the furniture have the same sleek and clean look.


Fast Chair from Vibieffe

Recently we have seen designs created 50 years ago being reissued and many Scandinavian manufacturers are releasing vintage designs that were last used by our grandparents. It only bears mentioning that the amazing designers of these groundbreaking pieces are also gaining new notoriety.

Without these designers, who knows what furniture today would look like. Ray & Charles Eames, Robin Day, Ercol, Mies Van Der Rohe, Herman Miller, G Plan, Isamu Noguchi, Eero Saarinen are all names synonymous with this period.

All in all, it is not surprising to see the recent revival of mid-century design. The pioneers of this trend were responsible for many innovative ideas that fit in perfectly with the state of modern design, even decades later. Simplicity, unobtrusive landscaping, cost-effectiveness, and a clever combination of functionality and elegance are all principles that any designer can incorporate into their work.


Written by Ralf Farthing, Director of Catalog Ltd, for the October edition of Pulse Magazine


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This entry was posted on October 21, 2012 by .
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