Kartell à la Mode

September 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

September 24, 2015

Kartell is an Italian company that makes and sells plastic contemporary furniture. Headquartered in Milan, they began manufacturing automobile accessories in 1949 and expanded into contract and home furnishings in 1963. 


They have now forged an interesting partnership with one of the most imaginative fashion designers with a long-standing reputation in the use of unique color and pattern combinations. Christian LaCroix became the darling of the fashion runways in the 80s, but the 90s and early 2000s saw a decline in both business and attention. However, in recent years, we have seen his name on the ascendancy again, this time combining with “Kartell à la Mode,” as it is being called, in creating and producing a new handbag line.


Available in two sizes, a tote and a clutch bag, the fabrication is injection-molded plastic, a material that Kartell is referring to as “rich and sensual,” certainly not the usual connotation and impression of plastic. The shapes are geometric in design and both styles will be available in five colors, although those five colors have not been named yet.


Kartell has a recent history of producing some other intriguing, industrial–inspired molded plastic in inventive fashion forward looks and, very recently, they partnered with No.21, a Milanese shoe manufacturer. Called “The Knot,” the provocative and intricate styling on the sandal is quite unique, one that takes special skills to make. It is available in five colors: black, powder pink, mustard yellow, khaki green, and burgundy.


The look of the shoes fits very well into the influences we saw recently in Paris. Stilettos have given way to much lower heels, with sneakers being the “shoe du jour” in every imaginable color, pattern and, most often, with sparkle.


Question: What do you think of the color range of the Knot? Would you wear this kind of shoe?

From Paris With Love

September 15, 2015 § 3 Comments

September 15, 2015


If you didn’t know already, I travel…a LOT!  My most recent trip was to Maison & Objet, a lifestyle uber tradeshow featuring all things “design.”  It takes place at an exhibition center outside of Paris and covers 246,000 square meters or about 61 acres.

Villpinte villepinte_hall

My traveling companion, assistant, and color/design associate, Melissa Bolt, walked every inch of the show with me, photographing our foray into the stadium-size halls.

Lee & Melissa mirror

We became immediately aware of the presence of design trends we have noted in recent seasons:

Eyeglasses as wall art and part of home décor accessories,…

Glasses Audrey art Sunglasses painting

…Owls peering from their perches,…

Owls yellow Normann Owls

…Butterflies still flying high,…

Butterfly pure silk Butterfly trays blue Butterfly chair

…Shoes as wearable art,…

Jewelled oxfords

… crowns that are not exclusively for royalty,

Crown plates

…and concentric circles, as seen in these South African wire bowls

Concentric baskets

to name just a few.


Vera Neumann: An Artist And Entrepreneur With An Eye For Color

August 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

August 12, 2015


I was surfing the web last week when I found an article on Vera Neumann published by Elle.com in Mexico. If you’re not familiar with Vera logo , you are in for a real treat. 


In 2010 Susan Seid wrote a very beautiful book called Vera The Art and Life of an Icon. It is filled with wonderful and colorful photographs of Vera’s history. In it Susan states:

“Vera Neumann was an unlikely revolutionary–her tiny five-foot-tall frame typically dressed in mod tunics and a bold scarf, armed with a quick wit but a shy demeanor. But Vera—the innovator of cross-licensing and one of the most successful female entrepreneurs of her time–had a radical philosophy: fine art should be accessible to everyone, not just a select few. She believed that artwork should not be relegated to walls. Rather, people should surround themselves with art–wear it, eat off it, and sleep under it. And why not? Great art endures. It lifts your sprit and makes you feel better. Vera’s art certainly does. It is bright, happy, and inspirational.”


A year after Susan Seid’s book came out, I made note of Vera Neumann in my book Pantone: The 20th Century in Color.  The chapter is aptly named “Colors and Coordinates,” where I said, “Designer and artist Vera Neumann didn’t seem to need any help understanding color interactions, or the way color creates a mood.”


Seid has quoted Vera as saying to the Washington Post in 1978, “Color is the language I speak best,” and, “Color is such a marvelous way of expressing emotion. We have so many problems in the world, color brings just a little bit of joy into our lives.”

I agree wholeheartedly.

If you are not familiar with Vera, a quick Google search will bring you into the colorful wonder of Vera Neumann.

Vera’s designs are still being licensed now, more than ten years after her death. Their longevity is her longevity. And for those of us who were around when she first came on the scene, it is a welcome reminder of a colorfully artistic era to see her famous logo still used today.

Catching Up With A Young Color Lover

August 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

August 6, 2015

It has been just about one month since I wrapped up my summer color/design course. It is a busy few weeks after the class. We are putting stuff away, getting prepared for the next class and chatting about all of the wonderful people we’ve just met and the ones who have taken the course previously. It was in that discussion where we remembered one student in particular, whose experience in class had such a colorful impact on her daughter that she gave her young daughter an impromptu color/class in the days that followed. We did a blog post about their experience because it was too adorable and it showed us all (I am sure her mother knew) that a child’s love of color is insightful and shows no bounds. Color is an important factor in childhood development and one day could ultimately lead to a career that involves color, including consulting.


Click here for the original story.

We caught up with Amy Anderson and her daughter Sofia to find out how Sofia is using her color skills today. We thought it would be fun to do a Q&A and, as a budding color professional, Sofia nailed it. She has a true gift for color and her choices are just as on-trend today as they were then.

Below are their responses:

Are you enjoying your summer so far?

Yes, it’s awesome!

What have you been working on since your color class?

In my art class at school, I made an orange cheetah mask with papier-mâché and my self-portrait. At home, I’ve been working on my own logo for “Sofia’s Colors.” I love color and art!


Are you pleased to see that your magic yogurt maker color palette is all over the fashion scene?

Yes, I love neon because it’s very bright and I like bright colors. They make me feel happy and energized.


Are you wearing neon? If so, what is your favorite piece?

Yes! My neon pink cardigan sweater is my favorite. It goes with everything.

What is your next project?

I’m really excited about metallic colors. I really like my metallic silver Birkenstocks! I’m working on a palette for a new product I want to create like the magic yogurt maker. Last week I went to the Paint Lab and picked out metallic color swatches: fire opal metallic, amethyst, sapphire, tourmaline, topaz, ballroom gold, aluminum and emerald.




Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed That Changes Blue #TBT

March 26, 2015 § 4 Comments

March 26, 2015
Originally posted on May 17, 2010
The world of multi-hued creatures never fails to amaze and amuse with its incessant and often clever usage of color. The Language of Color at the Harvard Museum of Natural History (a display that is no longer available for viewing) there were many examples of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and insects included, demonstrated and taught how certain specimens ward off danger, defy their predators and relentlessly attract the opposite sex.
•Coral snakes advertise that they choose not to be eaten by wearing bright rings of color
•Milk snakes adapt the same means of warning, even though they are not truly poisonous (but its a great way to get your enemies to think you are)!
•Similarly many species of butterflies imitate their bad tasting relatives in their brilliant patterning of orange, yellow and black
•Cuttlefish can change their colors to conform to their surroundings—effectively camouflaging themselves so that they can eat their would-be assailants.
•Some species of mice adapt to their environment by being sand colored at the beach and earth colored if they live on the land.
•Some species absorb pigment through the foods that they eat and metabolize, for example, the scarlet ibis, which eats crabs, and shrimps, which, in turn, eat red algae.
•As vivid as a brightly colored parrot may appear to humans, they are even brighter to each other, as their perception of color allows them to see the ultraviolet spectrum
•Microstructures in fur, feathers or scales reflect only certain wavelengths of color. Frogs are seen as green because they reflect blue light through yellow pigment.
•The white hairs of a polar bear are clear, lacking the pigment to absorb wavelengths, or reflect certain wavelengths. As a result, they reflect back the entire spectrum, which results in our perception of the polar bear as white.
•A male bird of paradise from New Guinea flashes much bolder colors than the females, in effort to attract. (The males of many species are often brighter than the female).
•If a male parrotfish gets eaten, the dominant female changes her sex—and puts on his brilliant colors.
(Editors Note: Now that’s what we call “survival of the fittest!)

“The changing color of a chameleon’s body is an impressive sight—but how it happens has long been a significant scientific question without a compelling answer. Now, researchers have identified a thin layer of deformable nanocyrstals in their skin which gives rise to the phenomenon.”


The final portion of this blog post on the color changing trend is courtesy of technology trends.

Technology is also impacting product development with amazing effects in fabrics and fabrications.  These products change color based on the heat generated by the wearer’s neural activity.

Color-changing jacket Color changing shrug

Color changing jacket 2


Colorful Pairings That Stand The Test Of Time

October 1, 2014 § 1 Comment

October 1, 2014

If you were looking at the Huffington Post last week, you may have read an article called “Fashion And Ballet Go So Well Together, And We Have The Sketches To Prove It”.

You may have been caught up in the wonder and glamour of the costumes and the sketches, just as I was. It all got me thinking about another time when ballet and fashion met. I wrote about it in the book Pantone The 20th Century in Color in the chapter called Theatrics.

Theatrics is all about the symbiotic relationship between Leon Bakst and The Ballet Russes Scheherazade. This was a complementary combination that sparked color and fashion trends.

Below is an excerpt from the chapter.

“Russian-born Bakst brought a fascination with folk art and Eastern sensibilities into his work. His patterns simplified Turkish, Persian, and Central Asian textiles into bold, modern geometry. Suzani embroideries were simplified into cotton prints of concentric circles. References to complicated ikat patterns were delivered in crisp applique or beading. Diaphanous, patterned scarves swirled suggestively around women’s costumes constructed with simple bras and hip bands rather than a stiff corset. Occasionally, as in star dancer Vaslav Nijinsky’s performance in Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune, sexualized choreography combined with Bakst’s designs challenged social mores of the day.

But his admirers were undaunted. His work elicited a fashion craze, which opened the way for brightly collared clothing with Orientalist touches like plunging V-necks, turbans, and tribal jewelry. His set designs were no less influential, and for many years to come, divans and floor cushions were used to evoke a bit of Scheherazade’s enchantment.”


It’s always fun to look at where trends are now and where they are headed but it can be just as fun looking back and following them along their colorful way.

Click the link below for more on fashion and the ballet.


Fashion And Ballet Go So Well Together, And We Have The Sketches To Prove It.

Another Look At Nature For Inspiration And Innovation

February 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

February 3, 2014

Enjoy this little color tidbit.

“The blue mussel mollusk creates a unique amino acid, which formulates a strong thread, connecting it to rocks in the ocean. By remaining attached to the rocks, mussels withstand the pounding waves of the surf. The mussel “glue” is created at ambient temperatures, under ambient pressures, and in a wet environment. Looking to nature, researchers were able to mimic the mussel recipe, creating a soy-based and formaldehyde-free adhesive now used in its products.”

Click the link below to read more. 

How Biomimicry is Shaping the Nature of our Buildings | Sustainable Cities Collective.

Following Up On The Fruits Of A Certified Color Consultant And Colleague

January 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

January 3, 2014

In 2005, I did a Color/Design class here on Bainbridge Island (as I do every summer) for those wishing to expand their careers in color and had the good fortune to have a lovely woman named Irma from Indonesia enroll in the class. Needless to say, Bainbridge is a long way from Jakarta and I was delighted that she was motivated enough to come all that way to take the training program, especially because I had spent some time in Indonesia doing consulting and presentations for a very large cosmetic company founded by a woman named Martha Tilaar. She literally started her company on a shoe string budget with a recipe for skin cream passed on to her from her grandmother. She had seen my first book, more recently re-done as More Alive With Color, and decided to contact me about the possibility of coming to Indonesia to train her make-up artists and salespeople in color.

I happily took my first trip there in the late 80s and subsequently went back to Indonesia twice in the 90s (including Bali— but that’s another story) and enjoyed every moment there. This is a country rich in color heritage and the women are really quite beautiful. They are a mix of native Indonesian, some other mixed Asian cultures and Dutch. The furniture in their homes, the food they eat and the clothing they wear reflects those varied cultures. Ms. Tilaar was a fabulous hostess and I found out when I was there that she had quite a success story behind her. When she took me to one of her cosmetic-producing factories, she opened cauldrons of bubbling creams and had assigned color names from More Alive With Color. It was quite a colorful and amazing experience!

It is always gratifying to hear from former students, particularly when I have such fond memories of both Irma and her country, so I was happy to hear from her with an update on what she has been doing in the eight years since she took my class. 


Among many other advancements in her career as a personal image and fashion consultant, she has been quite busy picking the colors for Garuda Indonesia’s crew uniforms. It was such an amazing coincidence that earlier in the year, July to be exact, she chose reddish purple as an additional color for the Maitre de Cabine uniform of Garuda Indonesia new cabin crew uniform (national flag carrier airline). Additionally in 2009 as part of the team of consultants for Garuda, Irma chose three colors for the new cabin crew uniform: turquoise, orange and blue (purser). After the launching of the new uniform in July 2010, she was thrilled knowing that turquoise was chosen as Color of the Year (2010) and Orange or Tangerine Tango for (2012).


Well done, Irma!

Reading List For The Color Echelon

September 30, 2013 § 4 Comments

September 30, 2013


Who doesn’t love a list?

Every year, twice a year, I teach a class on color and design. In the preparations for the class I compile a list of books that I have found to be integral in my pursuit of color knowledge. It is a very long list (12 pages) so I decided to pick eight books that I think are important for those who are looking to grow their knowledge and understanding of color.

1). A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman


2). Color and Human Response by Faber Birren


3). Color Psychology & Color Therapy by Faber Birren


4). Color Graphics; The Power of Color in Graphic Design by Karen Triedman and Cheryl Dangel Cullen


5). Colour/Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay


6). A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield


7). Living With Color by Deryck Healy


8). Designing Across Cultures-How to Create Effective Graphics for Diverse Ethnic Groups by Ronnie Lipton



I would love to hear about your favorite color books. Are any of these books on your “must read” list?

What books would you include in your top ten list of color books?

For my complete list of books sign up for my next Color/Design course in to be held in Burbank, January 2014.


Color Coded Cartoons

August 9, 2013 § 2 Comments

August 9, 2013

The color wheel is the basis of all color combinations. This circular arrangement of the spectrum visually illustrates the basic principles of color. That is part of what makes this cartoon color infographic from Slate Online Magazine (click the link at the bottom), so wonderful.

 Color Wheel-Fixed

As most people are familiar with the color wheel it makes perfect sense to color code cartoon characters, especially if you are looking to create a space for your child or inner child, the color wheel is a great place to start.

As a parent, a visual like this could make quick work of (re)decorating your child’s personal space. Even if your child’s favorite character hasn’t made the cut on this graphic you can still draw inspiration from this cartoon color wheel or any color wheel.

It is really important for children to have input into the color schemes of their rooms. It’s a wonderful exercise in creativity and a real confidence booster in their ability to do this. In addition, it really helps to set the stage for their participation in color and design projects when they get older.

It has been said that the greatest of all inventions is the wheel. I would say that the color wheel is next. For most people, much of color “knowledge” is based on instinctive responses, cultural conditioning, and those aspects of color that we seem to absorb without much conscious thought. yet there is a great deal we can learn about color that is based on certain artistic and harmonious concepts.

Blue Smurfs and green Ninja Turtles: The cartoon-character color wheel. – Slate Magazine.

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