Tag Archives: Colour

Tricia Guild: Colour Deconstructed

Day one of the Meet the Blogger conference that I recently attended wrapped up with an exciting visit to the Designers Guild showroom in Amsterdam. Entering the showroom was like stepping into Aladdin’s treasure room. The furnishings, textiles, wallpapers and accessories were a colourful treat for my eyes. After a long, yet enjoyable day, I immediately felt my energy-level perking up. The prosecco and nibblies, so generously offered by the agency’s employees, added a much-needed pick-me-up too. Thank you!

Pink Orange Mauve Grey

Top: L) Orsoglio Fuchsia cushion, Monceaux Saffron throw. R) Caviglia Fuchsia fabric. Bottom: L) a macro view of Zambelli Damson fabric R) Regent Ivory cushion, Stothard Teal and Alexandra Amethyst fabrics from the Royal Collection

There were a number of colour stories displayed at the showroom. They included shades of blue; emerald green mixed with accents of fuchsia and bright yellow; and a classic combination of black, grey and ivory. I am sharing a few of my favourites with you.

This “living room” beckoned me to sit and stay awhile. The graphic stripes and bold floral accessories bring energy to the relaxing warm-grey, muted-green and soft-purple colour scheme. Do you like the burst of mustard yellow on the one cushion? I think that it adds a nice bit of zing.

Tricia Guild Colour Deconstructed

Top: Cushions from L: Caviglia Moss, Astrakhan Noir, Padua Noir, Alesandria Amethyst. Bottom: L-Roncioni Moss Velvet Fabric on Chair Back; R-Padua Amethyst Cushion

One of my favourite textiles from the new Designers Guild collection is the ‘Roncioni‘ velvet in Moss. It’s the fabric seen on the back of the custom ‘Julep’ chair in the above left photo. The seat is in ‘Cheviot,’ a felt. This yin and yang mix of colours, textures, a solid and a pattern is one of the things Tricia Guild and her team at Designers Guild do so well.

Of particular interest to me is the company’s use of new technologies. I appreciate things made-by-hand and the artists, artisans and craftspeople who make them. At the same time, I think that digital technology can add to the creative process. Tricia Guild mentioned that all Designer Guild digitally printed patterns start as hand-painted designs. The Kashgar, Alexandria and Patio patterns shown below in the “blues” grouping are digital prints; a dynamic combination of the artists’ skills and cutting-edge production techniques.

Designers Guild Tricia Guild Colour Deconstructed

Top: Kashgar Cobalt Cushion, Alexandria Lapis Wallpaper. Bottom: L) Designers Guild Savine Cobalt Wallpaper, R) Patio Pattern from Christian Lacroix Carnets Andalous Wallpapers Collection for Designers Guild

My reaction to the colour combinations presented in the showroom reminded me of a statement Tricia Guild made earlier in the day during the conference:

“Colour makes the heart sing, touches the soul and gives joy to the spirit. Searching for this special feeling is my life’s passion.”

Indeed, colour has a transformative effect on our psyche. Yellows can excite or agitate (perhaps read my earlier post about Van Gogh’s love of yellow). Neutrals can soothe or bore. The secret is finding the right mix of colour, pattern and texture. Interior design books such as Tricia Guild’s latest,”Colour Deconstructed,” help us to find what works best for our unique personalities and spaces.

As part of the showroom event, Tricia Guild was on hand to personalize copies of her new book. Meeting Tricia Guild in person was a great experience for me. I admire her work and adore the Designers Guild line. Well-known for her impeccable sense of design and style, Tricia Guild is also a savvy business woman.

I purchased a copy of “Colour Deconstructed” (or in my case, “Kleur Ontrafeld,” no, I don’t read Dutch, although perhaps I will one day) at the event and am quite enjoying it.

To start, the book is beautifully constructed. I appreciate the attention to detail Tricia Guild gives to her books. This one has a colourfully stitched binding and brightly edged pages. So far, I’ve taken note of three different cover photos. The English-language version features indigo shibori; the German, a blue floral; and the Dutch, a red and blue floral, with touches of orange. Isn’t the ombré end-paper fabulous? It has the look of the Guild’s ‘saraille’ wallpaper.Colour Deconstructed Tricia GuildTricia Guild fills “Colour Deconstructed” with design inspiration and insights. Our responses to the different environments and images presented in the book offer clues as to the design elements that we would most enjoy having in our own homes.

We see how a few special touches create that “wow” factor. The interior layouts mix contemporary with classic, botanicals with stripes and concrete with linen. Tricia Guild skillfully combines colour, pattern and texture in a way that suits the space; merging her clients’ preferences with her unique style.

Perhaps best known bright palettes and bold patterns, Tricia Guild balances these elements with neutrals and solids. Here are some snippets from inside “Colour Deconstructed.”Colour Deconstructed BlackTricia Guild Colour Deconstructed BlueColour Deconstructed Tricia Guild BlueTricia Guild Colour Deconstructed Turquoise and Pale GreenColour Deconstructed WhiteIsn’t the photography in the book stunning? James Merrell is the photographer.

Colour Deconstructed Tricia Guild Texture Photo

The text translates as: texture, plaster, driftwood (according to google translate “wrakhout” is wood wreck, google image showed driftwood, a picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case, a better translation), marble, stone, decayed, glory and patina.

Inspired by book, I put together a photo collage for a home decor project that I’m contemplating. A bit of reverse engineering since I already have the textiles and searched through my photo files for shots that tell the story of the fabrics. Colour Desconstructed CollageThe purple-blue and white colours of the Passiflora caerulea or Blue Passion Flower are symbolic of heaven and purity. Poetic stucco and iron-work are sharply contrasted by the geometric lines of the shutters and shadows. A glorious rainbow cuts across a soft, yet stormy spring sky and a patch of sunlit landscape beckons us. The luxurious bolts of velvet are Designers Guild’s Varese, a wonderfully thick cotton velvet with a luxuriously dense nap. I’ll be combining the velvets with the vintage Japanese silk textile to create something (undecided what that something will be – suggestions?). In Japanese culture, the crane is symbolic of longevity and good fortune. The flowing water reminds us that life is fluid and ever-changing.

It was fun putting the collage together. I hope you create one (or a dozen) too. After all, the premise of this blog is to explore the world and bring beauty home in a way that is meaningful to you.

Additional Blog Recommendations:

Here are a few more posts about Tricia Guild and “Colour Deconstructed” that I think you’ll enjoy:

  • Stepping it Up (elliecashmandesign.com) Ellie Cashman, wrote her blog post before attending the Meet the Bloggers Amsterdam event. I came across her gorgeous moody large-scale floral wallpaper design on Pinterest months before meeting her.
  • DESIGNERS GUILD…(mademoisellepoirot.com) Carole Poirot is a gifted writer and photographer who also attended Meet the Blogger. Her passion for all things related to interiors, cuisine and craft is beautifully reflected in her blog.
  • Book Review: Colour Deconstructed by Tricia Guild (starrybluesky.com) Rhiannon Connelly is a talented photographic artist and entrepreneur. Her background is in textile design. Before focusing on photography, she created hand-painted textiles carried by Liberty of London among others.

The Beauty of Natural Dyes

As a follow-on to my post about Venetian Velvet, I’m very pleased to bring you a colourful guest post by my sister, Andrea Moffatt.

DSC02568I adore beautiful fabrics! And those created by hand, I cherish even more.

Creating stunning colours naturally, from bugs, plants and minerals is a fascinating science. So, recently, I jumped at the opportunity to take a natural dye course at OCAD University in Toronto. Lead by Chung-Im Kim , we spent six evenings sampling the amazing colour wheel of natural dyes.

image3079The versatile onion!

Now, when I cook with onions, I think of the beautiful shades of yellow that onion skin produces as a natural dye. My silk velvet samples illustrate how the range of colour is extended with the use of mordants – (from left) alum, iron, tin and copper.

From the palest soft butter to a deep spicy gold, the range of natural yellow dyes is amazing. I’m looking forward to trying turmeric. And I was just reading that fustic makes a lovely teal colour when over-dyed with indigo.

DSC02504Glorious red!

Silk velvet displays the variety of colour produce by cochineal (top row) and madder dyes. We had a great time exploring how each dye changed with the use of mordants – (from left) tin, alum, copper and iron.

Turkey red, an incredible colour made famous through vibrant cottons in the 18th and 19th centuries and hand woven carpets, required a long, laborious and very involved process to produce a bright and lasting red.

DSC02508Blue Indigo!

Capturing the many moods of indigo takes such time and patience. My experiments with creating light, medium and dark blues on silk velvet and silk dupioni. The lightest shade was dipped for less than 10 seconds. The temperament of the silk velvet made it a challenge – it was so quick at soaking up the stunning blue indigo.

9780500516607_25558I recently read Catherine Legrand’s, Indigo: The Color that Changed the World – so many beautiful photos of indigo-dyed fabrics from all around the world, including the deepest, darkest blues. It would be fabulous to travel and see them up close.


Creating the colour wheel. The beautiful warm yellow of marigold (centre) is over-dyed with madder (left) for a rich orange, or quickly dipped into indigo (right) for a calming green.

Natural fabrics take differently to natural dyes. You will find differences when dying cellulose fibres (cotton & linen) and protein fibres (silk & wool). Every dye batch can be a little bit different.

DSC02479It is interesting to see how (left to right) silk velvet, Belgian linen and silk dupioni each took to the beautiful purple logwood dye using different mordants (iron mordant on the top row and alum below).

The ancient technique of Japanese Shibori dying produces such beautiful patterns. I experimented with wrapping and tying silk around wooden chop sticks as well as randomly binding the silk scarves with string to make a variety of abstract designs, and layering with over-dyes.Shibori GroupingI can hardly wait to use natural dyes to create beautiful fabrics for my family and friends!

Thank you for sharing your experience, Andrea. It’s fascinating to see the different effects mordants can create. Sara.

Photos: Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by Andrea Moffatt.

About Andrea Moffatt:

2007 Photo Shoot Corporate

Passionate traveller. Lover of the arts. A consummate explorer.

As a senior business strategist for a global company, I bring excellence and innovation into everything I do. Driven by my never ending sense of wonder, it is these same qualities that delight me as I explore the world.

Alhambra – Colourful Impressions

William Harvey Drawing of the Alhambra

William Harvey Drawing of the Alhambra

Quote - Owen JonesThe distressed, time-worn colour palette on view at the Alhambra is right on trend (although, dare I say it, a waning trend). Traces of the once rich, vibrant paint colours create a sense of faded grandeur throughout the royal palaces.

Alhambra Colour 3 Photo Cropped  Victor Ovies | Flickr

NOW. Photo: Victor Ovies | Flickr

Photo: Phillip Clapper | Flickr

NOW. Photo: Phillip Clapper | Flickr

Photo: Phillip Capper | Flickr

NOW. Photo: Phillip Clapper | Flickr

Alhambra Colour 6 Photo Cropped FèlixGP | Flickr

NOW. Photo: FèlixGP | Flickr

Thanks to the work of British architect Owen Jones (1809-74) and French architect Jules Goury (1803-34), as well as others, we can see what the interior colour schemes likely were during the Nasrid dynasty.

In 1834, Jones and Goury visited the Alhambra, studying and making extensive sketches of its tile patterns, stucco-work and architectural features. Six months after arriving in Granada, Goury died from cholera. The grieving Jones immediately travelled back to England. He returned to the Alhambra in 1837 and completed the research. Jones published the work in a set of volumes called Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra.  They were the equivalent of today’s shelter magazines, with newly developed techniques in colour printing exposing the Alhambra’s beauty to all. The meticulously coloured lithographs attest to the artistry of Jones.

Window Hall of the Two Sisters, Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra 1845, Jones and Goury

THEN. Window Hall of the Two Sisters, Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra 1845, Jones and Goury

The first volume, issued in 1842, generated a great deal of debate in Victorian society about the virtues of Moorish design (the lifestyle of the Moors was thought to be rather risque). Given the deep colour schemes that became popular during the era, it seems to me, that they at least embraced the colours preferred by the Moors.

With a few exceptions, the prints do not depict the colours that Jones, Goury and others actually saw when they visited the Alhambra. Rather, what their research indicated the colours would have been during the Nasrid dynasty. This new information added to the buzz created when the prints were issued. Describing the harmonious colour scheme illustrated above, Jones writes,

“On molded surfaces, they placed red, the strongest colour of the three, in the depths, where it might be softened by shadows, never on the surface; blue in the shade and gold on all surfaces exposed to light; for it is evident that by this arrangement alone could their true value be obtained.” – The Grammar of Ornament, p.72

The soft teal and green remnants that decorate the stucco today, were once brilliant blues. The colour transformation is the result of metals in the blue pigments oxidizing. Jones also concluded that under Catholic-rule, decorative elements were repainted in purple and green. For the most part, visitors today see only ivory-coloured walls, as layers of whitewash added over time conceal all but traces of the original primary colour-scheme.

Alhambra Colour 2 Photo Cropped Sara Delgado | Flickr

NOW. Photo: Sara Delgado | Flickr

Jones Chromolithograph Column

Plate 38, Actual State of the Colors, Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra, Goury & Jones

From an aesthetic perspective, the Alhambra’s colourfully tiled and stuccoed rooms must have created quite an impression on visitors to the Nasrids’ courts. Imagine the utter opulence of rooms filled with the luxurious hand-loomed silk fabrics and magnificent hand-woven carpets of that time.

Model showing the Qalahurra Nuevw of Ysuf I; Interior of the Alhambra, Enrique Linares 1890 V&A Museum

THEN. Model showing the Qalahurra Nuevw of Ysuf I; Interior of the Alhambra, Enrique Linares 1890 | V&A Museum

Nasrid 14th century silk lampas weave textile fragment & wool early 15th c Murcia region carpet | Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nasrid 14th century silk lampas weave textile fragment & early 15th c Murcia region wool carpet | Metropolitan Museum of Art

Doorway Photo: Bartek Miskiewicz | Flickr

NOW. Photo: Bartek Miskiewicz | Flickr

Today, even in her faded glory, the Alhambra is still a lady with a lot of soul.


Added to My Reference Library Wish List:

  1. The Grammar of Ornament, Owen Jones. (not a reprint, so will likely remain on the wish list for a long time)
  2. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, Maria Rosa Menoca.