The world is much smaller than it used to be. Current events, both encouraging and troubling, are broadcast almost as they happen. With the touch of a button or the click of a mouse we can be informed of what is going on anywhere in the world. Sometimes it makes us want to go there.
Leisure destination travel is viable for many people and a topic of note-comparing conversation with nearly any professional associate or customer. Distant places traveled seem close by as images in the mind are treasured memories to be recalled. An emerging trend among travelers is craving much more than sitting on a cruise ship or basking on a beach. Many people want to experience a culture different from their own by hiking its interior or delving deeper into its culture than spending trinket money on souvenirs while visiting a tourist port of call. The real riches of a distant culture that entices one to take a piece of it home simply becomes a part of you.
Southeast Asia, China and India are examples of intense travel or interest attractions today. These traditionally mystical parts of the global village have, for centuries, influenced Western ways of thinking and created interior design with a palette of powerful colors and styles. Coupled with the dramatically increased Asian population in the United States, Asian style, which includes Japan and China, is emerging as a strong interior design trend.
A WORLD OF MULTI-COLOR
Christine Chow, director of membership for The Color Association of the United States, (CAUS) says the 2008-09 Colorwatch color forecast takes a more varied approach featuring color families rather than specific hot colors. According to Chow, “It’s a world of multi-color. Colors do not exist alone. Full spectrum color is a new direction for 2009. And, as Americans embrace more color in everyday lives, they’re more adventurous about color combinations and unusual color effects.”
Chow says a cool, clean Asian-influenced aesthetic is inherent in the forecast. Watch for blackened hues with a new alternative to black and whites in indigos, deep plums and purples on more fashionable, high-end products mixed with whites, off whites and browns. Yellow has been a rising color in many variations, including mango and wheat hues.
Here are two examples of styles and colors from around the world that Chow sees:
• Far East: Watch for “Eastern cool” and aged neutrals from the landscape: stone gray, moss green, deep indigo accented with lacquer red and sky blue. Chow says the forecast shows a continued interest in metallics, too; particularly with special finishes such as blackened patina or hammering.
Also look for what Chow refers to as purity in design, leading to natural forms and materials.
• Indian Market: An earthy, saturated palette is reflected in the emerging Indian market with vibrant colors related to fresh fruits and vegetables showing the growing strength of the natural food movement. Look for ethnic prints, modernized either through bright colors or oversized scales.
2007 CMG GLOBAL COLORS
Color Marketing Group (CMG) also has been tracking the global color influence as now seen in the 2007 Color palette. Current CMG colors include: “Rich, ethnic accents—lighter, neutral settings are punctuated by warmed-up accent colors from a rich mix of countries and cultures. Deep, rich ethnic reds and warm, glowing oranges are the ‘punch’ colors for 2007.”
These rich ethnic reds and warm glowing oranges will continue to be vividly appealing artistic strokes of genius in the future, as many clients long for the delving-into-culture experience. This is manifested through their own travel experiences or from a latent desire for travel. It then translates into a keen interest in bringing furnishings and artifacts (authentic or adapted) from other cultures, places and visual snapshots of color into their personal environments. The result can be highly satisfying, emotionally charging and thoroughly refreshing.
Red is an important color in many cultures. As a deeply rooted psychological color from history and the struggle for life and survival, it suggests the intrinsic color of life—from the process of birth to violent death through upheaval—the history of virtually every country’s heritage. It is also a representative color of love and passion—love of life and love for others; passion for artistic achievement and sensory perception.
In the now mainstream Chinese Feng Shui philosophy, red is a “propitious” color. This means that the addition of vibrant red to an interior lends good chi or energy from the universe, the macro-environment (the near exterior environment) and into the micro-environment of the living or working space.
The word propitious means “favorable,” or “inclined toward good results.” It is historically the color that brides in China wore—some still do—to insure good luck, long life, prosperity and posterity to continue the circle of family life and to provide for one’s future. Thus, vibrant red is a color of the past, the present and the future. It is multi-cultural and universally warm and appealing.
A mixing of styles is one way of achieving a global village interior. This is known as eclectic and begs a few rules to achieve success. One is that each furnishing item must be wonderful unto itself. As a standalone, each element in the interior should be high-quality, excellent design and interesting. Bringing divergent furnishings together into an intriguing whole also depends on the artistic placement of color, texture, form and mass.
• Contrast of color from light to dark, or as a saturated hue juxtaposed to a neutral element, is a key tool in eclectic success.
• Contrast of texture provides unity and variety—the two principles of design that combine to create harmony. For example, a deep brown or blackened wood next to a sensuous and richly textured silk fabric set in front of a background natural texture provides a type of scintillating visual or aesthetic thrill.
• Contrast of form is seen in the shape or outline of furniture, accessories, rugs and window treatments. Generally, a complex shape or form works best next to one that is undemanding. A smooth round, square or straight-lined object or drapery next to a complex carved wooden piece is one example of contrast of form.
• Contrast of mass is seen in the placement of items that have different sizes and scales and different visual or actual weight. Thus, some items are visually or actually lightweight compared to others that have depth, weight or substance.
Each of these rules must be accomplished with an artist’s eye, placed together with great sensitivity to the reaction of the viewer. Does it work? is a question that is often asked when combining divergent elements. This means that the result of the placement is exciting and satisfying to the viewer.
VIVE LA FRANCE
With all this discussion of exotic cultures and contrasting elements, what of the updated European corner of the global village? It is still very much in style.
Its order and dignity, classic textures and forms are perennially appealing. Consider the photo from Houles. The trimmings added to this Neoclassic fauteuil (open arm chair) give a refreshing richness to a furniture piece that has been admired and incorporated into fine interiors for well over 200 years. That length of in-style appeal indicates real “staying power” of the global village French Quarter.
It is often said that a great fauteuil is so flexible it can be successfully upholstered in virtually any fabric. This example shows that the blackened Asian hues in both silky smooth textile and black lacquer wood finish are nothing short of stunning. Black and gold are rich color combinations from Asia and from the beloved French Empire period—both world-class looks.
THE CORNER OF YOUR WORLD
These are glimpses into the global village world of interior fashion. In your own corner of the world, customers will be found who have traveled broadly and who desire to treasure memories of places far, far away. There also will be some whose corner of the world is their own community, perhaps reflecting the culture of their own lives.
With sensitivity to individual style, you can create for them just the right look that reflects their view of the beauty of their world.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.