Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Living in a Gray World

James Hall bemoans the decline of color:
The last quarter century must rank as one of the nadirs in the history interior design. The palette of permissible wall colours consists of cool whites and greys. These constitute about 30 percent of the colours on the Farrow and Bal paint chart, but must account for a far higher proportion of sales. They are currently featuring French Grey (a name coined in the early nineteenth century), and recommend it with a range of like-minded colours --Off-White, Clunch, Lime White, Slipper Satin, Bone, Mouse's Back and Studio Green (which looks charcoaly). That old faithful Magnolia is too warm to exist in our dirty ice age. 
When it comes to art museums, he writes, everything is gray: "After ten years of planning, the new Rijksvuseum in Amsterdam opted for five shades of grey." And it isn't just the colors:
This is an age of metal and concrete techno-minimalism, with status defined by the sheer volume of forensically lit, textureless, patternless empty space we inhabit. Metal-framed glass walls and doors, blinds and shutters, serried ranks of skylights and halogen downlighters banish sensuality, shape and shadow.
To which I can only nod. But Hall wrote this rant for a review in the July 5 TLS of an exhibit of neoclassical design in Britain. So I have chosen to illustrate it with pictures of Syon House rather than more of those dreary gray walls. You all know what they look like anyway, and I've seen enough for one lifetime. Better to post pictures of rooms with real style.

Of course neoclassical designers like Robert Adam could work in muted colors when they wanted to. Nobody wants bright colors all the time. But does every wall have to be flat and gray?

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