Years ago I worked with a very talented interior designer who could do beautiful work using color, but specialized in a sort of natural non-colors only palette, the natural pale birch through ebony shades of wood - white and off-white and unbleached pales and black of granite or leather. Really beautiful, nuanced, textural interiors.
But where was the red? I wondered.
Red! how could anyone resist it? Some famous interior designer (wish I remembered who) said that
"No room is finished until there is red in it."
Except I feel that way about most colors. (Except for maybe what Winston Churchill called "poor brown.") Shoot, even brown - warm, friendly brown - has its charms. I love color! Can't get enough of it.
Matisse's red room - believed public domain image
I've been reading or rereading a couple great books on the subject lately:
Roy G. Biv: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color, by Jude Stewart and Pantone: The 20th Century in Color, by... Pantone I guess. The color-standard experts, you know the ones.
Roy G. Biv is a little book full of the stories, folklore, history, and science of color. Fascinating! Here are a couple quotes from it that caught my eye:
"Red, of course, is the color of the interior of our bodies, In a way it's inside out, red."
- Anish Kapoor. And...
"A thimbleful of red is redder than a bucketful."
- Henri Matisse. A man who knew his Red.
Pantone's 20th Century book, on the other hand, is less literary and more visual, though no less historical, a decade by decade look at the last century's color palettes. Using an image from each period - a painting, an ad, an object - Pantone color samples are pulled from each. Not only is this an interesting and beautiful book... I've found it very useful in working with directors in establishing the color palettes for theater shows.
(I wrote more about the Pantone book HERE when I got it for Christmas.)