What do pullovers, painted walls, bedlinen, bunches of flowers and carpets have in common? With every one of these objects, colour plays a central role in the decision to purchase. So it is hardly surprising that we, as carpet manufacturers, should be constantly preoccupied with colour…
We are concerned with questions like the following – What appeals to our customers? How do we find colours that are sought after and make people happy? What objective criteria make one colour more attractive than another? Are there colours that survive all passing trends? What is it that makes a classic colour special?
If there are colour classics, they could form the basis of our assortment. Fashionable colours and seasonable favourites could then round off the range. But the fashionable colours should also have intrinsic value – making them not just fashionable colours but in a truer sense, modern colours. Colours that are not yet classics, but could become classics – because they too really are ’beautiful’ in accordance with these marks of beauty which we have yet to discover. If we think and dream on, you could take these two sections of the assortment, the classic and the modern, and combine them in a single range of colour that is so beautiful that you would be emotionally affected when contemplating it and would wish to be given an overview of the colour tones. The individual colours are fascinating in themselves, and the combinations remind a person at once of a peaceful landscape, a lyric poem or a fine melody. The assortment of colours we are looking for is made up of the colours of poetry.
How can we find it? What criteria of beauty do we impose on the individual colours? How do we ensure that a combination is harmonious? What recommendations can we pass on for the use of colour? If a colour looks good on the ceiling, that doesn’t mean it will be decorative on the floor. In the end we have to be sure that our rules of beauty and harmony meet with general acceptance, and do not just reflect our own individual preferences.
There are no simple answers to these questions. Otherwise everyone’s assortment would be made up of the same ideal colours. In our search for the best colours and colour combinations, however, we did hit upon some interesting approaches. We found some surprising and at the same time illuminating ideas in descriptions which distance themselves from the short-lived fashion concepts of the present – in the writings of artists and the letters of architects, in texts written to accompany old colour charts and carpet sample books. These writings all endeavour to develop a logic for the application of colour to surfaces and the use of colour in space. They are in search of the generally valid rules which ensure that the totality of colour, surface, light and space makes a harmonious impression.
Paul Klee, for example, was a master of compositional balance in form and colour. The colour, as quality, had to be harmonised with quantity and situation – ingenious equations, which can be translated into colour strategies for domestic interiors. In an approach followed by few today, Vassily Kandinsky divided colours into warm and cold tones. Following his idea, we can arrive at a palette of colours that make space appear larger and cause the floor to recede, and other colours that have the opposite effect.
The rooms of Luis Barragán had an intimate relation to the landscape and to the folk art of his homeland. Colour served to orchestrate the light, and created atmosphere. Frank Lloyd Wright, who used coloured pencils for his architectural drawings, saw simplicity and peace as a basic requirement for the good life. The colours in a room should relate to the colours in the environment. Le Corbusier, finally, who based his approach on purist principles and developed a system of colour concepts, associated colours with functions. For Le Corbusier colour was a material – it was a component of outline and form, and an important principle of order in his architecture. We can learn from him what colours endow architecture with atmosphere, order and transparency.