Saturday, May 26, 2012

Call Me Color Blind

In defense of defenseless colors worldwide, I am now going to rant about the rampant racism I regularly witness. Who will stand up for these poor colors that have no voice of their own?  How would you feel if you were unfairly maligned simply for the color of your skin? Do you hold prejudice against certain colors, innocent by their very nature and incapable of malice or scorn in return?  In a taupified world such that Restoration Hardware espouses, do you ever speak out for the underdog when you witness discrimination?  This past spring I have been stupefied by the splendid flowers, by the brave little buds that proclaim, for example, "Look at me, I'm magenta!" They put out their chests, hold their heads high, and show off their colors with pride.

                 Please don't hate me because I'm beautiful!                                                          
When a client makes a grand pronouncement of hating one color or another, I am somewhat stymied.  Hate is such a strong word! And how has green come to be a popular color to despise and deride?  It usually has to do with some wretched hospital experience or being forced to eat canned peas as a child.  Well, I say, look around you, the world is largely green, and even then, the green is fast disappearing.  How can you dislike the color of trees and plants?  How can you loathe the color of growth and rejuvenation?  Former English majors sweat out a living coming up with names such as 'Glamorous Green' and 'In The Meadow'.  No need to spray 'Round-Up' everywhere!

 Color Profiling

Once, at the request of the client,  I did an alcove with purple upholstery.  All was well, until at the time of installation, the upholsterer made a stupid comment about it "Looking like Barney". Then the client hated it and wanted it redone.  Such emotional reactions tend to inhibit design solutions. I remember my daughter, Emily, going through a  period when pink and purple were her favorite colors.  One day, with a very serious and concerned look on her face, she asked me, "Do you like brown?" I've had clients dismiss worthy colors  with criticisms such as "Looks like baby poop", when the romanticized name might be 'Cut The Mustard'. Perhaps some of my clients could have another career coming up with paint color names such as 'Victorious Vomit', 'Bileous Bile', or 'One Too Many'.  

Red Man

I love the story of designer William W. Stubbs, who had the assignment to decorate a client's home while the client was out of town.  I'm not sure that Mr. Stubbs mistook his carte blanche for carte rouge, but when the client returned home he found a scheme based on red.  The client called Mr. Stubbs and said, "I hate red! You're fired!"  This story had a happy ending, as the client got to like the red rooms, and Mr. Stubbs was rehired.

Ready, Aim, Fire!

People aren't born hating certain colors.  I believe they were taught to be color racist by their parents and other early childhood influences. Come on now, it's not all black or white in the box and everyone has to get along!

Peach Flesh

Did you know that crayon names could be politically incorrect?  I never questioned the color 'Flesh' growing up in white suburban America, but in 1962, the color was renamed 'Peach' in response to the Civil Rights Movement. 

                                              Orange Man

You might need to select the orange crayon for coloring George.  And be sure to stay in the lines that the plastic surgeon so carefully crafted!  When starting an interior design project, sometimes a good clue as to what colors the client would be most happy living with are contained in their clothes closet. A quick perusal tells the truth. 

Blue Man Group

My favorite color in the Binney & Smith box of 64 crayons was 'Cornflower'.  Speaking of which...there are those who "hate blue". See the sky above you, and the oceans and lakes?   Saying you hate a primary color such as blue is equivalent to wiping out the entire string section of the orchestra. 

Out of an infinite number of colors, we can likely see only 10,000,000. So many choices!  We can expect that certain hues will go in and out of style.  I would like to suggest that though we may have our favorites and overall preferences, that we watch our word choice and no color's feelings will be hurt. Inclusiveness and tolerance will make for perfect harmony!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good Night, Dear Friend


Winterreise, by Franz Schubert
Gerald Moore, piano
Poem by Wilhelm Muller

1.  Good Night (Gute Nacht) 
As a stranger I arrived
As a stranger I shall leave
I remember a perfect day in May
How bright the flowers, how cool the breeze

The maiden had a friendly smile
The mother had kind words
But now the world is dreary
With a winter path before me

I can’t choose the season
To depart from this place
I won’t delay or ponder
I must begin my journey now

The bright moon lights my path
It will guide me on my road
I see the snow-covered meadow
I see where deer have trod

A voice within says – go now
Why linger and delay?
Leave the dogs to bay at the moon
Before her father’s gate

For love is a thing of changes
God has made it so
Ever-changing from old to new
God has made it so

So love delights in changes
Good night, my love, good night
Love is a thing of changes
Good night, my love, good night

I’ll not disturb your sleep
But I’ll write over your door
A simple farewell message
Good night, my love, good night

These are the last words spoken
Soon I’ll be out of sight
A simple farewell message
Goodnight, my love, good night

It says something of our American culture that the New York Times eulogized the passing of one of the greatest musicians of all time on the front page, as well as an entire page inside.   Lieder lovers, unite, in our sadness with the silencing forever of a truly sublime voice.