Moody Blues Have Moment in Home Design
by evelyn crowley
Restoration Hardware’s The House of Blues Collection.
Pantone may have christened Tangerine Tango the 2012 color of the year, but other design experts are singing the blues. And indigo—a velvety midnight blue—is their most popular refrain. Once a relatively rare commodity (the color was derived in the past from various species of plants), the now predominately synthetically produced shade seems to be popping up everywhere. There's the inky-hued home collection Diesel launched in collaboration with Italy's Moroso, The House of Blues collection from Restoration Hardware, and hand-dyed throws by L'Aviva Home that would make chic hippies weak in the knees. "I'm finding the color in everything, from ceramics to textile design," says interior designer Nina Freudenberger, whose LA boutique, Haus Interior, is no stranger to the shade. "I think it was pulled from the recent moment of Southwestern colors."
Whatever its provenance, there's no denying the indigo trend is now flying at full mast. Just ask Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. Each season she and her colleagues mine the cultural landscape for of-the-moment shades around which to build a series of nine consumer trend palettes (think paint by Zeitgeist). For Spring/Summer 2012, a palette called Indigo Effects made the cut. "It evokes a mood of broad expansiveness," says Eiseman of the eight-pigment palette that draws from such diverse influences as The Twilight Saga and MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate. "It's very mysterioso," she adds. Aspiring interior decorators take note: The palette also includes two accent colors, Pantone's Woodrose (a dusty pink) and Elmwood (a yellow-green).
Given indigo's sought-after status, it's not surprising several home-furnishings companies are showcasing the color in new lines. One in particular stands out from the pack: Restoration Hardware's spring collection is a robust but well-edited medley of bedding, furniture, rugs, upholstery, and drapery that feels both classic and crisp and gently worn in. If that description sounds suspiciously like your favorite pair of blue jeans, there's good reason: "A lot of us—including myself—wear jeans to work," says Restoration Hardware chairman and co-CEO Gary Friedman. "Denim is a part of our daily lives, so we wanted to bring it into a collection for the home." At its most literal, this means vintage-washed chambray bedding that, according to Friedman, "feels as if you're getting into bed in your most comfortable clothes."
Also found in the collection are various accent items such as floral scroll-print pillow covers, washed-linen indigo throws, and assorted rugs (flat-weave diamante and pinstripe, and hand-braided jute). For furniture, Belgian linen-upholstered Os de Mouton and Lorraine wing chairs both evoke a tongue-in-cheek regality. A 1950s Copenhagen chair that ingeniously pairs a distressed-denim interior with a leather-glove exterior is—despite its workhorse fabrics—utterly elegant. "We're putting indigo into new contexts and interpretations people haven't seen before," says Friedman of the collection. "But at the same time there's a sense of familiarity with the color itself, so in the end it feels both fresh and familiar."
While there's been some business recently in the design world of mixing indigo with poppy shades such as fuchsia and canary yellow, most professionals prescribe a more tempered approach. "I think it always looks great when you've got all shades of blues mixed with neutral tones," says Freidman, leading by example in a pair of jeans, chambray button-down, and caramel-colored sweater vest. Nina Petronzio of West Hollywood's Plush Home suggests the shade is best used in moderation. "I often think of colors in terms of recipe ingredients," she says. "Indigo is like a hot pepper—too much overtakes every other flavor, but just the right amount can complement a meal like nothing else can."
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.