So a couple of things I've learned over the years. The people who come up with the names for fabric ranges and paint colours are generally high at the time, and what colour gets selected for the colour of the year is a flipping mystery.
To make matters worse, there is never just one colour of the year we have to contend with nowadays. This bandwagon is taking some serious strain under the weight of every company, even remotely associated with colour, jumping on board.
As an interior designer, I have never really paid much attention to these colours to be honest. Mostly because they are pretty pointless and to try and incorporate them into a design would do more harm than good, (I'm talking to you 2016 “Serenity”) however this year is slightly different. Pantone, the one we actually care about, has gone and chosen a colour that might survive longer than its namesake. Nobody can argue that Classic Blue is a shade we haven't seen used before, so let's not pretend that all things blue over the next year have Pantone to thank, but at least it's a nice enough colour that I can understand why people would want to use it for many years to come.
However this whole process of picking one colour to rule them all, has got me thinking: Surely as Classic Blue claws its way to the top of the pile, there must be one unfortunate colour finding its new ranking at the bottom of the barrel?
Now I know that I have just said that the colour of the year doesn’t have any real bearing when it comes interiors, and likewise, picking an annual colour to avoid, is pretty much the same thing. However I feel that if we are to name and shame a colour, it’s only fitting that we all try our best to avoid it for as long as possible. To be honest, if I had my way, this colour should forever bear the title of “Interior Design’s Worst Colour.”
This colour, and I hope this comes as no real surprise, is purple. Ultimately the term “purple” includes a variety of different shades, so if you are looking at your violet feature walls thinking you’re off the hook here, you’re not...I’m talking all shades. African violet, Mauve, Periwinkle, the lot.
This decision, to name and shame purple, hasn’t just been plucked at random, it has some actual factual clout.
I have always said that there are so many complexities to interior design and there isn’t always a right or wrong answer at times. When it comes to the colour purple however, I truly believe that to use this colour, based solely on “it’s my favourite”, will do more harm than good.
My reasoning is twofold. The first relates to the colour itself, which, in my opinion, is nearly almost always shit. The second, relates to the type of products that get made in the colour purple. For me, this is where the majority of the issues lie.
If you head out with the intention of creating a purple themed room, the term “starting on the back foot” has never been more relevant. Without even realising it, you are being forced to select the best of a bad bunch, and by default you are ending up with a compromised result.
Purple, and the "peripherals" as I am calling them, unfortunately don’t get the same treatment from suppliers as other colours. Furniture makers, fabric designers, tile suppliers, etc etc and the products they supply in purple, almost come predetermined to suck. This isn’t me just trying to find a reason to hate on purple, but the colour alone limits your choices.
If you had to head off to a fabric house and select fabrics from a whole spectrum of colours, line them all up, and score them best to worst, I would bet a lot of money that the purple ones would be somewhere at the bottom. This isn’t because they contain the colour purple, but because the designs, patterns, and overall quality of the fabric is pretty shit or just old fashioned.. The same applies to things like accessories, wallpaper, rugs etc the purple ones are by far the worst or have no place in 2019 let alone 2020. Its an odd phenomenon I admit, but it's a phenomenon nonetheless.
It’s like trying to buy a pair of kid’s pyjamas in light blue, that doesn’t have characters from Disney’s Frozen printed on the front. You’d seriously have to be on the hunt for a while before finding them. Same goes for purple, chances are if you aren’t careful about what you're buying, you are going to end up with a living room that looks like it's been alive way past its expiry date.
To start unpacking when, where and how to best use these “compromised” products is like opening Pandora’s box, however I would always suggest that if you are keen to use purple (or any questionable colour really) but are nervous that it may indeed start to compromise quality, you should use the colour to make a statement, but not to start the scheme.
In other words, introduce purple as a cool pop of colour, something left-field or quirky, rather than use it as an overall palate of a room. It's like wearing a bold lipstick and keeping the rest of the look black, or some fly socks with your grey suit. That little snippet of colour sometimes says more than dressing head to toe in it, and let's be honest, is far more manageable when you don't have a clue.
It’s easier to control one or two key pieces in a space than having the colour start dictating your levels of taste in a room, or in the case of purple, the quality. The pics below show exactly how this is done. Quite ordinary colour palates generally, with a statement made with the use of purple. The shade of which is probably the most tasteful of the lot.