A Colour-Perfect Day – from Hella Jongerius to Nathalie Du Pasquier

Most of the time, when describing what I do for a living and who I do it for, I am met by reactions of awe, curiosity and intrigue – trend forecasting, it sounds so glamorous and creative and fascinating…! I always then feel compelled to tone it down and explain that yes, we travel a lot, and see lots of wonderful things and places, but a lot of the time the research happens behind a computer screen, and our job entails a lot of knitty and gritty, less-than-romantic routine paperwork, image crediting, etc.

Some days are better than others though, and a day like this ticks almost all the boxes that remind me why I do this, and how much I love it. I had been planning and coveting it for a while, knee-deep as I am in the office at the moment with new  season deadlines. The day started with attending the press preview of Breathing Colour, the new stunning exhibition of Hella Jongerius’ research on colour at the New Design Museum here in London. Let me tell you, colour is an evergreen crowd pleaser, but when you work in colour as I do you savour occasions such as this one to recharge the eye and the mind. Hella’s work with colour spans across the last 15 years, and I had already had the chance to admire from up close how her CasaVitra installation brought to life Vitra’s material and colour library in Milan back in 2016.

And this exhibition is no exception: the series of new commissions and site-specific installations creates a journey on how light conditions influence our perception of colour and form, which ultimately can also be experienced as a journey in the artist / designer’s reasoning on the subject. The show is organised in three spaces that evoke the daylight conditions at different times of the day – morning, noon and evening, and feature a blend of various materials including mesmerising textiles and 3-D solid shapes – her ‘Colour Catchers’ –  that interact with the light and the shadow by reflecting, refracting, diffusing or absorbing. There is an interactive side to it as well, as it is important to understand first-hand how light and colour work together. I loved the delicate, warm light of morning and noon – but my favourite is the evening section, where her research on the colour black, shadow and the impact that the use of charcoal has in the pigment result in a fascinating variety of tinted darks, so rich, so deep yet so delicate. Once again, the rendition of the subtle shade shifting on textile is the perfect complement to the solid surfaces. And what makes this exhibition all the more interesting is that it remains open to be read in as many ways as there are eyes viewing it – it aims at enabling visitors to afterwards see, perceive and be more aware of the complexity of colour into their surroundings.

We – and I say ‘we’ as this became in fact a fun, cross-departmental field trip and a welcome different start for a work day – headed back with our eyes filled with colour and texture, and not even the rain managed to dampen our spirits, not to mention that walking around the beautiful Holland Park neighbourhood also does wonders for mood lifting… The day went on quite smoothly and constructively, the beauties seen during the morning fed some research into the new season – a good start motivates a productive day to make up for the time invested outside, and I was also very much looking forward to the evening event as well. Yes, double colour feasting for me yesterday, with the opening of Nathalie Du Pasquier’s From Time to Time show at Pace Gallery.

I have been a long-time admirer of Nathalie and her work in art, graphics and design – a member of the iconic Memphis movement, and a woman moreover. Here she takes over the Pace Gallery space with a perfectly balanced distribution of sculptures, paintings and drawings as well as colourful wall interventions that visualise her long-standing research in representation, colour and assemblage. New work joins the show, and a red room is at the heart of the gallery exhibiting some of her more constructed still lives from 2008 to 2014 and the visitor is brought to discover it after taking in the more recent pieces where paintings include three-dimensional elements. Nathalie describes herself as a “painter that makes his own models” and this approach is beautifully visualised by the show, where her wooden compositions stand out against the solid colour walls and complement the abstract still lives of the paintings.

The bonus part to this wonderful evening ? Finding long-time-no-see friends there, having made a date out of this opening to take it in, get inspired and share a toast. All in all, it was a perfect work day in fact – one of those that remind you that you do something pretty amazing with pretty amazing people and it gets you to pretty amazing places amidst pretty amazing pieces. Tomorrow is back at my desk, and looking back will bring up a smile.

Intrigued by the rise of tinted darks, colour blocking and how they will define the upcoming seasons? We have been tracking their evolution for a while across interiors, and L&I subscribers can head to the Colour section on the platform to find out more.


Still not got your colour fix? Check out this post colour clashing here.

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