Glory in Green – It’s a Color Too!February 3, 2010
It’s hard to believe, but a bulb that I planted in the dark days of December is about to become a freesia!
As the sweet, green buds begin to open, I take my cue from ee cummings, and give thanks “for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue dream of sky.”
Spring may not yet have sprung where you are, but the days are growing longer and it’s surely on its way. That’s enough to prompt me to write an ode to green.
Nowadays, “green” is so often used to mean “ecological” and “earth-friendly” that its identity as a color has almost become secondary. But it’s a wonderful color, and with St. Patrick’s Day on the way, I thought this might be a great time to take a great green design tour.
I like to acknowledge the folks who inspire me, and one of them is interior designer Jamie Goldberg, who writes a blog called “Gold Notes.”
Jamie, who relocated from Florida to San Diego, California not long ago, gave her readers riffs on a whole spectrum of colors last year. I loved that series. If you, dear reader, are up for it, I will celebrate spring by doing my own color series.
As a decorator color, green has enormous possibilities. It can be tart and bright, like the Italian “Question Mark” chair above, or as tenderly subdued as the Interstyle glass tile, also near the top of this post.
Green combines beautifully with other colors to create palettes that set various moods and evoke different styles. An intense apple green is the perfect, edgy accent color for a modern interior of neutrals or black and white. Bottle green and forest greens are reflective and relaxing when used with adjacent blues. Teals and turquoise greens can be energizing when paired with a complementary red, as they are in the batik fabric at right. An upscale, business look could pair a celedon green with shades of gray.
Greening our Emotions
Psychologists and market researchers who have studied the emotional responses people have to color have found that while some of our reactions are universal, much of the meaning we impart to colors is culturally based.
Because of its connection with plants, green signifies life, stability, restfulness and naturalness. For these reasons, it’s often used in hospitals. There is some evidence that green relaxes our muscles and helps us breathe deeper and slower.
Green can prompt us to feel comfortable, lazy, relaxed and calm. It can help soothe our emotions, and that makes it a great choice for a yoga or meditation room. It’s a pleasant option for a bedroom as well, because it’s as quieting as blue without feeling chilly.
This is not to say that green is all sweetness and light. Dark greens with gray or brown tones can have a deadening effect. Olive greens can look like week-old guacamole, and can remind us of decay and death. (It’s no accident that a cartoon character who is nauseated or has been poisoned turns green.)
Interestingly enough, market researchers have found that green doesn’t do all that well in the international marketplace. Green colored packaging has proved unpopular in China and France.
Of course, this being a blog that is in part about green architecture – by which I don’t mean houses that are painted avocado – I made sure to find some items that qualified as being both emerald in hue and earth-friendly in attribute.
The Prespa wallpaper at left is a good example. It’s handmade from paper bags by the two women who make up Avignon Wallcoverings, Caryn Outwater and Ariane Stein. The two have been friends since childhood. Outwater and Stein spend their days creating custom painted wallcoverings. Ariane and Caryn introduce new coverings continually and also offer full-service custom designs. Avignon’s papers are eco-friendly, using 100% recycled paper and all water-based paints.
Another verte-hued “green” product is Artist Jerry Kott’s Krysallis lamp, which is made from cut wine bottles. The lamp comes in both a hanging model and the table model that is shown at left. Price varies according to number of color blocks per lamp, and color choices include greens, amber/browns, and whites.
A few other wonderful, earth-friendly items made from recycled content are shown on this page. Hakatai’s mosaic tile, which is shown at the top right side of this post, is made from recycled, post-consumer glass. Their “Calliope” series contains color palettes that knock my socks off. (I wouldn’t mind a barefoot walk in some green grass about now.) You can order a sampler of Hakatai’s mosaics quite inexpensively. Their customer service is very good, and you can have the samples in your hands in just a few days.
Another of my favorite eco-friendly products is Vetrazzo, which I have written about before. (I took a tour of their factory in Richmond, California, and wrote about that for Living in Comfort and Joy last year.) For this green-as-a-color column, I decided to feature their Hollywood Sage countertop, which is made largely from soft drink bottles. It’s called Hollywood Sage because actor Ed Begley chose it for his kitchen and featured it in his green TV program.
Another beautiful product is Bioglass, which is manufactured by Coverings ETC. The company was founded in 1998 to source natural stone and mosaics and has added many new lines since. Their ECOVERINGS® line of products are naturally occurring, recycled, and/or manufactured with concern for conserving natural resources. Bioglass is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable and comes in six natural colors, including three handsome greens. As the image at right shows, Bioglass can be molded. The result can be a fairly complex shape, such as this integrated sink and counter, which was designed by Tsao for a residence in Miami.
Another green (sometimes) product is Memowell’s Magic Showerhead. It actually showers you in seven colors, not just green. But it does have green advantages. It contains LED lights that are powered by water pressure and need no electricity or batteries. “Why do I need lights to color my shower?” you may ask. Because as the water changes color, in two-minute rotations, you are being reminded that time is passing. The device is hinting that you should take shorter showers and conserve water.
Links for Items
Seen and Unseen
- Question Mark chair by Stephan Heiliger for Tonon
- Tennis ball chair by Hugh Hayden
- Generation office chair from Knoll
- Mundo stacking chair by Danish designer Susanne Grønlund from Fredericia
Counters and glass tile
- Hakatai Calliope series tile
- Recycled glass counters from Vetrazzo
- Architectural glass Crescent feature wall from Nathan Allen Studios
- Nolan Everitt Artglass
- Handmade blown glass knobs from All That Glass
- Interstyle Glassforms tile
- Arteriors Home Moss Green Etched Glass Lamp
- Babette Holland Tiger Lamp from Lamps Plus
- Darani Chrome Finish lamp
- Krysallis lamp by Jerry Kott
Rugs and textiles
- Green and orange primitive rug from CB2
- Green fern towels from Pottery Barn
- Up and Down knot Tibetan wool and silk rug made by Asha Carpets
- Ombre rug from Cost Plus imports
- Little Bird Pillow from CB2 (in partnership with Creativity Explored, a nonprofit for adults with developmental disabilities)
- Flowered duvet cover from CB2
Walls and Surfaces
- Avignon Wallcoverings
- Green shower enclosure by Lasser on 3Rings
- 3Form glass with seaweed enclosed
- 3Form’s Varia translucent ecoresin with maidenhair ferns enclosed
- CaraGreen Architectural Materials website
- Comfort and Joy Interior Design, the author’s firm
- Memowell Magic LED showerhead
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)