Monday, June 21, 2010

Coming (Back) Into Play

With the current Mid-century Modern revival at bay and the era’s strong use of color, I am always on the lookout for historical inspiration. I found an article in the April 2010 issue of New Mexico Magazine titled “Come Into Play” about 1950’s and 60’s designer and textile expert Alexander Girard known for his colorful, playful design aesthetic. Reading the article brought me back to my teenage years, when Girard did his famous work for Braniff International Airways. Commissioned to design over 17,000 items for the airline, Girard picked shapes and colors that popped, like bright yellow, turquoise, lavender, hot pink and orange. In those years, I loved hot pink and orange together, and we are starting to see this combination again. Orange seems to be everywhere these days, even cars!

This article also was of interest to me because Girard chose the great state of New Mexico (my favorite state!) to receive the donation of his incredibly extensive folk art collection. The beneficiary, The Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, will be one of my first stops when I head to New Mexico this summer. I enjoyed this quote from the article that explains the designer’s intense love for New Mexico, which I can completely understand!
“He wanted to find a place in America that wasn’t urban and wasn’t suburban,” says his grandson today. “And I think the Native American mixed with the Mexican and the Spanish – the sort of clash of cultures that exists in Santa Fe – fascinated him.”

Luckily, we can all still enjoy a little bit of Girard’s “sophisticated frivolity” today with pieces from the following stores and websites:

Image from Maximo
*Throw pillows, fabrics, toys, shopping bags, laptop slings and vintage Girard products: Maximo, 4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque;

Image from FLOR

Image from Urban Outfitters
* Pillows, wall art, textiles: Alexander Girard Collection at Urban Outfitters


Image from House Industries
*Toys, games, t-shirts, type: House Industries;

Look for more examples of his work on the Alexander Girard Facebook Group Page!




“Superneutrals with Superpowers”

In the May 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine, there is an article that describes “superneutral” paint colors: what they are, why they’re better than plain ol’ beige and how there are a surprising number of bright, bold colors that are perfect complements. According to the article, because superneutrals are muted, they work with all kinds of palettes, so you can introduce a pop of color without overwhelming the space.


Step 1: Find a Color

Start with a shade you like (orange, for example) and look for a version with a little gray or white mixed in. Paint expert Laura Guido-Clark recommends using a fan deck of paint swatches to find a tone of your chosen color.


Step 2: Create a Palette

Find two strong, opposite shades, like this military blue and pale yellow, as accents. By painting the paler superneutral on the walls as a backdrop, you can change the punches of color whenever the mood strikes.




Or, you can choose a stronger superneutral as the dominant color (like the military blue), and then layer in softer tones in the same color family for a complex effect.