DEEPLY INTELLIGENT COLOUR CHOICES
When the revolutionary fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent was creating his next collection, he would famously retire to his colourful retreat in the Jardins de Majorelle of Marrakech.
It was said that he would sit at sunset, with pad and pencil in hand, and watch the colours of the sky dance with those of the petals of the blooming flowers, meditating as the light of the sky shone through the trees, reflecting on the mirroring pools of water. The orange of saffron, the blue of the art deco house, the violet of the bougainvillea..."This city led me to colour," he would say. In this blue and green garden of earthly delights, the "flowers" were caftans sprouting in apricot velvet andpeacock turquoise.
Saint Laurent himself described in 1983 how he embraced the inspiration of the light and colors of Marrakech, its "insolent mixes" and "ardent inventions." "But I wasn't content with importing this culture," he said. "I annexed, transformed and adapted it."
Today, the Jardins de Majorelle is still one of the most visited sites in Marrakech, and is officially described in the following way:
"We amble along shady lanes, in the midst of trees and exotic plants of dreamy origin; we walk past refreshing, burbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers; we hear wafting through the air, laden with sugared fragrance, the rustling of leaves and the chirping of numerous birds who come here to take refuge; we stop, and the path turns unexpectedly, revealing a building with Moorish charm, with a hint of Art Deco, painted in astonishingly vibrant primary colours, glowing with an intense blue the artist perceived in the Atlas Mountains. We are soothed and enchanted by the harmony of this luxuriant and vivid imagery, which issues a delicate summons to the senses, offering us a calming retreat near, and yet so far from the bustling city, sheltered from time by high earthen walls."
The dresses Saint-Laurent created in this magical place were not one-off special Moroccan-themed artworks, nor specific pieces to be sold at auction at Christies. They were outfits be worn by women everyday, at work, at dinner, and special events. These were clothes that would not only echo the society that he lived in, but inspire the much needed changes of that time.
How can we bring this level of inspiration home?
When choosing the colour palette of our spaces, we often turn to the likes of Pinterest, the latest Elle Deco, or even a Dulux catalogue for inspiration... (assuming we aren't only settling on various shades of white, gasp!)
While all these are worthy options, when building a temple or sacred space, a more inspired route should be used.
To create a space that is deeply intelligent, and truly expressing your fullest being, I invite you to follow the lead of our above protagonist, starting your creative process with an image or a scene which, for you, has triggered paralyzing beauty.
Like Saint-Laurent, or even the architect Majorelle who was inspired by the shades of blue seen in the Atlas mountains, can you remember a place and time when you have felt overcome by emotions in such a way that your whole body felt moved beyond words? A moment when time seemed to stand still, when shivers invaded every cm of your being, and you began to feel at one with everything in existence? Perhaps a moment so illuminated, that you felt your very being become a vessel for love, inspiration and divine beauty?
A few examples:
When I designed the café of 19 greek street for the Art of Progress exhibition in 2015, I had just returned from a magical, heart-opening trip to Mongolia where I had been exposed to landscapes of paralysing beauty.
I wanted the space to transpire this experience for its visitors to enjoy what I had been so privileged to feel at the time.
So I chose some images which had been shot by our adventurous photographer Josh Exel and it lead me to come up with a palette for the walls, furniture and fabrics that would match the experience.
Deep greyish greens for the walls reminded us of the stormy sky and the land. The beiges and browns of the furniture fabrics and curtains reminded us of the coats of the yaks and goats, and the cloaks of the herders themselves.
Some light hues of pink were even used in the upstairs level to remind us of light of the sun as it peaked out in the sky for sunset or sunrise.
When I was designing the first hotel room of the Library private member's club, I remembered a moment when I was camping in the desert of Tunisia, south of the Atlas mountains, seeing the sky turn a vivid blueish green with a beige sandy landscape lying beneath.
When I designed the sacred transformative tearoom for the Collectors Club in 2016, we were collaborating the talented art curator of Bo Lee Gallery and felt deeply inspired by one of their pieces, a painting by artist Wanda Bernandino.
I felt the piece was dramatic, deep and mysterious but had just the right provocative touch of avant-garde. I was intuitively lead to a deep brown/violet shade matching this piece to transmute that energy in the space.
Most recently, when designing my own piece of paradise here in Spain, for 3 separate spaces I chose 3 shades present in the sunset, my favourite time of the day.
A pink/orange found in the strand closest to the sun, a light pinking violet in the strand above it and a light blue reflecting on the water.
Starting with an image capturing these special moments, we can then pick a few colours that are most prominent in that image, select 2-3 that we feel intuitively work, and match them to the colours we then find on pinterest, Elle deco or our local paint company.
Does our starting point always need to be nature?
No. But it is ideal.
As we have seen so far, aligning our space to the universal forces of creation aligns it to source. There is a deeply intelligent wisdom which exists in nature and in us as well. This access to divine perfection, when awakened, can bring transformation to our beings and those around us.
Surely, divine perfection can be found in elements other than nature, such as an art piece (painting or sculpture) a sacred stone, a garment such as a scarf, a museum, a church, sacred space, even a beautifully crafted meal or pastry. What is most important is the level of inspiration, the sensation it triggers and our ability to bring it to life through design and space.
Begin with meditation
Grab a crystal, a sound instrument, a meditation track, incense or anything you have handy.
Sit comfortably, eyes closed, hands facing down on your knees.
Begin by connecting to your breath and to that part of your body which is touching the floor or the seat beneath you.
Sit in that space of connection to yourself for a few minutes, sounding a gong or other sound instrument to help you disconnect the thinking mind, or connecting to your crystal or incense.
From that place, imagine yourself being carried up, way up, on a cloud.
You are being carried far, far away.
Imagine you are sitting up on this cloud and looking down on your life, you can see every moment in your past.
Imagine the cloud slowly starting to descend back down to earth at some point in your life.
If that cloud had to descend in that time and place when you had experienced that most intense, vivid imagery, triggering sensations of love, connection and inspiration.
Where was it and when?
Can you describe how it looked? Which colours were involved?
How did you feel? Inspired? Loving? Supported? At one with everything in existence?
First, write down these emotions, then write down a specific description of that location and that moment in time.
Do you have an image of it for reference? If not, can you find one online or in a magazine that most closely matches your experience?
Creating your colour board
On a computer, open your image using a photo-editing software. If you have Photoshop, that is great. if you don't, your computer is likely to have a more basic one such as Paint.
Open the image in Paint, and use the color picking tool to "pick" the first colour from the image.
Create a square next to the image and fill that square with the colour you have chosen.
Repeat this again choosing at least 3 colours. This allows you to begin to create your colour-board.
Find your match
From this colour board grab a few colour swatch books and choose the colors which match the squares more closely.
I tend to use one of 3 different paint suppliers:
The three are less toxic and more sustainable than most other paint brands such as dulux, but these may not be available where you are. So do try to get informed on which brands available near you are more natural and less toxin, as the toxins and chemicals will affect your energy field.
Sustainable paints tend to be more expensive, but very often they are richer and better quality, allowing you tu use only 1 coat rather than two.
Remember that the colour will always differ from the swatchboard, mainly because it depends on the level of light in your space. So order a tester pot first, and you may want to test many colours from the same family.
Take your time, the most common mistake people make in choosing colours is to rush it. You can always visit the Pinterest boards and design magazines now, and if you see a colour that closely matches the one you are looking for, write to the source and ask them where it comes from.
Remember to always experiment and be daring. You can always go back to white if it doesn't work out, and truly let what lis in your soul be expressed in your space.
And as usual... ENJOY!