Colour has long been central to Margrethe Odgaard’s design philosophy. When the Danish designer isn’t working on projects for the likes of Hay, Muuto and Kvadrat, she is conducting her own research into the sensory qualities of colour and the effect it has on both the body and mind.
In an early exploration of the concept, Odgaard created the Popsicle Index, with the aim to create a colour index that had an immediate appeal to the senses. The system comprises 520 individually mixed and painted popsicle sticks in meticulously selected hues, designed to be combined in complementary groupings to inform Odgaard’s design decisions.
The making of the Ply Rug for Muuto
Several years later, Odgaard released her colour diaries. During her travels in Japan, New York, Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, Odgaard painted colour groupings that she encountered in her surroundings.
Compiled in location-specific diaries, each diary entry is formed of three colours, referring to the harmonic set of three notes found in a musical chord. Working intuitively, Odgaard was compelled to use hues that she found appealing or intriguing while also exploring whether they bore any evidence of the country’s underlying culture.
As Odgaard explains:
“These colour schemes could be seen as evidence of choices, behind which there had to be traces of tradition and culture. The question is, to what degree do cultural preferences influence what we consider good colour combinations? And what makes some combinations catch the eye more than others?”
This dedication and sensitivity to colour is evident throughout Odgaard's body of work, particularly when paired with the inherent warmth of textile. The designer's Ply Rug for Muuto showcases a subtle blend of colours and texture, creating a sensory effect on the surface of the rug.
Indeed, textile is a sympathetic medium for designers driven to explore the use of colour. For Farah Ebrahimi of e15 furniture, the creation of the Kavir Rug was a way to introduce bold tones in a modern and flexible way. Available in 9 adventurous pairings, from the 'perfect' shade of taupe with mustard coloured fringe to hunter green accented with espresso brown, the rich tones that the designer favours bring a joyfulness to a traditional knotted carpet style.
The Kavir Rug from e15 furniture
Like Odgaard, Scholten and Baijings find their colour inspiration in nature, executing their ideas in a surprising and experimental way. As Carole Baijings says:
"Even the brightest flowers are never vulgar. There’s a perfection in nature that we aim to achieve in our work."
Known for their pops of yellow, pink and blue that appear across their designs, their fluency with colour sets them apart in a more muted design landscape. Colour is considered not as an afterthought, but as the starting point of every project, with the Dutch duo mixing colours specifically for each one.
The outcome of this approach is often a refreshing take on familiar forms, exemplified by their Colour Wood range for Karimoku New Standard. Comprising a series of tables, chairs and stools, traditional Japanese craft references are infused with bold lines of colour, contrasted with understated wood stains and graphic patterns. This unique layering not only seeks balance but pushes boundaries, questioning our preconceptions of the 'rules' of colour combining.
At a period in time where for many, monochrome is synonymous with modern, these designers don't see their work in black and white. While their projects are vast and varied, they are united in their use of colour as one of their greatest design tools.
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