Paint and the love of colour

Notes on paint and colour

May 1, 2024

We are often asked by people on the specific colours we use in our projects. For example the particular shade of green used in the New Institute project in Hamburg – Germany. This beautiful home bar is painted in Farrow and Ball and the incredible effect of the paint opacity and colour is particular to our own closely guarded finishing expertise and process.

Elegant home bar in a green room with a curved counter and arched, mirrored shelving stocked with various liquor bottles, glassware, and topped with floral arrangements and fruit bowls.

Plate 1: The beautiful green interior at The New Institute in Hamburg

Notes on paint colours however are broader than process and green has a particularly interesting history. Whilst most people know green is not one of the three primary colours but a combination of blue and yellow, the colour is often considered unlucky. If you were wondering why, read on.

Green as an interior paint was not readily available before the 1700’s – after which the mining of copper and its bi-product arsenite became more widely available. As the name suggests, early pigments of this colour were in fact poisonous. Discovered by Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1775, the cheap production of green became known as Scheele’s green and its discovery turned whole interiors – from wallpaper to curtains, green. As the pigments became widespread so did the inhalation of arsenic from the chemical compounds in the paints. Even Napoleon allegedly succumbed after covering his walls on St Helena in green.

William Morris was also a keen supporter of the colour but despite owning shares in the copper mines, was forced to stop promoting it when the effects became known. Of course modern pigments have removed all traces of such toxins but the legacy of ill luck remains tied to the colour.

Not so unlucky is yellow – a bold and increasingly popular choice for interiors – especially kitchens. The original artists colour, yellow can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt where yellow ochre pigments were used in lieu of gold.

A cozy kitchen with yellow cabinetry, black countertops, and decorative plates above. a wooden table, bowl of fruit, and a hint of a red chair are visible.

Plate 2: This charming guest house kitchen celebrates the optimism of yellow

As such, colour theory relating to the aesthetics of tones also of course relates closely to mood – a key element in the composition of rooms and schemes for interiors. Yellow for example signifies hope and optimism and in line with its artistic history is alleged to free the creative mind. The impact of colour on the mood as well as the aesthetic is of course closely studied by Artichoke’s interior design teams.

For a look at the colours we use please keep an eye on Instagram or browse the projects on this site. As for green, thank your lucky stars you can apply it risk free.