Usually I get the sense of a design direction on a new project from the space itself and in talking to the clients about what their needs are. Left to my own devices, however, I find that any number of things can influence a design concept….
Recently I found myself gravitating toward black and white stripes; they were popping out at me in shots of interiors and in some of my favorite photographs. A quote of Nicky Haslam’s, “That violet looks terrific with black and white,” popped up in my head; he’s so great with those quotes! Before I knew it I was lost in my paint sample library searching for wonderful shades of that gorgeous, mysterious, and happy color. Next I thought that a vibrant and opulent red might also read nicely against the black and white idea. Photos and swatches started piling up on my bulletin board; staring at them I wondered where did this concept come from? Then I remembered a Christmas gift from my friend, Stephen Westfall, the novel “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern. He kept looking at me and saying “it’s so YOU…” Once I started it I could hardly put it down, I absolutely loved it. I won’t spoil the plot (such as it is!) but it’s about a surrealistic circus that travels the world without a set schedule and only opens at night. Two extraordinary magicians are engaged in a contest within this setting and, well, I won’t say more than that. The circus tents are classic black and white stripes, and they provide a dramatic backdrop for a series of vivid adventures.
Deciding whether violet or red should rule on this imaginary black and white stage can be resolved by using both; one or the other can be a contrasting welt on a stunning sofa (see image in upper right corner). If the tones relate, it works.