Tangerine Tango: Folk Art

by Keith Recker

Tangerine Tango has struck designers and design critics as a distinctly contemporary way of energizing ourselves, of embracing the seductive and passionate side of our nature as we move into a new cycle of creativity and productivity. But red-oranges are not only contemporary; they also play a prominent role in traditional cultures around the world.

Amidst the yellow-orange robes of Theravada novice monks of Southeast Asia, an occasional red-orange robe will appear – often worn by an elder monk.

Judy Espinar

In India, red-orange appears in a celebratory context. When Pantone asked to talk traditional tangerines with Judy Espinar, co-founder of the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market – an event which brings over 150 folk art masters to Santa Fe each year to sell their wares to approximately 25,000 visitors – she immediately thought of phulkhari embroidery from India: “My friend Linda Troynak has a beautiful selection of Indian cloths at the Museum of International Folk Art gift shop in Santa Fe. The tangerine and pink combinations are gorgeous.”

Phulkari, which means “flower work,” is a colorful Punjabi embroidery tradition of garments for festive occasions – particularly weddings. Red is the bride’s color, and the gorgeous red-oranges and pinks of many phulkari textiles harmonize well with the bride’s attire. “The palette of India can be so beautifully saturated with color,” adds Espinar. “If you’re thirsty for tangerine, that’s one place to find it.”

Mexico is another place she recommends: “Traditional Mexican houses are painted in a very wide range of bold colors, and I especially love to see a tangerine house next to a red-hot orange house, next to a mid-range turquoise house. I’ve always loved bold color, and Mexico makes me fall in love with it all over again.”

Espinar confesses that she lives surrounded by Tangerine Tango: “I live a tangerine life here in New Mexico, complete with a red-orange living room and office. The color lights me up. It compliments my complexion and fires up my personality. It makes a gorgeous setting for my folk ceramics collection, too.”


Will there be tangerine at the 2012 Santa Fe International Folk Market? Judy hopes so. “Last year there were Huichol yarn art pieces from Mexico and beaded bracelets from Kenya. I am sure I will find something!” she says with enthusiasm.

For more information on the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, see www.folkartmarket.org.

Photo credits:
Textile shots: Linda Troynak
Interior shots: Peter Vitale
Bracelets and Huichol yarn art: Keith Recker

Keith Recker is the co-author of Pantone The 20th Century in Color available from Pantone.com.

  • http://www.prowestmediaconcepts.com/ Patricia

    Love this color and showing its use in exciting display of color!