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This author’s flight of fancy addresses the question, “Is our taste for colour based on nurture or nature?”
CONCEPT + INFORMATION + PICTURES: BIRGITTA DE VOS
Is our taste for colour based on nurture or nature? Is it driven by instinct or by all the inputs from where and with whom we live? Let’s first set things straight. I am not a biologist or a researcher; so don’t expect any thorough analysis on this here.
From the fast living mood in the city while making colour cards for each new season I am these days surrounded by the slow rhythm of nature and the colours of the seasons. Instead of window-shopping, animals now pass my window. There are a lot of birds. I do know very little about them. Let alone know their names. With a strong visual orientation I do see birds with the most beautiful and refined colour combinations passing by. From my fashion past I expected these colourful birds to be female. This turned out to be a mistake. Many of the most beautiful coloured birds are male!
This confusion made me review my world. These colourful birds are the opposite of my human friends in the city. I must admit one of my most colourful friends is male, but he is an exception. The most colourful dressed creatures in the city are female. It’s my female friends, even when they are mainly wearing grey or black, that are the ones, painting their faces, wearing jewellery, accessories, dresses, shirts, skirts and shoes in the most wonderful and colourful way. Choosing colour to accentuate their personality and suit their mood. My male friends wear grey, black, dark blue, brown or khaki from top to toe. Real men. Driving in grey, black, dark blue or green cars. Having grey and black accessories. Working in grey and black offices. Living in grey and black interiors. That is the typical male identity in my western world. Most of these male friends are also, if I trust my female friends, colour blind. They don’t seem to notice their partner’s latest new coloured outfit. Coming back to cars. Isn’t it that when a new car is bought, the first thing a woman wants to choose is the colour? Most car designers are male and colour is not the first thing they think about. Colour is a female thing. Car sales are traditionally done for men by men to men, without considering the fact that a lot of buying decisions are made and done by women.
Things are changing however. We are living in a world of transformation. The old economy is not working anymore. Old authorities with grey and black suits didn’t prove to be reliable and taking good care of our (financial) assets. We are entering a digital world, while coming out of the industrial and consumption driven society. Men and women are working from wherever they want.
Footloose. They share what they like. They care about nature. They might be without a job, but they are ready to colour their life without holding back. Nothing to lose and ready to embrace any colour. Choosing the colour that suits them best. No authority to restrict them. No holding back. Free from fear that might have made our life heavy.
My last trip to the Salone del Mobile in Milan was full of colour. Bright coloured chairs, upholstery and accents for the house. Stepping out of restricting fixed conditions of the past. We now have the possibility and the opportunity to choose our own colours. Come and watch with me the feathers of the birds and admire and be inspired by their bright elegant colour combinations. Let nature be your guide. Lighten up our live. Tweet, tweet, tweet.
This masculine, and here I am not taking about men only, a lot of women adopted this way of being, is coming to an end. We will enter a softer society. We will see the female expressed in both men and women and nature (and David Bowie) can guide us here. A being and living together where duality is a play. Not something to fight or compete, but something to embrace.
The strength and the lightness of a feather flying in the wind. Found on the ground. Who doesn’t remember picking up a feather and striking it along the skin to feel the softness.
The bipolar colour shading and changing when it’s turned slightly and the touch of a feather is like velvet.
Fading and grading
The elegant shading and flowing of colour from one colour to the other; strong coloured on the outside with small soft white feathers where it is attached to the body.
Feathers refuse to accept and be run down by water or dirt. Interesting. It refuses to accept the negative.
Doves and swallows are able to fly thousands of miles and return to their nest after days, or months without any problem. Guided by the magnetic field, the wind, the sun and stars? A mystery men is not able to solve yet.
The play of light. Dark and light colours mix. As well as shiny and matte.
Irregular patterns that come back with regularity. A free hand in dots and stripes.