Friday, October 15, 2010

Chakras in Interiors?

Not only is color therapy (rooted in Chinese medicine and ancient Indian Ayurveda) now being used in interiors to promote health and wellbeing, "chroma therapy," associated with the seven chakras of the body, is now being incorporated in the latest steam baths and showers.

Mr. Steam's ChromaSteam combines steam therapy with color and aroma therapy, focusing on each of the body’s chakras along with its associated color and healing properties. The body has seven major chakras, or energy centers, and each is associated with a color from the visual light spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (ROYGBIV). Each chakra not only corresponds to a specific color and area of the body, but to a healing property as well. In this way, color (“chroma therapy”) is used to address physical ailments. Below are the seven chakras and their associated properties.

RED: Located at the base of the spine, this chakra is associated with vitality, energy, strength, vigor and sexuality. Exposure to this color is thought to improve circulation and stimulate red blood cell production.

ORANGE: Located just below the navel, this chakra is associated with passion, confidence and enthusiasm. Citrus fruits (also orange-y in hue) are known for their antibacterial properties, therefore orange is thought to aid in easing digestive discomfort, as well as congestion problems and dry skin.

YELLOW: This chakra is located behind the stomach as is associated with intellect, communication, wisdom and clarity. This color is also thought to have antibacterial and decongestant properties.

GREEN: Located in the middle of the chest (and the middle of the color spectrum) green is associated with the heart, hope, healing, compassion and growth. Furthermore, because of its place in the center of the color spectrum, green is the easiest on the eyes, therefore it is also associated with harmony and balance. Ayurvedic practitioners use the balance associated with the color green to treat ulcers, which may result from imbalances in the body's acidic or Ph levels. Green is also considered an antiseptic.

BLUE: Because of its location at the base of the throat, this chakra is associated with self-expression, communication and knowledge, as well as creativity. Blue has long been associated with peace, loyalty and truth. Blue is thought to eliminate toxins and is used to treat liver disorders and jaundice.

INDIGO: Located at the center of the forehead, this chakra is associated with intuition. Therefore indigo, or violet, can be used to stimulate creative intuition. Because blue hues are associated with tranquility, blue is considered calming and may be helpful in controlling bleeding.

VIOLET: Located above the head is the highest chakra, associated with spiritual connection, the inner voice, transcendence and bliss. Violet promotes spirituality and is used to soothe organs, relax muscles and calm the nervous system.

To learn more about how Mr. Steam's ChromaSteam System combines color therapy and aromatic oils to respond to and ease your physical and emotional ailments, see:

For more on Ayurveda and color therapy see:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interiors Inform Fashion?

[PLEASE NOTE: This blog entry starts where the last entry left off, with the emergence of a new trend in interior paint color.]

So why now, out of the blue (or perhaps I should say “black”), are we advised to start painting everything ebony—and worse, with a matte finish? My question was answered in a recent WGSN trend seminar I attended forecasting upcoming trends for 2011/2012. Though the primary focus of the seminar was, of course, fashion, so inextricably linked are design trends these days that my observation over the past year (working as a rep. in the fashion and textile industry) has been the simultaneous and mutual influence of fashion and interior design on each other. And what is becoming even more common is that interiors are now informing, influencing, and yes, even leading fashion trends at times.

In fact, nearly every “Macro Trend” presented by WGSN began with inspirational images taken from the natural world, the industrial world, and of course, the interior design world. In light of my darkening confusion (pun intended) over matte black making a splash, the macro trend that caught my attention was “faux real” movement. This direction delights in making the real look fake. It challenges our assumptions by bringing unexpected proportion and color to the forefront. It pushes traditional boundaries, and one element of this macro trend is “unnatural or enhanced color.” This encompasses matte finishes, especially for black, and primers and undercoats. The inspirational image for this trend was that of a black primered Rolls Royce. (Enter matte black paint.)

Based on the forecast, matte will become the new finish of choice. And like the futuristic, arid-looking Rolls Royce, luxury will cease to be defined by perfect polish, waxy finishes, and high-gloss sheen, and will be redefined by a more dusty, earthy and urban veneer. High class and style will take on a new meaning—moving from the polished to the unrefined. So, whether it’s the finish on your vehicle, or the paint on your walls, tomorrow’s luxury topcoat is predicted to be the unrefined, or “unfinished,” finish.

That being said, my best advice for black paint comes from my high school art teacher. “Never use all-black paint,” she used to say. “It comes across as ‘dead.’ Always add a little color.” So my suggestion for dabbling in the dark side is to use aubergine, midnight, deep hunter and dark chocolate hues to bring black back to life. And as far as matte finish is concerned, I leave you with the words of a true master. Billy Baldwin once said: “Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style…An honest room is always up to date.”

Black is Back?

I was a little taken back recently when I read an article touting the emergence of black in interiors—not just as an accent, but everywhere—permeating, even saturating both commercial and residential spaces: black furniture, black cabinetry, black walls and ceilings. The photos, the praise, and the publicity for designers implementing these inky and ebony hues made it seem as though the ghoulish, haunted-mansion stereotype were suddenly in vogue. But what shocked me even more was the advice for the application of such paint color: “use a flat finish” and “painting a space black will make it seem larger and more expansive.”

This advice goes against everything I have ever learned about black paint and dark wall color. Haven’t we all been told that darker value colors make things appear smaller? (Isn’t that why the little black dress is so flattering?) And aren’t lighter colors meant to make a ceiling appear higher, while a dark color makes it appear lower? And a flat finish?! Hasn’t the advice always been (at least since Billy Baldwin lacquered brown walls) to use a high or semi-gloss for dark wall color to maximize the reflective light throughout the room?

If Baldwin’s shiny chocolate-brown walls exemplify a well-done dark interior, let’s compare a less appealing, more modern example that follows the new advice. Take for instance, Kelly Wearstler’s coffin-like boutique hotel, Maison 140. This already tiny bed-and-breakfast becomes a claustrophobic cave with matte black walls.