Alexa Boschini

Color Correction

April 5, 2013

Before I started working at Home Accents Today, blue was blue and green was green. Maybe something was light pink or dark red. My color vocabulary was limited at best.

After being continually exposed to the design-driven world of home décor, I see life in a spectrum of citron and celadon, tangerine and terra cotta, amethyst and aubergine. This change in perspective was reinforced recently during a repeat viewing of the seminal Hollywood classic The Devil Wears Prada.

For those unfamiliar with the film, it follows recent Northwestern grad Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) who, after struggling to find a journalism job in New York, lands a position at the Vogue-esque Runway magazine as an assistant to Editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), a ruthless and intimidating woman who's basically power personified, in stilettos.

During a scene in which Miranda debates which belt a model will wear for a cover shoot, Andy scoffs at the amount of time the decision is taking when both belts look the same to her. Miranda takes the opportunity to school Andy on her helpless lack of fashion sense, pointing out how design influences our everyday lives right down to Andy's chunky blue sweater:

"What you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean. You're also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic ‘casual corner' where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room."

I used to sympathize with poor Andy and her chagrin, but this time I found myself thinking, "You're right, Meryl! That sweater IS cerulean! Anne's got a lot to learn!"

The point of this little anecdote is that while I used to be as ignorant to the significance of color selection as Andy, this job has given me a new appreciation for it. When I look at a rug or a pillow or an upholstered chair, I don't just think, "Oh, how pretty!" but I think about why the designer chose that specific color palette. What does a deep mulberry bring that a lighter shade wouldn't? What is the designer trying to convey by pairing crisp gray with sunny yellow? Every hue is deliberately applied.

For the April issue of Home Accents Today, I wrote my first color forecast. I examine four palettes we expect to be prevalent in home décor in 2014 and, most importantly, the inspirations behind them. From economic recovery to cultural heritage, a host of factors will contribute to color in 2014.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing the colors on display at the upcoming High Point Market and hearing about your own inspirations. Consider it the next chapter in my color education.