Interior designers have gone wild for pinks warmth, while Pantone has made Rose Quartz one of its colours of the year
Is it a boudoir or a candy box? Since it was revamped in 2012, the Gallery gastro-brasserie at Sketch, in London, has garnered numerous awards. Restaurant & Bar Design picked it as best in the UK in 2015 and it features in Time Out magazines Love Londons selection for Mayfair.
The gourmet menu served by French chef Pierre Gagnaire is likely one reason for this acclaim. But the astonishing decor, worthy of some Disney-esque fantasy, created by Paris-based interior designer India Mahdavi, is certainly another. Known for her audacious colour codes, she opted to do almost everything in Hollywood pink, the better to show off David Shrigleys 239 satirical drawings, which line the restaurants walls.
Thats right: nothing but pale pink, even for the bar stools and velvet seats. This would prompt many to turn tail and run, rather than cavort in such a universe. Not at all, says Mahdavi, seated in one of her own ribbed armchairs, mimicking the boudoir biscuits on a strawberry charlotte.
My idea was to design a pretty setting, with scrumptious fittings. These days, with things being difficult, we need plenty of hugs, warmth and comforting, she adds.
Our contemporaries, trapped in an increasingly digital world, need to titillate their senses by touching, tasting, smelling and seeing, Mahdavi explains. Her latest collection of furnishings is on show in the shop adjoining her studio on Rue Las Casas in Paris.
Mahdavi was born in Tehran, of a Persian father and Egyptian mother, and grew up in the US, Germany and France. She has designed the Caf Franais at Bastille and left-bank restaurant Le Germain, both in Paris. Initially she mainly used contrasting hues. At the Gallery, in London, she has preferred solid colours, with bubbles of harmonious shapes, punctuated by graphic elements, as if they had been pencilled in, such as cake-like sofas, marshmallow armchairs and bonbon cushions and all in pink.
Sometimes you need to simplify things for them to make sense, Mahdavi asserts.
She may be on to something. X-Rite subsidiary Pantone, the renowned authority on colour and provider of colour systems, has made Rose Quartz and Serenity [a pale blue] its colours of the year for 2016 (after reddy-brown, almost earthy Marsala in 2015). A hue once set aside for kids rooms now features on French designer Inga Semps Ruch armchair and sofas, Vik wool-upholstered ash chairs by Thibault Desombre, comfy Ploum sofas by the Bouroullec brothers, and even the late Pierre Paulins Pumpkin pouf, all at modern furniture company Ligne Roset. Nor have walls and floors withstood this tide of rose, to judge by the Butterfly design Mahdavi has hatched for the Bisazza Cement Tiles collection. In a similar vein artist Han Feng has come up with a pink carpet for high-end maker Tai Pings Edition One.
Meanwhile French paint brand 1825 has launched a product line featuring several pinks. But not all shades of light red are in vogue, according to Pantone. Rose Quartz is slightly translucid, like rock, persuasive yet gentle conveying compassion and a sense of composure, says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.
French specialist in medieval history Michel Pastoureau dislikes half-colours of uncertain identity, holding that pink is a recent invention.
The Latin word rosa was only used in reference to the flower; incarnatus, or flesh-coloured, was preferred. Rose, as in pink, came to the fore in French during the 18th century, surfing on Romanticism. It was at this point, Pastoureau suggests, that the hue came to symbolise tenderness and femininity, as a watered down version of red, stripped of its warlike connotations, and gentleness (as in seeing life through rose-coloured glasses). But here, too, is its schmaltzy downside.
The perception of colour is a global affair and in many places blue and pink have no gender connotation, Eiseman explains.
It relates to the most widely shared experience in the world, the chromatic imprint of clear skies and radiant sun rises. Its all we need to see la vie en rose.
This article appeared in Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from Le Monde