• Carrin Robertson

Design: Colourful Conversations

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

I’ve been doing a little bit of adventuring this week, but I still find the little, subtler things to write about interesting, especially around design and aesthetics. It's why I'm here and what I'm most passionate about.

There is something really satisfying about creating something simple. Complex designs can be beautiful of course, but there is something I love about a simple selection of colour combinations. Effortless design, based around colour, texture and pattern.

I’m spoiled with colours here in Guatemala- there is an abundance of it.

The town of Santa Catarina Palopo, I drove through in the back of a pick up truck, has every single building painted in gorgeous patterns. Even the graveyards are painted in colour; I’m looking forward to spending Day of the Dead here, seeing the colourful kites flown in celebration and remembrance of life. The city of Antigua, where I’ve been a regular visitor to now- is filled with colour. The sky at dawn and sunset is gloriously tonal from all views.

I’ve even retired my usual all-black uniform, so its pretty clear that my surroundings are inspiring (plus have been asked if I was mourning).

Cushion Cover, UPAVIM

I love the colours of these fabrics from San Martin that we have turned into cushions, they were the first ones that stood out to me here at UPAVIM. The different shades of purple in a geometric pattern as a simple colour block. The symbols are interesting- two long-tailed birds facing each other with a sun shape between the repetition. Suns, birds and geometry are featured so much in Mayan fabric-weaving. We've designed four colourways- a similar pattern in greens and blues as well (see my instgram for this) with a sun in traditional yellow and orange, and a white star between the birds. Hidden symbols and simple colours with the fabrics themselves tell a story.

The bird is an often used symbol in Mayan culture- lots of peacocks, quetzals, hummingbirds, turkeys and hens. According to the Popol Vuh, the Sun God turned himself into a hummingbird whilst flirting with the Moon Goddess, hovering around her whilst she was weaving in a tobacco field. What a story!

Something else that I find really interesting is, how the threads are dyed with natural plant-based dyes. Apparently, the colours vary depending on when in the lunar cycle the plants have been picked. I don’t know much about the science around this, but of course I like the idea of the moon’s influence ;)

I wanted to make cushions, they're one of those simple pieces of home decor that can update a tired sofa with and it can be so easy to add a little interest, and a little story with soft furnishings and accessories. A spot to rest your head and have a little daytime nap. Adding some long soft tassels to the corners in complimenting colours using silky threads makes it a little more special. Bright and beautiful cushions- a small colour palette with discreet invisible zips.

La Esquina, Antigua

I love colour- I can’t say I have a favourite one, I find that a weird question, as it depends on what its for, but recently I’ve had many interesting conversations recently around colour. Of course colour affects sales, but I’m really beginning to see what colours mean in different cultures and countries. In different parts of the world, especially stateside there seem to be strong preferences. A dislike for a particular colour I find slightly unusual, but I guess it happens in sports fans all the time. Yellow hasn't much of a fan base it seems. I quite like it myself.

“Mustard is a beautiful colour.

Look how it sits with this lilac, people need some mustard on that shit.”

Names of colours, perceptions of colours, colours in different languages has been discussed for centuries amongst anthropologists. Some cultures don’t even have words for colours, there’s even a Pacific island where one in ten people are as Colourblind as Darius.

Maroon to me is a reddish-brown, autumnal colour. In Guatemalan Spanish Maroon translates as “Corinto” which is brownish red with a hint of purple- which I would call burgundy. Marron however is straight up brown in Spanish- but brown in my building in La Esperanza is cafe. So you can see where things can get lost, designing outside of my native language can be interesting at times, constantly learning but being there in person helps. It seems that the word Pantone means little at the moment, but there is a curiosity, like Pantone is the name of a mythical creature.

The colour of my eyes is often commented on- so far they’ve ben described as sky-blue, green and grey. One of my colleagues said that when she was a little girl, she thought all people with blue eyes could only see in shades of blue.

(Of a turquoise door)

"I love that colour: Seafoam"

"But seafoam is a dirty white"

"Whatever, I would lick that colour"


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