MADEWELL MINI-TOUR: THE COLOUR STORE STUDIO

We’re big fans of great color (as recently evidenced by our Afternoon Dress) so when someone offers up a fresh approach to our favorite hues, we’ve got to stop and give them a shout-out.

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The Colour Store is worthy of such a nod. A concise collection of small sculptural works hand-painted by NYC-based Canadian artist Shannon Harvey, The Colour Store puts iconic mid-century hues—and their incredibly rich heritage—in the spotlight.

While it doesn’t take an art history major to appreciate Harvey’s wood-frame panels, painted cubes and other object d’art, there’s a textbook-sized amount of history behind each hue she selects. (Take Bauhaus yellow, a surprisingly green-tinged shade that was used throughout the Bauhaus complex in Dessau, Germany.)

Intrigued, we paid Harvey a visit in her Lower East Side home/studio to find out more about the rainbow of references that inspires her.

WHERE SHE STARTS:

“Researching color and looking at historical photographs, books and manuals, etc., is largely a black-and-white experience. When I started to discover just how colorful the spaces of these mid-century architectural masterpieces were in reality, and just how much was lost in the translation of history, I wanted to bring a little bit of that history back to life.”

FOR EXAMPLE…

“The architect Le Corbusier had an incredible sense of color. The Carpenter Center at Harvard is his only building in North America and it’s full of bold reds, blues and greens. It’s one of the clearest examples I’ve seen of how color can change the appearance of the shape of a room.”

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THE BEST WAY TO LET THE LIGHT IN:

“My favorite color is Naples yellow, a very warm shade that was painted under the eaves at the Bauhaus to bounce light in through the windows. It looks and feels like the sun.”

ON HER OWN SENSE OF COLOR:

When it comes to getting dressed, Harvey tends to stick to neutrals like grey, gold, navy and black. “Maybe because I’m so particular about color, I find it hard to wear—but I love to see it on everyone else!”

NOW, BEFORE YOU TRY TO D.I.Y. …

Keep in mind you can’t find these iconic hues at any old paint store: Harvey creates them herself, using the original mid-century ingredients and techniques that require mixing a case in binder with lime, water and pigments, then carefully matching the color to historical color cards and recipes. The result is a thick paint with a chalky texture that gives the surface a sense of depth and that can’t be reproduced any other way.

Liking these smart pops of color? Find Harvey’s pieces at The Colour Store and on Etsy.

[Photos by Emily Johnston]