Tuesday, July 11, 2006
On my walk with the dog Monday evening, I was looking at the full moon and felt inspired enough to write a poem (for another post). It came about because I was looking at the color of the moon, trying to determine the exact shade. And as I thought of that, I thought of names of paint colors, and nail polish shades, and wondered "Who comes up with them?"
And not for the first time I decided that I want to become an official name-caller.... I want to be one of those people who thinks up these illustrious and innovative names for up-and-coming shades of paints and cosmetics.
"Color naming in fashion and paint exploits the subjectiveness and emotional context of words and their associations. This is particularly seen in the naming of paint chips (samples) where paint is sold. This may in fact be an aid to moving a customer through the store more rapidly, as closely similar shades may be equally vailid in a specific application, with selection being determined by individual preference, colors of furnishings and artwork, and the quality and character of light, both artificial and natural. The attachment of an emotional context to a color sample by choice of name may enhance the rapidity of selection.
In fashion and automotive colors the objective of naming is to enhance the perception of color through apropriate naming to fit the emotional context desired. Thus the same "poppy yellow" can become either the hot blooded and active "amber rage", the cozy and peaceful "late afternoon sunshine", or the wealth evoking "sierra gold".
I discovered a list of 1970s Behr Paint palette names and wondered at many of them. Although creative, the names don't always even give a hint as to what color family the shade is part of.
1970s Color Palette
Dry Sea Grass
It's amazing to think that people get paid to sit and think, and think, and think and come up with these names. And I have to tell you, throughout time, there have been many households having domestic disputes about paint shades, paint names and what they represent, and lots of "Don't you dare put that mustard color on the walls!" or "Cotton candy pink? This ain't a baby's nursery, this is a dining room!" or "If you paint this bedroom that shade of regal purple, so help me, I won't be sharing this bed with you any more!" (the wife grins broadly at her husband's outburst, happily plotting to reclaim the queen-size bed now that he's made his announcement)
I am especially impressed with OPI cosmetics, and their use of color names, specifically their nail polish collections. An example is above; it's their Italy collection. I've been equally impressed with the NY collection and the Chicago collection. But can you just imagine the scenario as a brainstorming meeting gets underway at OPI...
A boardroom has a large table with several people sitting around it. On the table are English and foreign-language dictionaries, a thesaurus, an atlas, lots of scribble pads and pens, random color photos, and the Internet is hooked up at several computer stations, just waiting to be used if necessary.
"Okay, people. There's lots of work to do. We need a new collection for Winter 2008, and we need ideas, names, big concepts. Sandra, this time it's you. Cover your eyes with one hand and with the other open up that atlas, flip through the pages and pick one. That country you pick will be the new collection."
Sandra happily does as Derek says, and comes up with SWTZERLAND.
"Perfect, Sandra...seeing as it is a winter collection we're working on. Okay, people, start thinking..."
And they come up with: (maybe I should TM these ideas of mine)
Bern, Baby, Bern (deep red shade)
Fondue 4 Fun (brown shade)
Swiss Miss Magic (cream shade)
Come Blow Your Alphorn (yellow shade)
Zany Zurich (silver shade)
Bahnhofstrasse Boogie (copper shade)
So, OPI, if you happen to stumble across this little blog of mine, consider my offer to become a "name-caller" for you. I love wordplay, I have creative ideas and I'm a colorful character. And if that's not enough for you, I've just designed your new Winter 2008 collection: Switzerland: It's a Matter of the Matterhorn.