We hope you are not feeling blue, but if you do, we’ll try to cheer you up a bit. How? With some interior décor ideas and facts about probably the most intriguing and desired color on the planet Earth – blue.
People usually take blue for granted since nowadays it can be found absolutely everywhere. We have blue furniture, blue accessories, blue clothing, and even blue food is not such a rarity anymore. All shades and tints of blue, varying in intensity and depth, are patiently waiting for the fussiest of clients. Nothing but to pick and choose, right? But, trust my words, it was not always so. The same can be said about the fashion for blue throughout the ages which can be compared to a giant swing, moving from the absolute appreciation to the total disregard and back. So what is so special about this, after all, primary color?
Sit back and listen to the not-so-blue tale by Doris Leslie Blau.
IN SEARCH OF TRUE BLUE
Have you noticed how rarely the blue color appears in nature? Of course, we perceive the sky and the sea as blue, however it is caused by a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering (physics guys, physics), not by the actual pigmentation. The same applies to blue eyes – there is no pigment in them! When it comes to obtaining color, you need something more solid than just an optical illusion. Something like, for instance, lapis lazuli. For more than three thousand years this semi-precious stone has been valued for its intense deep blue hue (also known as ‘Persian blue’) and exported from the Afghanistan and Persia mines to all parts of the ancient world.
It was then transformed into all kinds of luxury goods, such as jewelry and vessels in Iran and Mesopotamia. Persian blue played a major role Islamic culture, being the second most important color after green (which supposedly was the favorite color of the Prophet Mohammed). Therefore, if you’re familiar with Oriental art and architecture, you must have noticed the extensive use of blue in the design of mosques and palaces.
To spice up your interior and give it this Oriental vibe, try using some Persian blue! It is also a perfect choice for all the boho-lovers out there. Paint your walls deep blue, hang up openwork lamps, put out orange accessories – orange and gold are just perfect for blue – and see how your room changes into a Moorish palace!
PAINT LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
Lapis is also a part of the famous Egyptian King Tutankhamun’s funeral mask, where it serves as eye surrounds and eyebrows. Why so frugally? Well, the cost of importing this exceptional stone by caravan across the desert from Afghanistan to Egypt was tremendous. It pushed the Egyptians, who associated blue with divinity and were determined to keep their sacred color in use, to create the first synthetic pigment. Yes, you’ve heard it right, the first synthetic pigment ever was made some millennia ago of silica, lime, copper and alkali. The Egyptians called it “hsbd-iryt”, which can be translated as “artificial lapis lazuli”. We call it simply ‘Egyptian blue’.
Doris Leslie Blau oriental inspired rug
This pleasant-to-the-eye tint is not very deep or intense, it can rather be described as a pastel light blue color. The secret of making Egyptian blue survived throughout the Romani Era, after which is has been forgotten. Nowadays, light blue is extremely popular, especially in female-oriented décor (or baby-shower parties, when a boy is on the way, hence the name for baby blue). It gives the interior a delicate touch, making it look spacious, especially when combined with white. How about a pastel blue carpet? Fill your interior with this historic color and walk like an Egyptian!
SWINGING OF THE BLUES
History, particularly the history of fashion, is a funny thing. It always comes full circle and definitely likes to repeat itself. With respect to the color blue it was no different. In the early Middle Ages, blue played minor role in art, architecture and fashion, mostly due to the perennial difficulty of obtaining it. It was perceived as the color of the poverty who wore blue clothes, colored with poor-quality dyes made from the woad plant. It was the same source of blue which the Celts, the Picts and other northern-European tribes used to paint their faces, beard and cloths with to scare the hell out of Romans. It was considered barbaric and generally uncivilized. The fate of blue changed in the first half of the 12th century, when the French abbot called Suger rebuilt the Saint Denis Basilica and installed there stained glass windows colored with cobalt.
Doris Leslie Blau Eskayel rug
The church became the marvel of the Christian world, and the color of light passing through the cobalt glass earned the name of the “bleu de Saint Denis”. It fully shows the irony of history because cobalt compounds have been used for centuries to impart a deep blue color to glass, glazes and ceramics by the Egyptians, Persians, Romans and especially Chinese. Nevertheless, the Christian Europe rediscovered cobalt and soon every important church had to have rich-blue stained glass windows.
Presently, a stained glass window is an extravagance, but if you are crazy about design, why not? It will fill your interior with an unmatched atmosphere of tranquility and dignity. As a safer, yet equally timeless solution we recommend cobalt accessories, especially deep blue wine glasses, ashtrays or flower vases. Maybe you will be able to put your hands on genuine cobalt Chinese ceramics? If you do, don’t hesitate even for a slightest moment – they are definitely worth their price.
THE COLOR FROM BEYOND THE SEA
The 12th century turned out to be incredibly gracious to blue because it was then when another, perhaps the most important invention made its big appearance – ultramarine. It was a pigment made from the good old lapis lazuli. The mines were even visited by the famous Marco Polo, who reported on “a high mountain from which they extract the finest and most beautiful of blues.” Again, ground lapis was used in Byzantium as early as the 6th century, but it was impure and varied greatly in color. Only after a long, tiresome refining process, which literally took ages to develop, ultramarine acquired its remarkable quality resulting in rich, deep blue. It will not come as a surprise when we reveal it was also super expensive.
This immediately drew the attention of the Roman Catholic Church, which dictated that from that moment on, the gowns of the Virgin Mary were to be painted exclusively with ultramarine. From the color of barbarians and the poor, blue escalated to the highest rank, turning into a symbol of holiness and virtue. Its English name comes from the French “bleu outremer” , which means “blue from the other side of the sea”.