5 posts categorized "film"

February 08, 2011

Inspiration: Downton Abbey on PBS Masterpiece

Movies and TV shows can be a great inspiration for color. Let's face it--an art director was on the job, making sure every hue, every piece of furniture, every flower set exactly the right tone.  Think of the pastel-crazy sets (and outfits) on Miami Vice; Rhoda’s fuchsia studio on Mary Tyler Moore; Rene Zelwiger’s pink and white pad in Down With Love; the austere, Nordic palette of Woody Allen’s Interiors; the blazing reds and golds of Bertolucci's Last Emperor.

For the last couple of months, Downton Abbey, a modern-day Upstairs, Downstairs set in 1912 in an Edwardian country house. It's the story of the lives of the Crawley family and their staff, filmed in a castle in Hampshire, England, and filled with a top-notch cast of characters.  Taking place when it does, it's partially about new attitudes--the servants want better lives, women loosen their corsets and talk about the vote, and telephones are all the rage.

While the Victorian era was cluttered and masculine, with deep reds, forest greens, and often excessive ornamentation, the Edwardian age saw fresher, lighter colors, less decoration, and a more feminine bent.  Pastels predominated, fresh flowers were used liberally, and the feeling was generally less stuffy and formal.  Take a look at a few of our favorite rooms from Downton, matched with colors mostly from Benjamin Moore's Historical Colors.



Southfield Green HC-129; Beacon Hill Damask HC-2

This shot, from the opening credits, nicely demonstrates chromatic themes that occur throughout the series--the use of pastel colors on the walls, pale drapes, and sunlight.  The rooms are not exactly "bright" in the modern sense as there are still plenty of shadowy areas, but the pale wall colors deepen beautifully in the depths, becoming jewel-like there.



Paladian Blue HC-144; Lancaster Whitewash HC-174

A scene between Cora, Countess of Grantham, her daughters, and her ever-looming mother-in-law, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played to the hilt by Dame Maggie Smith. The dowager’s heavy dress, giant hats, and prim attitudes mean she acts as a lingering Victorian presence. At one point, she asks, in all seriousness, “What is a weekend?”, and shields her eyes from the newfangled electric lighting. This drawing room has beautiful pale greenish aqua wallpaper and rosy cream (and gold) trim.




Wickham Gray HC-171; Kendall Charcoal HC-166

Two views of the kitchen that, while a bit gloomy (certainly for the staff), has a tailored and handsome gray and charcoal palette.  Here we see housemaid Gwen (above), who has ambitions of becoming a secretary, and William, the second footman (below), his heart breaking with unrequited desire for Daisy, a kitchen maid. With a bit more sunlight, this room (and their lives) would be nicer.



Odessa Pink HC-59

The kind-hearted Anna, the Head Housemaid, who falls for the Head Valet (it's a period Peyton Place), in one of her ladyship's rooms.  The colors of the bedrooms are pastels, but not child-like, each just slightly dusty and muted. 



Hawthorne Yellow HC-4; Georgian Green HC-115; Valley Forge Brown HC-74

Mrs. O'Brien, a Lady’s Maid, and Thomas, the First Footman, scheming (as they always seem to be doing) in a stairwell.  The hallways of the staff quarters and back stairs all have this clever tri-tone pattern of yellow, green, and brown.  It's a bit like wainscoting but without the expense and installation headaches.



Marlboro Blue HC-153

The Earl and Countess of Grantham in her bedroom. She's pregnant, and it could be a boy.  The plot thickens.



Inner Glow 348; Hathaway Peach HC-53

The lady of the house in a particularly bright drawing room.  The wallpaper is vivid yellow and most of the furnishings a dusky peach.  As everywhere, there is abundant use of gold trim, which glints in the sunlight.

We'd like to know your favorite movie- or tv-inspired color palettes.  Let us know what's inspired you on screen and if you've ever translated the colors into your own home.

By the way, the full, unedited original British version of Downton Abbey is available on iTunes.  And stay tuned for the upcoming second season--we can't wait!

October 07, 2010

Franc D'Ambrosio, The Painter at ArtHaus in San Francisco

There's a wonderful gallery in San Francisco, ArtHaus, with a fabulous philosophy when it comes to their color choices.  If you think they must just paint it all white because it's a gallery, you couldn't be more colorfully wrong! 

ArtHaus 1 

Colorful views of the gallery in the past 

James Bacchi and Annette Schutz, gallerists and owners of ArtHaus, shared with me the colorful interior choices  they always embrace.  The current show which just opened today is no exception.

Franc Dambrosio

Franc D'Ambrosio, The Painter highlights the work of the named artist who is very well known on stage and on the screen already.  Francis Ford Coppola is a fan.  He cast him as Anthony Corleone (the opera singing son of Al Pacino's character) in "Godfather III".  Franc went on to the stage as the lead role in Phantom of the Opera.  He is known as the "Iron Man of the Mask" and is touted as the world's longest running Phantom.

When it comes to being a painter, he says "I began painting exactly the same way I began singing.  One day I didn't do it, and the next day I did.  The act of painting rose from a very spiritual time for me, and I cherish this gift.  I paint just as I strive to live:  Fearlessly."

The gallery chose colors inspired by his work and the changing of the seasons.  Their paint of choice is Benjamin Moore.  A gallery that uses such vivid colors as Festive Orange, by definition, needs walls that are durable, quickly painted, and that will mirror the quality of the art on the walls! 

I'll be at a celebration for Franc in a few weeks and can't wait to see the art and the space in person.  If you're in San Francisco, take advantage of this unique show and a very unique gallery, ArtHaus.

Colors for this show are incredible and I hear they played with satin finishes, too.  I can't wait to see them and Franc's work in person!

Colors gallery walls franc dambrosio
 Who says art has to be hung on a white wall, anyway?

And the locals are loving this contemporary approach to gallery space in SoMa.  They were voted best gallery for 2010 by BayList 

January 01, 2010

New Year's Resolutions and Their Design Solutions in 2010

Need a little help with your resolutions? 

What does Jamie Drake have to say about having fun?  What has Judith Miller learned about the past through antiques?  What does Halle Berry's trainer, Ramona Braganza, think about fitness?  What can Kenneth Brown do to help improve your relationship? 

These are just a few of our design experts.  Check out www.tendesigndays.com for the roster of experts ready to help you plan the new year!

Have you seen www.tendesigndays.com for the list of all of our experts and resolutions? 


New Years Resolution


The countdown of great New Year Resolutions starts Monday, January 4th!

December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution Countdown

Ten Icon

Ten...nine...eight...seven...six...five...four...three...two...one...Happy New Year 2010!

May 08, 2009

Ancient Stories Told By Color

Just in time for the weekend.  I remember the film Hero- it's one of the most impactful movies I've ever experienced around color. Yes, it was THAT powerful. I believe that color can help you tell a story. This film by Zhang Yimou takes that idea to a new place. (It's a foreign film with subtitles, so watch it when you're ready to read a little) The story is told through flashbacks from various character perspectives.  Not only is each person's story different, but each one's story saturates the screen with a different hue.  You'll see amazing colors like a lotus flower (571), blazing orange (2011-20), and a clearest ocean blue (2064-40). Check out the clip below to get a glimpse. 

If you love color as much as I do, I think you'll enjoy the artistry and imagination found in this film.  If you're in the New York area and want to celebrate Color and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), also check out the Peking Opera Mask Workshop this weekend.  Learn about the meanings behind the patterns and colors of these traditional masks and create a masterpiece of your own.  It's a fun event for any age!

Peking Opera Mask Workshop