Yellow's big comeback // Interview with Sophie Hélène, colour specialist
Ignored for years, yellow is making a comeback. "Maybe it's because yellow is the colour of light", explained Sophie Hélène. This colour specialist sheds light on this trend!
When did yellow make it back into the limelight?
Not that long ago especially if we're talking about primary yellow. However, classic vanillas, which fall within the yellow palette, are still very popular. However, mango and sunflower yellows had totally disappeared from colour palettes.
How is it used in interior decoration?
It's replacing anise green, fresh fig green and absinthe shades as it offers more luminosity and warmth.
What does this colour evoke: life, light, the future, hope...?
Symbolic, basic and primary, it makes us think of bright sunshine and is easily incorporated into avant-garde architectural design especially as it is associated with Bauhaus. But it's not lemon yellow, it's a little warmer.
What's its function: to brighten, energise, warm... ?
All of the above! It can also be used to structure spaces. When used in panels contrasted with white walls, it draws your attention to this space. Walls painted yellow energise and enhance furniture and when it's added in touches it immediately gives a contemporary feel to a room.
The trend is to pair yellow with grey, how should we interpret this?
This colour combination harks back to the 1970s. But fashion has also revived this colour combination to energise grey and add a touch of fantasy. Here we tend to use yellow in design to subtly enhance grey. It adds a touch of modern cosiness. For example, a simple yellow cushion placed on a flannel armchair or on a dark leather Chesterfield sofa adds a touch of light.
What shades of yellow are on trend?
Well, at the moment there's two shades. Primary yellow, which is extremely intense and a more refined vanilla yellow - toned down with a touch of sepia - which looks fantastic when applied as gloss paint. It harks back to old gloss paint and can be used on all woodwork if you are looking to achieve a classic, stylish and cosy look - it's just a tiny bit British...
Which yellows are riding high and how can we use them?
Lemon yellow can be fun as long as it's only used to add touches of colour: furniture (chairs and console tables), soft furnishings (cushions, throws, in printed fabrics, etc.). Although, it tends not to work on walls. Ochres have somewhat disappeared from classic paint ranges. However, they are still popular in natural lime-based paints but they have changed becoming darker or even more acid. These shades work really well in walk-in showers as an alternative to grey. Naturally warm colours such as linen or wheat work really well when paired with earthy colours, smoky greys and plant greens. A Hopper inspired palette, with a nod to the 50s and highlighted with touches of reds and dark blues.
What do you recommend using these with?
At the moment, I would use yellow with other materials. Yellow with raw, blackened or lacquered steel and vintage colours (green, red, orange, blue, black and white). Yellow goes with all types of wood: untreated, waxed, dark and grey woods but also with chrome and smoked glass. It also goes really well with dark textiles for a quirky yet sophisticated look or with highly colourful fabrics when used as a colour block to create a young, upbeat and multi-coloured atmosphere.
After graduating from the Beaux-Arts de Toulouse and obtaining an advanced degree in Applied Arts in textile design from ENSAAMA - Ecole Olivier de Serres, Sophie Hélène now works as a colourist as well as designing for the textile industry and publishing arts and crafts books. As well as creating colours for over twelve years she is an expert at deciphering the latest colour trends.