Whether working in busy urban studios or quiet countryside spaces, there’s no denying that makers and creators remain an integral part of Ireland’s culture and workforce. From painted canvas and chiseled stone to woven tapestries and hand-sewn clothing, the art of the handmade item is alive and well.
In fact, General Paints Group is telling the story of what it means to craft and create in Ireland in the only way it knows how: through color.
The company’s new Curator collection features 144 unique paint colors developed and sourced from artists who focus their creative endeavors in Ireland. The palette presents everything from neutral hues that speak to the quiet woodlands of West Cork to bolder shades that evoke the country’s strength and spunk.
“From the very beginning, we wanted to make a collection that was authentic, special and genuine,” says Rachel O’Connor, expert director for General Paints Group and one of the developers of the Curator brand. “[The artists] all had colors that really meant something to them and inspired their work. And for a lot of their work, their muse was Ireland and our lovely landscape.”
O’Connor, who is also heading up Curator’s U.S. presence, says that develop-ing and sourcing the palette was a nearly ﬁve-year journey. After extensive searching, the team worked with 29 Irish designers and artisans to discover the history and heritage behind the colors that inspired them. Although the concept of the palette changed along the way, O’Connor says the goal of capturing “the passion they bring into their work” remained a driving force
O’Connor, who is part of the third generation of General Paints Group’s 65-year history, also points to her company’s own entrepreneurial spirit as part of the collection’s inspiration.
“We’ve always had an admiration for artists and craftspeople. Many are solo entrepreneurs who are doing what they love. We worked with a broad range of artists — potters, millers, sculptors — and although they’re all different, they had one thing in common, and that was color,” she says.
O’Connor speaks fondly of the stories within the pigment and describes some of the bolder colors in the palette. There’s Ancient Black, inspired from the creations of sculptor Ronnie Graham. O’Connor describes the lore of this deep, moody color as “haunting and mystical.”
“[Ronnie] works with what’s called buried oak — it’s oak that’s been buried in a bog for thousands and thousands of years. During the preservation process it turns a beautiful charcoal color,” O’Connor says. “Ronnie believes it emits a mystical power — and he tries to capture that in his sculptures. Interestingly, it’s been one of the most popular colors in our market.”
The Curator collection was intentionally designed to easily discover and combine complementary shades. Here, Ancient Black is paired with Kerr’s Pink and Rose Mantel.
O’Connor also suggests the colors can be used seasonally — such as on flower boxes and planters, furniture or even doors; she describes charming Irish neighborhoods with bright pink, turquoise and other colors adorning the front doors of homes. “But we don’t like to be too prescriptive. There’s no such thing as a wrong color combination,” she adds.
Even the palette’s more traditional hues have a story that is anything but. Horseshoe, for example, is a stone-gray shade, aptly named for Horseshoe Mountain in County Sligo, Ireland, that inspires pottery artist John Ryan.
O’Connor’s personal favorite paint is also bright and bold: Running Tides, a bril-liant aquamarine unique to the seascape paintings of Irish artist Carol Cronin, who has captured the Atlantic Ocean on canvas for decades. (“You might think you could get bored of painting waves, but [her works] are stunning,” O’Connor says.) These brighter, livelier shades off er the “pop of color” that O’Connor sees throughout the commercial interior design market.
“People are starting to be less afraid of taking risks with pops of color. We’re seeing a lot of restaurants, hotels and public spaces take bolder risks. We think it’s a great trend,” she says.
The collection boasts shades like Pulled Rhubarb, Tailored Tweed and Dried Kelp (painted on chairs left to right) that ad richness and depth to ordinary spaces.
“[Ryan] is immersed in the landscape surrounding his workshop, and it inspires these stunning creations,” O’Connor says of the potter’s handmade ceramics. “The color really shines through in his work.”
The collection made its U.S. debut ear-lier this spring in Connecticut and arrives on the West Coast in the fall, including southern California, Portland, Oregon; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Seattle.
Ultimately, the collection aims to not only honor these artists, but to inspire others to use color to express creativity and passion, says O’Connor. And in a way, that allows the consumer to play curator and tell their own story.
“The collection [is a] showcase of Irish craft and talent, but it goes beyond that,” O’Connor explains. “I think home is deeply personal to people. You want it to reﬂect your identity and personal style. When you bring a color into your home, you’re looking for more than just paint. In our collection, every color has a meaning and personality. [It’s] allowing the customers to be their own curator.”
All photos and featured photo courtesy of General Paints Group / Curator.
All photos courtesy Furniture Choice Ltd.
The color green symbolizes life, renewal, harmony and growth and is set to steal the limelight for the year ahead. With people getting busier and the increase of screen time for work, this calming color is a gentle nudge to unwind and rejuvenate.
Reminiscent of nature and the outdoors, using green in the home also serves as a reminder to be more eco-friendly and sustainable where possible.
Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice Ltd., shares 4 ways to bring this color into the home.
Use green as a feature wall color
Serene and soothing, green makes for a great feature wall color. From darker shades like emerald green to brighter hues like apple green, the color offers many psychological benefits. These include helping to induce relaxation and serenity, as well as giving off feelings of optimism and growth.
Because of its benefits, this color and its many shades can be applied to many different rooms.
For example, home offices can benefit from a green feature wall as it helps soothe tired eyes. Similarly, sage green is a relaxing color that’s perfect for a bedroom feature wall, as it creates a calm and airy atmosphere that’s lighthearted and uplifting.
Some other accessories and textures to consider are jute, leafy plants and candles for relaxation. And where there are windows, choose sheer white curtains to allow sunlight in while maintaining some level of privacy. “The natural light will also cast a lovely glow on the sage green wall and give the color a little pop,” Snowden says.
Pastels are the perfect lighter alternative
On the pastel front, neo mint is set to be very fashionable in 2020. “It’s young, fresh, energetic – great for pairing with an equally sunny color like coral,” says Snowden. “Brighten up a small space or designate separate functional areas by way of color blocked walls.”
Balance the boldness of neo mint walls with simple, neutral furniture like a white bed. Select furniture with slim legs and clean silhouettes to achieve a clean look. Alternatively, layer on rugs and cushions within the same palette for a maximalist approach.
Statements pieces are key
Make a statement for the new year and invest in larger green pieces, such as an elegant green velvet sofa. The sumptuous material enhances the richness of an emerald green and adds depth to a space. To those anxious to make such a bold choice, Snowden notes that “a green velvet sofa is easier to pull off than you might think. It is incredibly chic and luxurious yet laid back enough to suit most interiors.”
Style with brass finished planters or side tables for a lavish look, or matching dark wood furniture for something classic and cosy. “Bold yet versatile, a green velvet sofa is easy to dress for the seasons and set to become a talking point of the home,” she says.
Houseplants are a designer’s best friend
Live green plants are the best accessories for decorating the home in shades of green. Some help clean the air and release more oxygen for easier breathing while others bear fruit for eating. Mix and match plants of different green shades for depth and interest in the home.
“Leafy, trailing plants inject a little wildness for an urban jungle feel while demure little succulents are adorable and easy to manage,” Snowden notes. “Plants are quick additions to the home that make a big impact on our wellbeing – a big focus for 2020.”
No matter the lifestyle, wellness and the pursuit to live better has been a rising trend in today’s world. In 2018, Pinterest reported that searches for “self care” were up 140 percent year-over-year, with no mention of stopping. Recently surveyed by national paint brand Sherwin-Williams, homeowners and professional interior designers have also noticed this uptick in wellness and how it affects modern home design and décor. Looking to make your spaces “healthier”? Check out these recent trends to see how you can incorporate wellness into your home styling.
Self-Caring for Your Space
People are taking self-care beyond their body and into interiors. According to the survey, nearly 42 percent of designers say they have been asked to incorporate self-care into their designs. Twenty-nine percent of homeowners also take self-care into consideration when decorating their home.
The most popular way to bring wellness into a space also happens to be one of the easiest — natural light. Eighty-seven percent of designers use natural light to effortlessly reflect wellness.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova
Breathe It In
Improving indoor air quality is key for homeowners and designers looking to make changes. Over 54 percent of homeowners cite air quality as away they bring wellness into their homes, and 58 percent of designers use it as a tool to incorporate wellness.
Limiting volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that are released through building materials is one of the best ways to improve air quality. This is done by using lower-VOC paints and other home improvement products that are sustainably sourced and have a low-carbon footprint.
Photo by Anamul Rezwan.
When it comes to color, designers and homeowners do not see eye to eye on their top color choice that represents or stimulates wellness. Nearly 41 percent of designers say that green associates the most with wellness, whereas 34 percent of homeowners believe this color to be blue. Another popular color is white/gray, which 11 percent of designers and 18 percent of homeowners associate with the trend.
The color least likely to be associated with wellness? Red. Not a single designer and only 1 percent of homeowners reported that they associate this hue with wellness.
Photo by Pixabay.
In regard to specific spaces that are designed to promote wellness, homeowners different on their choice of which space was the best to achieve “total zen.” The top choices included a gym/fitness room (41 percent), a reading room (41 percent), and a greenhouse (38 percent). These choices differed from designers, who say that the most popular wellness rooms they’ve been asked to design in the past year include a reading room, a sauna/spa, a gym/fitness room, or a meditation room.
No matter the space, these insights into the wellness trends of today may better help you to find the wellness you crave from the comfort of your own home.
Photo by KatjaFiona.