31 July 2010

I still love you Sherwin-Williams

Despite the mixed reception this latest round of color forecasts received, Sherwin-Williams remains my go-to paint brand when it comes to specifying room colors. Their paints are of exceptional quality and the specifying tools they provide me make finding the colors I need a snap. They have been on a real roll on the advertising front lately too. Check out their new TV spot, Bees.

It's the follow up to this gem, Paint Chips Animated.

And just to get a feel for their roots, here's a great one from 1966.

I like the new spot, Bees, even more than I did the original paint chips spot. I think it's the song that makes this one so enjoyable. Anybody know anything about who wrote it and who's performing it?

If you missed this past week's Sherwin-Williams color forecast roundup, I encourage you to go back and give them a look-see. Feel free to weigh in in the comments that follow. And remember, despite how that went, I still love you Sherwin-Williams.

30 July 2010

Sherwin-Williams' 2011 color forecast, part four: the last word

Here's the final palette of the four palettes that made up Sherwin-Williams' 2011 color forecast. I reviewed the previous three on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. To reprise, the palettes are called Bold Invention

Purely Refined,

Gentle Medley

and finally, we come to Restless Nomad. Here's the inspiration image.

Ahhh, finally. Something with some life to it. According to Sherwin-Williams, Restless Nomad can be summed up like this:

Thanks to the Internet, everyone now has a passport to wander the world, soaking up its flavors, images and colors, and stirring them into an eclectic global design stew. Morocco and Turkey are making their presence felt, but there’s no need to stop there. Today’s adventurers feel free to sample from anywhere and everywhere, pairing Persian paisleys with exotic animal skins and Indonesian batiks. Colors, too, wander all over the palette: from dusky darks, to hot vibrant pinks and reds, to earthy food-influenced hues that evoke eggplants and cabbages.
Sherwin-Williams took the following cultural cues to wrap up into this palette. They are:

  • Ethnic patterns
  • Exotic animal skins
  • Aged leather
  • Patchwork and tapestries
  • Moroccan and Turkish influences

I approve of this palette and the influences behind it. I think it's both lively and original. None of this is new, but it's been reinterpreted with a real edge. As with some of these palettes, this palette is broken into primary colors and support colors. The stars of Restless Nomad are:

SW 7602 Indigo Batik

SW 6551 Purple Passage

SW 6300 Burgundy

SW 6395 Alchemy

SW 6109 Hopsack

SW 6840 Exuberant Pink

SW 6354 Armagnac

SW 6691 Glitzy Gold

SW 7663 Monorail Silver

And in a supporting role, I present to you:

SW 6166 Eclipse

SW 6865 Gypsy Red

I wonder if this is the first step toward the rehabilitation of the color burgundy. Hmmm. With that aside, I think they nailed this one. Feel free to disagree if you're so inclined. I like the color mix here, I like the level of saturation and most of all I like the cultural influences they've identified and distilled into this palette. Kelly James there's purple here and Raina Cox they mentioned Morocco so be nice. What do the rest of you guys think? How well did Sherwin-Williams in part four of 2011 color forecast?

29 July 2010

Sherwin-Williams' 2011 color forecast, part three

What follows is the third of four color palettes Sherwin-Williams published recently as a forecast to what they see as emerging trends for next year. I profiled the first one on Tuesday, the second one on Wednesday, feel free to go back and review them.

Sherwin-Williams is calling this third palette Gentle Medley and here's the inspiration image that sums up the palette.

In Sherwin-Williams' own words:

Hard times call for soft colors: the hint of green in a spring leaf bud; the chalky blush of a seashell; the time-etched beauty of a vintage fabric or photograph. Fashion has turned a romantic, nostalgic corner, bringing pastels and parchment-pale neutrals back into the palette. The hues are innocent without being sweet — flirty, yet not feminine. They reflect not just a yearning for youthful innocence and gentler times, but also a refreshing honesty and lack of pretension that are thoroughly modern.
I'm calling this one the Apartment Therapy palette. It's not really a dig so much as it's an observation that this palette's aimed squarely at a youthful demographic that doesn't include me. There's a nostalgia at work here, a nostalgia for a time I remember from having experienced it first hand. As interesting as the 1970s were, they were troubled times and the unfortunate aesthetic sensibilities popular then make me wince when I remember them.

This palette takes the following cues Sherwin-Williams identified as ascendant trends.

  • Vintage florals
  • Dragonfly, butterfly and leaf motifs
  • Mismatched flea-market finds
  • Hand-tinted photos
  • Maps

I'm not seeing this one at all and it pains me to write that. I have a brand loyalty to Sherwin-Williams that won't quit and though this palette hasn't changed that in any way, I can't shake the sense that this is a palette I can't relate to.

Here are the colors. As with yesterday's palette, today's is split into primary and support colors. I'll start with the primaries.

SW 6121 Whole Wheat

SW 6086 Sand Dune

SW 6463 Breaktime

SW 0073 Chartreuse

SW 6353 Chivalry Copper

SW 6442 Supreme Green

And in a supporting role

SW 7743 Mountain Road

SW 7509 Tiki Hut

So, what do you guys make of this one? I'm trying to generate some enthusiasm but it's just not coming. I could see Tuesday's Bold Invention and yesterday's Purely Refined, even if they didn't resonate with me but this one's escaping me all together. I'm not questioning Sherwin-Williams' research and I don't doubt for a second that these colors are an identifiable trend. It's just that they leave me cold. Copper and minty green are an unsettling color combination regardless of time or trend. So who's with me or am I just out of touch?

Mercifully, tomorrow's palette is one I can get behind but I think this one strikes out. How does Sherwin-Williams' Gentle Medley forecast land with you?

28 July 2010

Sherwin-Williams' 2011 color forecast, part two

As I mentioned yesterday, Sherwin-Williams just released its 2011 color forecast. That forecast is broken into four palettes. I profiled the first of the four yesterday and today I'm moving onto the second in the series. The color folks at Sherwin-Williams are calling this one Purely Refined. Here's the inspiration image.

Here's the description in Sherwin-Williams own words:
True luxury doesn't shout its presence with glitz, glamour and bling.  It whispers, revealing its pedigree through clean, classic lines, exquisite tailoring and handcrafted heirloom quality.  Pared down is the new upscale, and its color palette demonstrates similar restraint, filled with understated neutrals, yet with nuances and undertones that interact in intriguing ways.  Layering organic textures and subtle detailing add to the natural elegance of the timeless look.
This looks to be an evolution of the elegant palettes that have evolved from the glam palettes of ten years go. It's almost as if it's a grown up version of yesterday's new palette, Bold Invention. It has a definite retro vibe, but I don't think that's coming from the palette so much as its coming from the inspiration image. I've been saying these inspiration images have been Mad Men-ed and I don't think I'm too far off. I suppose that if there has to be a nostalgic touchstone, at least Mad Men doesn't sugar coat anything.

According to Sherwin-Williams, the driving force behind this palette are the following trends they've identified.
  • Ombre-dyed fabrics
  • Textured linen
  • Concrete
  • Smooth pebble floors
  • Pleated detailing
  • Clean lines, oval shapes
  • One-of-a-kind, artisan-crafted pieces
I can see this more readily than yesterday's, but that might be a function of my not being 25. In any event, here are the colors themselves. They are broken into two sub-palettes, Primary and Supporting. The Primaries are:

SW 6242 Bracing Blue

SW 6164 Svelte Sage

SW 6414 Rice Paddy

SW 0055 Light French Gray

SW 0021 Queen Anne Lilac

SW 6239 Upward

SW 0050 Classic Light Buff

And in the Supporting role,

SW 0012 Empire Gold

SW 7674 Peppercorn

SW 6032 Dutch Cocoa

So what do you guys think? Yesterday's Bold Invention seemed like a hit or miss. How does this compare? How does this one do on its own? Are they onto something?

I'm of two minds with this one. I'm the saturated color guy so naturally I think it's avoiding making a statement. At the same time, I think it looks clean and new. What's the consensus on Sherwin-Williams' 2011 color forecast part two?

27 July 2010

Sherwin-Williams' 2011 color forecast, part one

Sherwin-Williams just released its 2011 color forecast and this year, the forecast is broken into four palettes. I'll be highlighting the first of the four today. Sherwin-Williams titles this one Bold Invention.

In Sherwin-Williams' own words:
The city never sleeps. Neither do its colors. These high-energy hues vibrate with spontaneity and rebellion. Neon bright, graffiti bold and digitally enhanced to 3-D luminosity, they’re the colors of technology, of avant-garde art and of the entrepreneurial spirit that celebrates shaking off dull routine to do what you love. The eclectic global influences range from the Cynical Realism art movement of urban China to the carnaval spirit of Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Anything goes, and self-expression is the new metropolitan mantra.
I'm fascinated by these annual color forecasts. They are not a prescription for the color schemes people are obligated to use or specify of course, but the trend research that goes into them is as exhaustive as it is impartial. This palette and the three that follow are a snapshot of contemporary life and a hedged bet about how things will look in six months.

While not a definitive look at culture, they are fascinating snap shot.

The central image that sums up Sherwin-Williams' Bold Invention is this:

After having read the description above, the image makes sense and definitely gets across the global, experimental nature of the culture shifts it summarizes.

As intriguing as the underpinnings of this trend are, the palette leaves me somewhat cold. Despite its claimed now-ness, it strikes me as a bit nostalgic. I think it's an attractive palette, I just can't see the futuristic nature of it. Here are the colors.

SW 7589 Habanero Chile

SW 6938 Synergy

SW 6947 Tempo Teal

SW 6711 Parakeet

SW 6445 Garden Grove

SW 6963 Sapphire

SW 6800 Something Blue

SW 6696 Quilt Gold

SW 7664 Steely Gray

SW 7036 Accessible Beige

What do you guys think? Am I missing something here? Now that I can see the colors in order I'm beginning to think that maybe it's the inspiration image that's throwing my eye. So, is Sherwin-Williams onto something with this palette from their 2011 color forecast?

26 July 2010

Apple hobbled my iPhone 3G

On June 21st, Apple released its new iPhone operating system, the iOS 4. The new operating system coincided with the release of the iPhone 4. And an enthusiastic public enthused. Some of that public anyway.

I've been an iPhone fanatic since the first iPhone came out way back in 2007. From the start I couldn't believe that I'd finally found an electronic device that made good on every promise it made. In a very short time, that phone became much more than a phone, it was my connection to the world. So long as I had that phone with me, I could work from anywhere. I could manage everything in my life from a piece of electronic wizardry that lived up to the hype surrounding it.

When the 3G came out a year later, I upgraded to it immediately. 2008's 3G surpassed my first iPhone by every measure I could think of. If it were possible to love an electronic device, then that's what I would call what I felt for that phone.

In 2009, Apple released the iPhone 3GS. The 3GS had a video camera, an improved still camera, more memory and more storage. Since the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS used the same operating system, it made more sense to hold onto the year-old phone. I continued to love my 3G, and the operating system Apple developed for the 3GS made my 3G work even better than it did before. I thought that Apple was being forward thinking. Both their new model and their current model reaped the benefits of an operating system upgrade. Who needed a new handset? Mobile phones could improve every year with software upgrades alone. Brilliant.

On 21 June, Apple released the iPhone 4 and the new operating system, the iOS 4 at the same time. All iPhone owners were going to reap the rewards of this new software. Everybody on the train was going to get an improved phone. I still loved my 3G and since the operating system was going to make it even better, why buy a new phone and sign up for another two-year stint with AT&T?

It took three days to get my hands on the iOS 4 upgrade and when I managed to get hold of it, it took three hours to download and install. That was unusual, but it seemed like a small price to pay for all of the improvements I was sure to get.

When I finished the download and restarted my phone, something seemed odd. Most of my apps were missing and all of my photos were nowhere to be found. At first I thought that I had made some kind of a mistake when I followed the steps to run the upgrade. In iPhone speak, it was a restore not an installation. So I restarted my phone. When it came back to life, half of my missing apps reappeared. I restarted it again. This time, another handful of apps reappeared. I repeated the restart routine three more times. After five restarts, I had all my apps back, but my photos seem to have been lost for good.

I still thought that there was something I'd done wrong. After all, Apple surely couldn't have screwed up a software upgrade.

Whatever happened, my beloved iPhone 3G no longer worked with anything approaching the speed and efficiency it once did. I noticed that my battery life had been cut in half. It crashed regularly. It was enragingly slow. After a week I started asking around to see if anybody else was having the trouble I was having.

I was far from alone and my experiences were shared by many iPhone 3G users.

The more I dug, the more I learned that the new iOS 4 was never intended to be run on the the 3G. There was no warning anywhere on Apple's website before I "upgraded" my phone. Apple being Apple, there's no way I can go back and install the old operating system that made my phone work so well. It's almost as if I'm being pressured into buying a new iPhone and along with it, one of AT&T's onerous, new, tiered data plans.

It gets increasingly hard to think of this as a coincidence. Every time that I turn on my GPS and my phone checks my mail instead I start to question the train of planned obsolescence I've been riding since 2007. I used to think that Apple was one of the good guys. They represented value, sharp design and exclusivity. Now I'm beginning to see that I've been duped.

Whether this software problem was planned or accidental, I'm not happy and I'm not alone.

Maybe it's time to look at a Droid.

My friend Eric sent me this over the weekend.

As amusing as that video is, what's not in the least bit amusing is that Apple hobbled my iPhone 3G.

25 July 2010

Relief! I just turned off comment moderation

I am just about back in circulation and I've turned off comment moderation. Feel free to move about the cabin and say what's on your mind.

That was the end of the reruns

I'll be back with fresh, compelling new content bright and early tomorrow morning. In the meantime, don't forget to watch the season premiere of Mad Men tonight. Woo-hoo!

Summer reruns: How do I explain a bidet to a four-year-old?

Lat but not least, no set of reruns would be complete without including what I believe to be my number one traffic generator of all time. It's from 29 March 2009 and here it is again.

Help! My husband, my son and I were over at my cousin's new house last weekend and while we were walking around the master bath and oohing and aahing over the size and decor it was hard not to notice that she had one of those things (I blush when I say the word) next to the toilet. I can't help it, every time I see one they just scream out to me "We have lots of s*x and don't shower afterwards." Anyhow, my four-year-old asked why they had two toilets in the bathroom. I was embarrassed and didn't know what to say, so I told him that there were two so that no one had to wait while the other one finished. He said "nasty" and didn't push it any further. But seriously, what do you tell the kids?
Mother of God woman! Part of me wants to be calm and reassuring but an even bigger part of me want to throttle you. I'm really floored by this. I mean really. What the hell kind of a question is that? Based on your description and your shame-based reaction to it, I'm going to assume what you're talking about is a bidet. There, I said it. Bidet. Repeat after me. Bi-day. See? Nothing happened. It's just a word.

Similarly, a bidet is an object and as such it can't good or bad, it just is. Whatever discomfort you feel about bidets is coming from your own sick mind. Bidets don't scream anything. They can't because they're objects. Sex is another word that's just a word. You might have a better grip on what to tell your son if you could bring yourself to spell out the word sex in an e-mail to a stranger. Similarly, penis, vagina and anus are just words. As words they can't be anything but neutral. As body parts they can't be anything other than morally neutral either. What ever meaning or significance they have, their rightness or wrongness, comes from you. They are also the body parts that get washed in a bidet. See? Simple words describing simple, every day acts. No big deal. No cause for alarm. No sweeping statements about my character for the simple act of describing something.

Your skittishness about spelling out the word sex or even writing the word bidet speak of much larger issues you have about your body, other people's bodies and the biological functions those bodies perform. For the sake of your son, please talk to somebody about this stuff. You owe it to him and more importantly, you owe it to yourself. How can you expect to be an effective parent if you can't call things what they are?

So to answer your question, "what do you tell the kids?" The answer is the truth. Tell them the truth about this and about everything else. Rather than making up a lie and getting the response you got (which by the way is the seed of your neuroses taking root in a new generation --good job!), you could have told him something as simple as "some people wash themselves in a bidet." That way, you could have called a thing what it is and you could have told him the truth at the same time. If it led to more questions, then you could have answered them. Truthfully. Pretty simple stuff, really.

And while we're on the subject of the truth, people do use bidets to clean themselves. Really. That's all they're for. Having one doesn't say anything, because it can't. It's a thing if you remember, and things don't talk. So do me a favor if you haven't already stopped reading. The next time you're in the presence of a bidet, climb on board. The Pause that Refreshes will take on a whole new layer of meaning, believe me.

24 July 2010

Summer rerun: Pottery Barn doesn't sell Wabi-Sabi

This post ran originally on 3 December 2008.

So last week those kids over at Apartment Therapy ran a piece hailing the arrival of what they were calling the Wabi Sabi style of decorating. Ugh. Here's the photo they used to illustrate this "new" style.

It looks sterile and affectedly rustic, sort of a pared down Scabby Chic. There's nothing Wabi Sabi about those photos.

So what's Wabi Sabi? Wabi Sabi is a Japanese philosophy, it's not a style. It's purposefully un-chic and anti-trendy. Wabi Sabi is a uniquely Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature. It accepts and appreciates the natural cycles of growth, decay and death. It's simple, slow, uncluttered and it reveres authenticity above all else. And THAT is not for sale in a catalog or at the mall.

Now that Feng Shui has run its course as an Asian idea that could be appropriated to sell candles and knick knacks, I suppose the tastemakers out there are hunting for a new one to take its place. Not so fast I say. Feng Shui, while it was an aesthetic school of thought, was also an animist belief system. Embracing Feng Shui makes sense to me if you are ethnically Chinese, but if it's not your culture then it's a pose --you'll always be an outsider looking in. Sorry.

Wabi Sabi presents a similar problem but even more so. Wabi Sabi is an outgrowth of Zen Buddhism and carries with it all of the cultural trappings of Japan. I find a lot about Japanese culture that's fascinating and worth looking at more closely. Reading about Zen, or Wabi Sabi for that matter is interesting because like a lot of Eastern Thought, it runs in diametric opposition to the ideas that undergird the West. I can read about it, I can think about it, I can bring parts of it into my life, but it can never be fully mine. 

I love how Japanese pottery looks. Its rustic and imperfect finishes are an exercise in studied imperfection. I'm fascinated by it and when I look at a Japanese tea set I can appreciate its beauty. But I'll never fully grasp the cultural history behind it so I let it be an interesting and beautiful piece of pottery and leave it at that.

In many parts of the world, things that are American are cool. And sorry George Bush, it's not because they envy our "freedom." What they envy is the sophistication all things American represent. They may hate our bullying foreign policy, but they admire our pop culture. If you ever find yourself in a non-English speaking part of the world, pay attention to the T-shirts people wear. 

I remember spending a couple of days poking around in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica some years ago. At one point, I was sitting alone in a cafe and watching Costa Rica reveal itself to me. The woman who waited on me was a Russian transplant who spoke Russian-accented Spanish which was wild. I'd never heard Spanish spoken quite the way she spoke it. Through a combination of my American-accented Spanish and her Russian version of it, we could understand one another. I wanted to hear how on earth she ended up in Puerto Limon, but she wasn't interested in talking about Russia or Costa Rica for that matter. It was kind of odd, but I'm flexible, I'd survive if I didn't hear her story. However, what I couldn't help but to notice was that she was wearing a T-shirt that read "Blonde Cool Bitch in Hollywood!" Now this woman didn't speak English and probably didn't know what her T-shirt said. But her point wasn't to have it make sense. Her point wasn't to call herself a blond bitch. The point she was trying to make was that she was westernized and sophisticated. But it was a pose. 

No sophisticated westerner would be caught dead in something like that. The story of a Russian woman who emigrates to Costa Rica and waits on tables must be fascinating. I kept trying to pry it out of her, but she kept discounting her own experiences and instead wanted to talk about American TV shows. I gave up eventually. Adopting the cultural trappings of a culture you don't understand doesn't make any sense to me and it seems like a waste of energy. You also end up being a poseur, and that's never a good thing.

What's the point of all of this? Well the point is that finding an $1800 table with a distressed finish isn't Wabi Sabi despite what you may read in a magazine.

Try this if you want to get closer to the spirit of Wabi Sabi.

Not really, but it's a lot closer to the spirit of Wabi Sabi.

If you want to bring some Wabi Sabi influences into your home and life, running out and buying a bunch of crap isn't the way to do it. Instead, take care of the things you own and let them grow old under your care. The scratched up kitchen table your family's gathered around for 20 years has a story to tell, your story. Common sense and sentimentality will tell you to hold onto it and you should --you don't need an ill-informed decorating trend to tell you that. Should someone tell you that your old table is Wabi Sabi, you have my permission to call them a "Blonde Cool Bitch in Hollywood!"