Let’s view the World through rose-tinted glasses…

Pink has been embraced as a political colour, especially for women, although formally it isn’t a colour per se: it is a tint of red.  Firstly, the pink ribbon became internationally synonymous with the global fight against breast cancer.  Much later, it was used most historically in the Women's March on Washington back in 2017, where they wore pink hand knitted pussy hats as a symbol of disruption – a symbol of activism and change - their goal was to tell the world that women's rights are human rights.  When we cast our minds back to that fateful day in November 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated, First Lady Jackie Kennedy wore her iconic pink suit, made by the New York dress studio Chez Ninon – it was a replica of a Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat (up until that time First Ladies had only been permitted to wear American designers’ creations).  The First Lady showed her rebellious streak, when after Kennedy’s assassination she refused to change out of her blood-stained outfit, on the flight back to Washington DC, saying that everyone should see what had been done to her husband.  Other examples of pink used in a political context were in 2005 during the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, there was also the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, and again we saw it during the Pink Front in Israel in 2020.  Political pink is likely to be one of the most powerful colours of the 21st Century. 

Le Corbusier incorporated three pinks into his collections: from the 1931 Collection, we have 32091 rose pale and 32102 rose clair whilst in his 1959 collection there is the 4320C rose vif.  If we touch on coral pinks and peach pinks then we could also include 32111 l’ocre rouge moyen and possibly even 32122 terre sienna Claire 31.  Both of these colours are orange-pink in colour, they are warmer, softer, feel more earthy and have a predominantly orange hue to them; but used with the pinks, they create a warm and somewhat calming and comfortable ambience. 

Pink is generally considered to represent love, be non-threatening, thought of as being empowering, embrace our sense of nurturing and have an overall calming effect.  It is undoubtedly a seductive colour – since it is a blend of red and white, possessing passionate and pure leanings, but more demure than its red cousin.  It’s also a mood regulator, but undoubtedly needs to be used in moderation, if used in excess, it can sometimes be physically draining.  In 1970s America, a research scientist called Alexander Schauss, had been studying human responses to the colour pink, and he worked closely with two Naval officers to use Baker-Miller pink (named after both officers), at a Corrections Centre in Washington State, and later it was used in prisons throughout the USA.  Intriguingly, it was believed that Baker-Miller Pink made the inmates less aggressive.  Schauss believed that the pink was in fact a phenomenon which affected the endocrine system, which caused a tranquilizing effect on the muscle system, believing that the effect couldn’t be controlled by conscious or unconscious effort. Much later investigation couldn’t validate Schauss’ belief, but by then pink was omnipresent. 

The pink craze became something of a pop-culture phenomenon.  Famously, Elvis Presley’s favourite car was a pink 1955 Fleetwood Cadillac; pink bathroom suites were very much en vogue;  and pink was fashionable in most types of clothing, furniture and home décor.  Today, this non-threatening colour symbolises adventure, excitement, vigour and self-assurance.  The New York Times selected a hue almost identical to 4320C rose vif for the linen cover of its latest TASCHEN publication: The New York Times Explorer: 100 Trips Around the World.  The cover alone fills the reader with anticipation and excitement for what lies within, so whether its simply voyeuristic travel or as a planning tool for future adventures, the cover achieves its attention-grabbing goal of making one want to just dive in.   

Wes Anderson's lush use of colour in his films is notably intriguing; he enjoys using bright palettes and when we look at pink, The Grand Budapest Hotel immediately comes to mind.  Not only is hotel’s façade a delicious tint of pink, even the confectionary boxes housing the deliciously sculptural Courtesan au Chocolat are a Baker-Miller tint of pink, from the fictious Mendl Bakery.  The film blurs the line between fact and fantasy and Anderson’s use of pink during one of the four parts of the film portrays a fantastical image of opulence and luxury, through the use of pinks and yellows, despite the reality of what is happening in the World outside. If Anderson had only used pinks, and not used with a triadic golden yellow, then through excessive use of pink, we would begin to feel its adverse effects.   Anderson also used colour cleverly in the costumes – dressing the key protagonists in bright colours.  It’s interesting how colour psychology principles have been utilized throughout the film, using pink to create an ambience of nurturing, caring and empathy, almost as a form of escapism from reality.

As we know, all of the 63 colours in Le Corbusier’s Architectural Polychromy derived from nature, and his pinks are no exceptions: think sunrises, sunsets, flora and fauna, pink features constantly in nature, and as such, it is a most versatile tint to use in a multitude of scenarios.  Used in interiors, it can be easily paired with other colours creating a sophisticated and enduring palette.  When used in a monochromatic scheme, the palette can range from pale pink tints to darker shades of pink and magenta; if we add black to read, instead of pink we achieve a dark maroon, which could also balance nicely a monochromatic pink palette.  Pink’s complementary colour would be a pale green: visualise it in nature in Spring’s natural cherry blossom.   For an analogous pink scheme – ie incorporating colours either side of pink, we experience red and mauve (remembering that pink doesn’t strictly feature on the colour wheel.  Talking triadic schemes using pink, these would be pink, blue and a golden yellow.

The long association that pink has femininity connotations is curious under closer examination.  Historically, pink became especially chic in Europe during the mid 18th Century, pale pink tints were considered a symbol of luxury, worn by men and women.  In fact, it was more popular as boys’ clothing than girls, as it was perceived as a paler tint of red which was connected to mens’ scarlet military uniforms.  Today’s pinks are

In summary, use pink with pride and know that it’s not only pretty and passionate, it’s also political and powerful: a colour which is versatile, timeless, draws the eye, and adds a pop of interest to most designs.  Pink is no longer considered only feminine, it now also commands the respect of feminists.  Don’t delay any longer, join the movement and think pink!

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