Powder Pink: The evolution from a timeless classic to a trend

a guest contribution by Dr. Hildegard Kalthegener

In the last few years, lasting until today, much has been discussed about a strongly polarising colour: some still regard powdered pink as a naive little girl's colour; others see it as a contemporary expression of zeitgeist in interior design, which is not only about using colourful wall painting, but also reflects a complete idea of living. Reason enough to deepen the current debate and to question whether Millenial Pink really should be taken seriously.

In the historical colour palette of Le Corbusier, there are three nuances in the range between delicate pastel pink and old rose, but centuries or millennia ago, the red, purple or brightening colours already had an outstanding cultural significance. Purple was the colour of power, worn by emperors and cardinals. Anyone who has read Asterix knows Caesar in his purple coat. The precious dye was won since about the middle of the second millennium BC. from purple snails. And, according to various sources, thousands of these animals were needed to make just one gram of the coveted dye. Later, however, the production of purple (though by far not so light-fast) of cochineal or kermes lice, with which textiles were dyed, was not quite as elaborate. Then, since the 19th century, almost all dyes were gradually chemically produced and thus became globally available. Pink was initially popular as a "little red" for boys, but for many it seemed stronger and more active than the blue Maria paint, which used to be a pastel for little girls. The gender-specific assignment of colours changed around 1920, when powder pink was used more and more frequently for little girls, in contrast to the then emerging blue work clothes and navy uniforms.


That's how it is today and until further notice. For some years now, rosa has also been used as a marketing-oriented eye-catcher in various varieties, and it's not just the first preference for many cute little girls, but in general a colour people talk about. Normann Copenhagen’s 2017 showroom with Pink Power has been seen in every single professional publication for example: not only the furniture, but also the floor, walls, carpets and accessories were monochrome in strong, but not shocking pink. The hype surrounding Wes Anderson's film Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) might have been inspired by this, as well as the Sketch Gallery in London, which India Mahdavi, architect and designer from Paris, also set up in 2014 with sensational nuances of powder pink. The velvet armchairs, specially designed for the cafe, are reminiscent of sugared spoon biscuit, and she also chose pink for leather sofas, stucco ceilings, and walls in striking contrast to the black-and-white and dark green mosaic of the marble floor. As a metallic addition, we find here brass, and on the walls are, close to black and white, finely framed sketches arranged at eye level, so that the quantity of pink impressed us, but not kills. Millenial Pink, as the powdery pink is sometimes called, is the colour of a whole generation. It is less a Barbie pink than a muted shade with a hefty splash of beige or New Nude (= skin or flesh colour), as it has great success as a CI colour of the Swedish fashion and life style company Acne. And still the popularity of the powder pink of the millennium does not seem to abate. A few weeks ago, Gucci opened a pop-up shop in the Selfridges Department Store in London as the Millennial Pink Paradise, which will continue to attract customers until January 2019. The Breadway Bakery, which is currently open in Odessa, Ukraine, and the Patisserie NANAN in Wroclaw will be delighted with soft pink, whose style is already described in the Architectural Digest as Wes Anderson Style.

But powder pink is not only a very good choice for public places, it also a good element when it comes to retreat and private life. Although rare, it can also be found on the kitchen front in the consumer area, as well as on the Oona blanket by Norman Copenhagen or the Scylla armchair in the used look of Leolux, a creative high-end upholstered furniture manufacturer from the Netherlands. As a furnishing idea for the interior design, a contrasted wall (feature wall) in old rose produced the desired effect, and in combination with a durable, gray couch in front of it, it would not look too feminine. A wall can be repainted quickly, so appealing for an experiment, but those who are really sure may even invest in a chair or a sofa in Millennial Pink, which would make a particularly good contrast to the rough concrete of a lofty industrial-style loft apartment, while majestic reds, purples and Bordeaux are active colours and can sometimes constrict the room; poudry pink looks softer, more delicate and more reserved. However, if you strike it completely flat on all four walls of a room facing south, it will perhaps radiate more powerfully than expected inside the room and almost embrace, if not crush, the user.

«It is less a Barbie pink than a muted shade with a hefty splash of beige or New Nude.  » 

- Dr. Hildegard Kalthegener, Colour expert -


Le Corbusier has also integrated different variants of powder pink into his collection Architectural Polychromy, with a total of 63 colours, that have proven themselves in his painting and architecture. Originally, the great master chose his timeless nuances for the Swiss wallpaper manufacturer Salubra in order to be able to access reliable standards with the "colours from the roll" and not have to rethink, discuss and mix for each project. His 32102 rose clair could be described as a timeless old rose, a tone of great topicality until today, behaving actively and easily combinable with gray, a true classic with white frames and oak parquet. The 32091 rose pâle is a whitening of the 32102 rose claire – a very fine, slightly grayish whitish pink that would be perfect for retreating into the room of little and grown-up girls, without even remotely remembering icing or closing the room out. The 32111 l'ocre rouge moyen contains, as the name implies, a touch of ocher, it is the strongest, warmest and most active of the three nuances mentioned here. In the living room, in a hotel foyer or perhaps in a classroom, it would have a strong, meaningful liaison with off-white and 4320U gris foncé 59 (dark gray) or even 4320T bleu outremer foncé (dark blue). The Casa Fayette Hotel in Gualadajara, Mexico, has a similar effect. It is a traditional 1940's hotel reinterpreted with a progressive approach by Dimore Studio, the stars of the Milan interior design scene, carefully redesigned and refreshed in colours that really can touch. Of course, it may take a bit of courage to apply a nuance of the unfamiliar powder pink to one or another element in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or living room. However, the three notes described are true classics that can not only completely reinterpret the vintage look and never become boring, but that also have withstood every trend for decades and are therefore of great relevance today, tomorrow and the day after, and will continue to be.


Text © Dr.Hildegard Kalthegener 


Photography Copyright

Breadway Bakery ©Mikhail Lustokov
Sketch Gallery London ©India Mahdavi
Bisazza tiles and chair ©India Mahdavi
NANAN Patisserie ©PION Basia Kuligowska, Przemysław Nieciecki
Casa Fayette Hotel ©Yellowtrace | Dimore Studio
Mini Bag ©ACNE Studios
Chair ©Leolux


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