The Wrath of GrapeOn the problem with purple.

Issue 52

, Starters

,
  • Words Ali Morris
  • Photo Eric Chakeen

Issue 52

, Starters

,
  • Words Ali Morris
  • Photo Eric Chakeen

( 1 ) David Hicks' eclectic approach to design caught the eye of director Stanley Kubrick, who used the “Hicks Hexagon" pattern for the carpet of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

In ancient Rome, the color purple was made using a natural dye derived from a gland of a particular species of sea snail found in the Mediterranean. Thousands were needed to produce even a tiny amount of the dye, making it the most precious commodity traded in the Roman Empire. As a result, the use of Tyrian purple, as it was known, was limited to rulers and royalty—the emperor Nero went so far as to execute anyone wearing it without authorization. 

Psychics have long associated purple with the supernatural, believing those with violet auras to be particularly spiritual, wise and artistic, and the color is important in various Christian traditions. But despite its symbolism, the color has had something of a PR problem in recent decades. Its appearance in fashion and interior design has been almost as rare as it is in nature, and when it is used, it’s often perceived as “daring” or labeled “unusual.” 

Curiously, unlike most colors, purple does not have its own wavelength on the spectrum of visible light. “Purple only exists in our heads,” explains textile designer and color consultant Harriet Wallace-Jones. “Purple pigment does not reflect purple light, but instead red and blue without green. It’s interesting that it doesn’t seem to be an ‘easy color’ and maybe that’s why people are quite polarized about it.” 

( 1 ) David Hicks' eclectic approach to design caught the eye of director Stanley Kubrick, who used the “Hicks Hexagon" pattern for the carpet of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

ISSUE 52

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