Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The hoo haa over Glasgow’s new Riverside Museum is a bit of a ‘carry on,’ not about its shaping and making or cost - well, not only about these, but also about it its interior colouring. The local media seems to have created a stir, or thinks it is worth stirring about. Most of the surfaces of the interior spaces are painted a pale lime green. It sounds an odd choice for a Transport Museum, but, strangely, it does look and work well. The space is given an aura of a fresh haze that does enliven the twisting folded planes that shape it.

Lime seems to be the newly fashionable colour, as the graphics for this building also use a lime green in a brighter, more pure colour as dots. The graphics are pretty, but are also pretty hard to read at times, as both lime and dots do not do much for legibility or comprehension, especially with background colours varying from anything between, and including, black and white. These graphics confuse with their dazzling, dancing dottiness: but they look flash and smart. Perhaps this is all that is being asked of them – and the building?

Fashion and colour are truly interesting. One lady involved internationally in the clothing industry – handcrafted woollens – told me how she subscribed to a company each year to be told the new colours that were going to be fashionable in the next season, next year. It might all sound very strange, as though colours and fashions are being dictated to us by folk promoting colours to those seeking guidance, making the common use of the same colours acceptable by the masses as the new wonder. Fashion, it seems, is not generated by the masses. Rather number appears to create its own acceptance by mere – well, number, on the basis that if everyone is doing it, it must be good – and the masses accept this as the new idea: ‘theirs.’ It all appears to happen backwards. Indeed, this lady did produce her garments using the colours that were identified for her – and they sold.

Is this same process happening in architecture? We are seeing lime tables and chairs; lime signs; lime walls; lime fabrics becoming more common. Is it just because such items are available, made in accordance with the new colour guides? It is interesting to note that the new Android systems use lime as a highlighting colour for all of their functions. Did Google seek guidance from the same source? Lime again! It is not an obvious colour for catching the eye. Danger or road signs use no lime. With Android, though, colour has a subtler role in its own promotion – less obviously fashionable, or so it appears, as it does seem to work well – well, satisfactorily. Perhaps the typical danger yellow is going to give way to the new look-at-me lime? Maybe it is this characteristic of lime that makes it so acceptable today - so representative of our times - reflecting today’s ‘look-at-me’ generation as it flicks over its pods and pads in solitary public place where eyes fail to meet and others never exist: just ‘me’ and ‘my.’

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