Colour

This par­tic­u­lar shade of duck-egg blue has long ap­pealed to rar­efied tastes

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents - TIF­FANY BLUE

Recre­ate the lux­ury and last­ing ap­peal of Tif­fany Blue at home

In 1837 a new shop opened its doors at 259 Broad­way, New York. Smart lo­cals, if they no­ticed at all, might not have had high hopes for its longevity. Within a few short years, how­ever, it had stopped sell­ing a hodge podge of stationery and gifts, bought with a loan from one of the own­ers’ fa­thers, and had be­gun of­fer­ing a far more lux­u­ri­ous se­lec­tion of glass­ware, porce­lain and jewellery. Over a hun­dred and eighty years later, the busi­ness hatched from this sin­gle shop has de­vel­oped into a com­pany worth $11.6 bil­lion dol­lars, with some 12,000 em­ploy­ees world­wide. Bound up with this suc­cess is a very par­tic­u­lar shade, known to the world as Tif­fany Blue.

The choice of this hue was savvy. Pale turquoise shades have long been as­so­ci­ated with re­fined taste, in part be­cause of the value of the turquoise stone it­self, but also be­cause the colour was no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to cre­ate. Painters and dy­ers yearned for sta­ble green pig­ments for cen­turies. One of the few that could im­part a good colour was verdi­gris, a pig­ment made from cop­per weath­ered by salt, wa­ter or air – think of the duck-egg patina that forms on old roofs or that en­crusts the Statue of Lib­erty. It’s an un­sta­ble pig­ment, and get­ting the best from it re­quired care, pa­tience and ex­pe­ri­ence. Jan van Eyck, for ex­am­ple, used it to paint the dress of the pale and pinch-faced woman in his fa­mous Arnolfini

Por­trait. This colour of dress was ex­pen­sive be­cause green fab­ric dyes were also rare; to get a good colour took skill and re­peated dip­pings in sev­eral dye baths, such as weld ( yel­low) and in­digo ( blue).

By the fi­nal decades of the 19th cen­tury pale greens were more ac­ces­si­ble, but still re­tained their al­lure. Minty shades evoked ideas of spring and new be­gin­nings: per­fect for the birth of an op­ti­mistic new cen­tury. They were es­pe­cially beloved by Art Deco and Art Nou­veau de­sign­ers, who paired them with creams, whites and golds, and al­though the trend for all things Art Deco has died down a lit­tle now, pale duck-egg shades re­main a design classic. They look won­der­ful, for ex­am­ple, used on tiles in kitchens and bath­rooms. Try Baked Tiles’ beau­ti­ful ‘Rem­i­nis­cent’ in ‘Sea Green’ (£36 per square me­tre; bakedtiles.co.uk) or Deb­o­rah Os­burn’s pat­terned turquoise ‘Tulip Car­na­tions’ (£43 for ten; cletile.com).

The word iconic is overused, but in the case of Tif­fany Blue it feels well-de­served: this par­tic­u­lar shade of for­get-me-not will al­ways feel like some­thing spe­cial.

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