Tuesday 28 January 2020

Peaches and dream

Lively, energetic and confident - the go-to colour of the 80s is back to claim its place

Feather juju hate in dusty peach
Feather juju hate in dusty peach
Toucan from April and the Bear
Michael Murphy Sensei dining chair
In the Nudey fringed lampshade by Sarah O'Dea
Blush double duvet cover from Harvey Norman
Wall art from Harvey Norman
Hero cushion
Pink Chocolate paint by Colourtrend with Harvey Norman clocks

Terrifying news on the design front. Peach is back! Pause to administer CPR to anyone who remembers it from the 1980s. Back then, peach was the colour of nylon knickers, frilly toilet-roll holders, and nauseating bathroom tiles. It was associated with kitsch, claustrophobic design. And coloured bathrooms.

Sometimes you came across an entire bathroom suite in peach. 1n 1934 Twyford's introduced coloured lavatories, claiming that they "added a note of distinction to the room" and produced sanitary wear in peach from 1951-1958. These are now collectors' items. Then, in 1989, Twyford's re-introduced the peach suite, which continued in production until 2006 (God help us). When peach faded from the interiors landscape, most people breathed a sigh of relief. It was a colour that we all wanted to put behind us.

The young, of course, aren't frightened at all. To them, and from any rational perspective, peach is the shy blushing lovechild of pink and orange. It's a warm and delicate neutral. Peach partners happily with terracotta and shines in the company of gold. Last summer we saw it in fashion - what could be lovelier than a subtle silk peach vest against tanned skin? Now, it's coming through in interiors - lively, energetic, and confident.

This spring, Harvey Norman pinned its peachiness to the mast when it launched its Retro Peach collection. "Peach has come full circle, and it's come back in a much nicer way," says Yvonne Nugent, head-of-homeware for Harvey Norman Ireland. Reluctantly, she admits to remembering peach the first time around. "My mother sold bathrooms, including a peach-coloured suite," she says. "It was called 'champagne and roses'. Bizarrely, that was when gold taps were in too." Then, as now, peach and gold was a winning team.

Toucan from April and the Bear
Toucan from April and the Bear

Retro peach is nostalgic, but reinvented with clean lines and textural contrast. Nugent points to a series of ceramic cachepots (€10 each) that combine a glazed top section in shades of peach with an unglazed terracotta base. "It's a handcrafted look but it needed to have a gloss on it." Similarly, the Reef rug (€280) in coral combines wide bands of peach with ochre, blues, and taupe. Block colours and sharp angles make it look modern, and the peach is administered in homeopathic doses. "It's a lovely way to get into the trend," Nugent explains.

Harvey Norman's cushions are designed and made in Navan by Scatterbox and include the Origami cushion in rose (from €30) with folded velvet sculpted in a way that counteracts the sweetness of the colour. The Scatterbox Eloise cushion (from €30) is even more daring in that it shows big blowsy floral print in shades of peach against a background of sage. "It's our hero cushion," says Nugent proudly. "The sharpness of the digital print is a more modern way of translating florals than a straight screen print." There is also something adorable about the idea that a cushion can be a hero.

The designers at Harvey Norman also worked closely with the paint company Colourtrend to produce a colourway for Irish homes. Colourtrend is known for paint colours created by Irish designers and inspired by the Irish landscape. Its popular peaches include Cuckoo Call, a shade that its marketing manager Edel Nicholson describes as: "A lighter peach for calmer areas, and a possible alternative to magnolia." It could also be layered, to create a sort of peach-on-peach fruit salad, with Beag: "a warm peach with a light red tone." Each of these costs €73 for a five-litre can. Deeper and more daring versions of peach include Pink Chocolate, which belongs to Colourtrend's historic collection and costs €80 for a five-litre can. According to Nicholson, the contemporary way of using peach is to combine it with similar shades and not, as was done in the 80s, with contrasting colours. "My mother had a magnificent peach and mint colour scheme in the "good room", back in the day, and everyone knew somebody that had an avocado bathroom suite with pink wall tiles."

One of the advantages of pink is that it goes well with grey. That's welcome news for those who have invested in drab grey furniture and now wish that they hadn't. A peach-on-peach paint scheme will liven it up no end or, if that's too much, one of those heroic cushions.

"Ah peach, one of the most divisive of colours!" reflects Sarah O'Dea, designer and maker of lampshades and owner of Shady and the Lamp.

"It's a tint that I don't naturally gravitate towards, but I often find it to be the missing link when colour-blending with materials or preparing mood boards." Her recent collection of lampshades - In the Nudey - is inspired by the American actress Jean Harlow, as seen in the 1933 film Dinner at Eight. "I wanted to capture its softly lit boudoir aesthetic and the devil-may-care attitude that Harlow embodied," O'Dea says. "I paired the traditionally-shaped shades seen throughout the film... with fabrics that evoke the almost underwear-like costumes Harlow wore throughout."

Michael Murphy Sensei dining chair
Michael Murphy Sensei dining chair

O'Dea is trained in lampshade making techniques that can only be described as corsetry for light fittings. The collection, which comprises six lampshades, each in a shade of nude, includes two ceiling pendants (€285) and four shades for table lamps (from €110) with embellishments including wild silk, embroidered tesserae, soft fringing and luxe feathers. "In period lighting design, peach is most suited to the bedroom. When lit, it's the closest colour to candlelight; it's naturally soft, evokes romance, and its femininity is easily enhanced by the curve of a traditional lampshade frame."

Peach also has its place in modern lighting where, used in a supporting role, it will offset faded reds and blues and punchier darker pigments. "That's no mean feat for a colour with such a bad reputation but it's exactly that ability, or perhaps its sheer lack of competitivity, that earns peach its place in our homes," she says. "It just needs some consideration… and perhaps a little renewed faith."

See harveynorman.ie, colourtrend.ie, scatterbox.ie, and shadyandthelamp.ie

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