Colour blocking has recently seen a resurgence and is one of the key interior and kitchen design trends for 2019. The design technique can be seen in many places including luxury interiors, retail spaces, graphic design, on the catwalk and of course, in the kitchen.

What is colour blocking?

Colour blocking in its simplest interpretation can be achieved by pairing two or more colours together. Most kitchen designs can achieve this trend by using contrasting cabinets, worktops and wall colours. On the surface it all seems quite simple, however if you delve into the art and design history of colour blocking you can see there’s much more to the technique. In this article we explore the origins of colour blocking, its uses in art, fashion and design and how you can best use this design approach in your interior design project.

The history of colour blocking…

Many art historians will agree that colour blocking originated from Cubism, the earliest signs of this can be seen in Picasso’s renowned painting Demoiselles D’Avignon in 1907. Cubism paved the way for a new style of painting, artists of the time such as Wassily Kandinsky were trying to create pieces that moved away from realism, using a range of colours, lines and the abstraction of form to create a more universal, pure and objective view of the world.

Cubism Art Form - Colour blocking art movementWassily Kandinsky’s ‘Landscape with Factory Chimney’, 1910.

In 1917, inspired by Wassily Kandinsky early work, the artist Piet Mondrian created the Neo-plasticism discipline also known as De Stijl “the style”. This movement would go on to have a profound influence on abstract art, modern architecture and design. The style focuses on abstraction to connote a deeper meaning, it restricts the range of artist/design elements that can be used focusing on primary colour blocks and a strict geometry of horizontals and verticals. In short “the style” restricted the visual art and design language to only the bare essential elements.

Piet Mondrian Large Composition A with Black Red Gray Yellow and Blue 1920Piet Mondrian ‘Large Composition A with Black Red Gray Yellow and Blue’, 1920.

In 1946 the Neoplasticism movement found its way into fashion with the design of the iconic Yves St. Laurent ‘Moderian’ dress, modelled after Piet Mondrian’s artwork. At the time this use of colour blocking was not readily accepted in fashion design as 1940’s fashion would tend to use only modest colours that belonged to the same colour family. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that colour blocking really found its place. In the 60’s experimentation and colour became a way of rejecting societal norms and expressing individuality. Bold colour blocking, and geometric designs found their way into fashion and interior design and the once dismissed Mondrian dress became the iconic fashion piece of the time.

Colour blocking fashion & design historyYves St. Laurent ‘Mondrian’ dress from the Mondrian Collection in homage to Piet Mondrian.

Colour blocking interior design trend

For many, using bold colours in their interior design project can be a daunting experience. We all wish for a design that expresses our personality, that is special and unique, but it can be difficult to find the right design language and balance for your taste. What’s more, a home is an investment and often homeowners lean towards more neutral design styles to appeal to prospective buyers when the time comes to sell their home. One bold and unapologetic use of colour blocking is The Reversible Destiny Office at Arakawa and Gins’ Site of Reversible Destiny in Yoro, Japan. The building’s exterior comprises of contrasting circular and linear forms, each finished in a vibrant colour.

Colour Blocking Architecture - Site of Reversible Destiny BuildingArakawa and Gins’ ‘Site of Reversible Destiny’ in Yoro, Japan.

The colour blocking interior design trend for 2019 uses the technique in its original form and creates a purposefully retro and nostalgic aesthetic, with a modern twist. The trend focuses on the avoidance of symmetry and the creation of aesthetic balance through disruption, often using simple shapes such as squares, triangles and circles to create blocks of colour. Although typically colour blocking as a design discipline restricts the palette to a handful of bold primary colours, this 2019 design trend has a contemporary twist. Primary colours are swapped for muted colour palettes and plain colour blocks are used alongside other textures such as metals, woods and stones.

colour blocking interior geometricInterior design using colour blocking and geometric shapes.

Colour blocking kitchen design trend

The kitchen below is a modern interpretation of colour blocking. Blocks of muted colour tones in green and pink bring a contemporary yet retro feel to this colour blocked kitchen design. A simple way to create a similar look is to select colours that are opposite on the colour wheel. In the kitchen below we use a subtle pink tone which sits within the warm red side of the colour wheel, paired with a contrasting green hues which are opposing yet harmonious colours. While not to everyone’s taste, this kitchen certainly makes a statement.

Kitchen Design Trend Colour Blocking - Green Pink Colour BlockingModern colour blocking kitchen by Extreme Design.

Making a kitchen design trend timeless

While interior and kitchen design trends provide inspiration and can be a great guide to creating a modern kitchen design, we believe in timeless design that transcends trends. Your kitchen is an investment and a beautifully made luxury kitchen will last for many years to come, so its important that the design stands the test of time.

When we collaborate with clients who are inspired by a particular kitchen trend, we focus on understanding what it is that they like about this particular style. By breaking down the trend and uncovering what makes this style resonate with them, we are able to create a kitchen design that feels both modern and timeless.

To find out more about kitchen design trends for 2019, or how to use colour blocking techniques in your own personal design project please contact an Extreme designer at one of our studios.

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Image credits: 1. Image courtesy of Guggenheim.org | 2. Image courtesy of Ideelart.com. | 3. Image courtesy of museeyslparis.com | 4. Image courtesy of reversibledestiny.org | 5. Photo by Brittany Ambridge, image courtesy of domino.com 6. Image courtesy of extreme-design.co.uk.