A short history of saffron
May 13, 2020
May 20, 2018
Some colours possess all the qualities of their popular namesakes. And so it is with mustard. Sharp, piquant and tangy, it adds a shot of heat to anything it touches, and right now it’s fast-tracking its way to be the interiors accent colour du jour having been seen everywhere at the Milan Furniture Fair, April 2018 (see Milan 2018 Trend Report). Not something you’d imagine of this hue? Well that’s why it’s intriguing, because it perhaps seems like it’s a bit out there and edgy, when actually, it’s super easy to use at home. After all, not for nothing is it one of the world’s most widely employed condiments — mustard seeds contain something called myrosinae, which pushes out flavour, so in culinary terms it’s an enhancer, not an overwhelmed. The same too in the home.
As a colour, in isolation it might appear to be a very love or loathe hue, however pair it with the New Neutrals — those deliciously laid-back lavenders, pale sage greens, peaches and powder pinks that are still everywhere at the minute — and a complex yet artfully coordinated character emerges as sedate starts to feel seriously sexy. Mustard is just tremendously adaptable: a pinch lends both depth and deliciousness, and I feel that’s why its rising to the fore right now: it represents the idea of being a bit more rock’n’roll in your home, chiming with the devil-may-care mix and mismatch moment that’s happening on a broader scale right, but actually, it’s a pretty safe bet. To return to my cooking analogies, it’s the easy way to create a gourmet-level recipe for success.
Caveat: use it consistently; a single cushion in an otherwise quiet room will just look odd. You need to be bold and mix it in using a generous dollop by twinning accessories (see more of my favourite picks at the end of this post!) with a star piece of furniture or a single wall in a statement paper. The point is, you need enough to add a deliberate flavour. Mustard doesn’t really do nuance. And while I certainly wouldn’t advocate a whole room replete in this strain of deep, earthy yellow, I’ve seen one that had a gloriously unexpected glossy mustard ceiling and it was absolutely magnificent. Certainly a move I find myself thinking and re-thinking about!
Besides, as I wrote in my Milan 2018 Trend Report, my money’s on a variant of this hue for the forthcoming colour of the year. Why? Because it’s currently the peace broker between the two potentially rival style camps competing for our attention right now: New Neutrals vs Happy Design. It belies its perceived stridency such that you’d be forgiven for thinking at first, no, I can’t possibly ‘do’ mustard, then you try it and discover it adds such joy to a simple scheme that you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. Ohh, and, just how fantastic did Amal Clooney look at that wedding?! Enough said. PS Head to toe in fashion, big tick; see above re a touch more caution required at home.
2. ‘Gamboge’ by Paint & Paper Library. A rich, warm, full-bodied mustard. £48.50 for 2.5litres flat emulsion.
3. ‘Lamplighter’ by Craig & Rose. A bright, sunny yellow mustard. £32.98 for 2.5 litres flat emulsion.
Four more things (don’t forget the lamp and cushions above!) to add an instant pop of this oh-so-on-trend-it-hurts, off-beat sunshine…
2. ‘Yellow vase’ print by Lucie Sheridan. No better way to add colour than with art. Unlimited £65
3. ‘Caipirinha’ jug by Ichendorf Milano. A hit of mustard for the table, no flowers required. £93, SCP.
4. Flowerpot pendant in mustard yellow, designed in 1968 by Verner Panton. £197, twentytwentyone.
Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.