Blue Period. It’s been a while since I’ve spotlighted one of my favorite subjects at HouseBlended – the design mashup. Whether it’s the arbitrary exercise of pulling two random design themes out of a hat or helping a couple merge their distinctive styles into one cohesive home they can both be happy in, bringing seemingly disparate design elements together is one of the most exciting things about interior design today. This time around, I wanted to pair two things that are quintessentially French – the Empire Style, made popular during the Napoleonic era, and the distinctive shade of vivid royal blue that’s synonymous with iconic 20th century artist, Yves Klein. Today, blended elements of both can be spotted on runways and in some of the chicest interiors. In my opinion, it’s a match made in Gallic design heaven.
A leading member of the Nouveau Realisme movement in post-war France, iconic French artist Yves Klein used much of his work to focus on the power and interplay of color. Many of his quintessential pieces employed the use of a brilliant ultramarine hue – which he developed with a Parisian art supplier. This signature shade now bears his name and is still available today as International Klein Blue.
Electric Blue. Klein incorporated this bold azure shade into a prodigious body of work including paintings, sculptures and furniture, as well as performance art pieces that often incorporated his wife and artistic muse, Rotraut Uecker. In sharing his fascination with the color, Klein said, “Blue has no dimensions. It is beyond dimensions, whereas the other colors are not… All colors arouse specific associative ideas, psychologically material or intangible, while blue suggests at most the sea and sky, and they after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract.”
Rise of the Empire. As with concurrent movements in architecture and fashion, the Empire Style that sprung up following the French Revolution was meant to harken back to the virtues and aesthetic ideals of ancient Greece and the Roman Republic. In furniture design, this often translated into clean-lined, massive pieces with simple accents such as column supports or simple metal embellishments.
Mastering the Mix. These two seemingly random design elements work surprisingly well together. Klein’s vibrant blue is a stand-out star – acting as a perfect bridge between the regal, clean lines of the Empire Style and elements with a mid-century modern flair. I’ve spotted this synergy in numerous recent runway shows and interiors features.
Shop the Look. Below are just a few ideas for shaking up your own personal style with this distinctive design story. For even more ideas and a closer look at the work of Yves Klein, check out HouseBlended on Pinterest.
25) YYves Klein (French Edition), $89.20 – Amazon | 26) Yves Klein, $16.95 – Barnes & Noble | 27) Empire Style, The Hotel de Beauharnais in Paris, $102.60 – Amazon | 28) The French Empire Style of Furniture, $26.45 – Barnes & Noble