I decided to study the book properly as I was looking for two things: some colour inspiration for what to do with our awkward purple sofa and how to develop a signature style.
On first glance Hue appears to be little more than a brochure of interiors designed by Kelly Wearstler. Many people who have bought this book have complained that there are no captions, tips or explanations to accompany the photographs and whilst I can understand this disappointment – I felt it myself – in some ways the lack of text adds to the sense of intrigue that her interiors create, in the same way that Kate Moss’ point blank refusal to explain her actions make her all the more fascinating.
At the start of the book there is an interview with Kelly and to be honest I found more insight and inspiration here than can be found in the entirety of many design books. There are some real gems on how to find, collect and store inspiration and how to blur the boundaries between fashion, art and interior design.
Kelly’s interiors play on scale and colour in a big way. Everything is oversized and every colour is ramped up to the max. From the 1980s vintage chairs recovered in vibrant velvets to rows of enormous statues in oxidised copper, no part of these interiors sit quietly in the background. Everything items seem to take centre stage and it is testament to her skill that this does not have a disturbing effect.
Her use of colour is extraordinary. She uses colours and combinations that in less experienced and courageous hands would be uncomfortable and jarring. She teams bright with bright and revels in clashing hues that invigorate the senses. There is no greige, Elephant’s Breath or Shaded White here – it’s all vermillion, cerulean, period and jonquil and other colours that I’ve never heard of.
Kelly’s style is masculine and there are huge doses of the 1980s thrown in. Many of the interiors sit just on the right side of good taste – any less sophistication in colour matching and furniture selection and they could easily stray into vulgarity. It is her genius that enables this this delicate balance between impact, originality and naffness.
I think that one of the key reasons that Kelly’s interiors are so original is that she often designs her own products. Designs for wallpapers, carpets, furniture and even cushions start life in the vast number of boxes full of inspiration that line her studio. This level of bespoke allows everything to fit together beautifully and results in interiors that are perfectly balanced but that create tension between drama and impact, comfort and serenity.
Kelly’s interiors are grand. They are found in swanky Miami hotels, Malibu beach front properties and spiralling American country estates. This is Hollywood design at its finest. There is no Hackney townhouse or four hundred square foot Manhattan apartment here. It’s hard to imagine how her dramatic and surreal aesthetic would translate to a normal sized family home and this makes it untouchable to most of us, something to be admired and revered from afar.
Absorbing myself in Hue for a weekend left me feeling slightly depressed. This book makes every other interior appear pedestrian and parochial and rather than feeling inspired it made me want to throw the towel in now, before I start, as to achieve interiors with the drama she is famous for must surely taken super human talent.
Hue has however made me realise the importance of defining one’s own style and moreover, of thinking BIG. It is excellent as a book on the implementation of colour, and for ideas on how to create impact. If you are looking for some motivation to push your home out of its comfort zone then this book will be a brilliant addition to your bookshelf. But be warned you may never look at the world the same way again.