Bringing Optimism to our Cities: One Color at a Time

Over the last several weeks, a lot has changed in our daily lives. We’ve gotten more familiar with our own four walls than we may have ever thought possible (seriously, has that rug always been that color?!), and when we do venture out, things look pretty different. In many places, our neighborhoods are empty and plywood covers the doors and windows of our favorite local bars, restaurants, and shops. But amongst all the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings, our optimism is one thing that continues to propel us forward.

Tim Reaching_blogcrop

When our Lizard Lounge store in Portland, OR, had to shut its doors due to the pandemic, it was boarded up and no longer gave off those feel-good Toad vibes that we know and love. So when designers from architecture and design firm Gensler reached out to us about sprucing it up, we couldn’t have been more excited. To brighten the canvas around our cities, these designers have volunteered their time to partner with small business owners to create vibrant and inspiring murals that reflect the distinct personalty of each business – and the promise of better times to come.

Color Speaks — a research project spearheaded by Gensler’s Seattle office — was initially created to study how color can bring hope and optimism to the future of our cities, and how applications of color in the urban environment affect our behavior and collective well-being (and if we weren’t already excited enough, this research is right up our alley — this spring, we too drew inspiration from the psychology of color).

20200426_160000_blogcrop2

20200426_160000_blogcrop

These designers are using this initiative to encourage others to join them in revitalizing storefronts and transforming abandoned streets into beautiful splashes of uplifting colors and positive messages of resilience and hope. To date, the Gensler Portland team has painted murals at four locations around the city, and conversations are underway with even more business owners. Since initiating this project, more Gensler offices around the nation are joining in to beautify their own cities. And until Lizard Lounge reopens, passersby get to experience some seriously good vibes from the outside.

Good_blogcrop

Panoramic_blogcrop

Feeling inspired? Here’s how you can get involved. The team has created a free tool kit (containing a list of necessary supplies, “paint-by-number” guide, and helpful tips) that walks even non-artists through the process of painting their own murals. Just contact the team through the Color Speaks (@colorspeaks_) Instagram page to get one.

 

 

The Psychology of Color

“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” Pablo Picasso knew a thing or two about how to use color to evoke feelings. So do all those songs about “amber is the color of your energy” and “mellow yellow”… turns out colors can have a huge effect on our psyche. That’s why we infused our New Spring Collection with a healthy dose of colorful, good vibes. 

GREEN 

Because of its strong associations with nature, green is often thought to represent tranquility, good luck, health and optimism. We also think green is the color that looks good on just about everyone so we use it a lot in subtle stripes and prints to make you shine. 

TURQUOISE 

A color found in nature everywhere from the Northern Lights to Equatorial waters to the caves of the southwest, Turquoise is both a natural color and a sacred color. It’s an indicator of fresh, safe water in the natural world, so Turquoise evokes a sense of serenity.  And since it’s found in minerals formed deep within the earth, Native tribes have often used turquoise to represent wisdom and clarity. We like to tap into turquoise for those high summer styles that make you want to jump in the swimming hole, like corduroy shorts and tank tops. 

RED 

A bright, warm color that evokes strong emotions like passion, excitement, strength, and intensity. We used it in a lot of our boldest prints and our swingiest dresses. 

BLUE 

Another nature color, blue is considered serene, calm, stable, and productive. Paint your office blue to relieve stress, or just wear a blue outfit. Let the zen wash over you… 

PURPLE 

The balance between red and blue, purple is generally known to be balanced, calculated, and powerful. Redder purples (like magenta) tend to bring intensity and energy to the color, while bluer purples (like lilac) bring relaxation and stability. Since purple is a relatively rare color to come across in nature, it is associated with luxury, pride and honor. We like it as little pops of detail in plaids and prints – subtle, but strong. 

YELLOW

It’s the brightest color in the spectrum and the most notable to the human eye. In nature, yellow flowers reflect more sunlight which attracts more pollinators, literally radiating positivity. Yellow is often associated with optimism, happiness, cheerfulness and friendliness. Naturally, it’s one of our all-time favorite colors to wear.

ORANGE

Combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It’s an energetic, creative, and stimulating color – perhaps that’s why so many professional sports teams have orange in their team colors. It’s not as passionate and aggressive as red, so orange is considered balanced. It’s said to restore and rejuvenate our energies when we see it. Sounds great for a one-piece!

BLACK 

Black can get a bad reputation, but in reality it’s a very grounding color. Black is total absorption – it is focused, calm, and strong. In Feng Shui, black is considered harmonizing and should be incorporated in your home, office, and other environments. We feel the same way about your closet – you can’t go wrong with a few staples in pure black. 

WHITE 

Just as black is total absorption, white is total reflection. It reflects the full spectrum back into our eyes, and is therefore, every color. White is pure and clean, innocent, and simple. Hence the plain white tee as the cornerstone of every summer wardrobe! 

 

A Moment In Mexico

When it comes to feeling inspired, different forms of inspiration resonate with different types of people. For some, a motivating speech by an elite athlete is enough to inspire a gym membership and new workout clothing. For others, photos from a globetrotting social influencer are enough to purchase a plane ticket to a far off land. We could go on, but the bottom line is this; inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere.

For our design team, a favorite form of inspiration comes from immersion into foreign cultures. In preparation for designing our Spring/Summer 2019 line, our women’s design team landed on the vibrant art and design scene of Mexico. A week of extensive shopping, museum visits, and people-watching in the mercados turned out to be just the inspiration they were after.

When we sat down to chat about their trip, Tonya Humiston and Guin Ganzel were most excited by the use of color throughout Mexico’s capital, from the street art housing to the extensive greenery of city parks. Bright blues, soft yellows, and sunset oranges blanketed everything from haciendas to women’s blouses. Mexico City’s unique palette seems to mirror its eclectic population. Soft hues of blue seem ushered in from Scandinavia, while warm pinks and yellows made their way to Mexico courtesy of eastern influence. As a melting pot of culture, the colors found in Mexico City are a great representation of its worldly inhabitants.

And like color combinations and flavor profiles, time also seems to change when you cross the border. Guin and Tonya often found themselves lost in time (and space) as they trekked between neighborhoods and followed their noses. The result? Stumbling upon local boutiques, stunning buildings, and one cinnamony, sugary, bliss-filled ‘churrero’. Fun travel fact of the day: a churro shop is called a churrero. Have we inspired your trip to “The City of Palaces” yet?

There’s nothing quite like traveling to spark a fire in the brain. Throw in warm weather, foreign languages, and spicy street food and you’ll really get the juices flowing. Exactly the goal for Guin, Tonya and our Spring 2019 collection.