Choosing what colours, patterns, materials and textures to put together to create an interior design scheme that looks and feels good may not be too taxing, but throw bright, bold colours and large-scale pattern into the mix and many people at this point will recoil slightly in hesitation. Decorating with muted colour palettes and inconspicuous patterns is one thing, but when it comes to more vibrant shades and statement patterns, knowing how to successfully pull this off is quite another.
German designer Lars Contzen is renowned for eccentric, large-scale, graphic décor and is certainly no stranger to making a statement with bold, vibrant colours. He has spent years perfecting the art of using colour and patterns to really push boundaries in interior decoration. As Contzen has recently launched a new product range aptly called Colourcourage, we decided to get the low down from him on how to be brave when using colour and pattern in interiors.
You have a reputation for really pushing the boundaries of decoration through pattern and colour. Why are these two elements such an important part of your work?
LC: I don’t feel that I have a choice. As a skilled artist I need to find a form of communication that is contemporary, progressive and that is influenced by the cultural and sub-cultural influences of our time. If we didn’t live in a multimedia, colourful age, my designs would probably look totally different. In my opinion, good design is a reaction to cultural currents.
Many of your designs use pattern in large scale. What advice would you give to people who want to use large patterns successfully in their homes?
LC: Firstly, don’t be afraid to use large-scale patterns. In my opinion as a designer it takes more courage to use small-scale patterns. By using larger scales a room starts to “open” itself. Mostly the room appears to be more structured, puristic and it seems to have more space. Small scale patterns can quickly look nervous and can make a room seem confined and kittenish. By using patterns in general I would give the advice just to use one type of graphic. Mostly it looks great to combine the right plain colours with this chosen design to get a conceptual look.
How important is colour in interior design and how important is it to ensure that the colour palettes within a certain space are well balanced and harmonious?
LC: If you decide to use striking colours for an interior design project it is very important to do it the right way. The result definitely has an immediate effect on the well-being of the people who use the space. The colours are responsible for the predominant mood and atmosphere in a room. So you bear a lot of responsibility in this decision process.
One of your most recent projects is Colourcourage. Can you explain what Colourcourage is?
LC: With Colourcourage I defined my own colour system, which includes design patented colour “families” that have been merged into a harmonious and sophisticated use of light and colour. These are defined based on regularities of colour psychology combined with the current cultural understanding of colour and are intended for use in the areas of architecture and interior design. A Colourcourage partner network, consisting of reputed companies in the industry, will supply appropriate products or materials, which guarantee a well-balanced and harmonious colour composition.
How did you go about getting your industry partners on board for the Colourcourage range?
LC: I just explained my perception that we are going to see more colourful than ever before. After the hype for graphical surfaces in nearly all areas of design, it was a logical conclusion that products need combinable plain colours. But neither for interior designers nor for end consumers it is easy to find matching colours on different materials in the market. The only way to realise matching colours between different materials was to work with the industry partners in a way that had never be done before. Every industry partner in our network defines their colour by using the original coloured material of the other partners as a visual reference. The result is an optimal matching system based on the real material, not only on printed colour charts.
How do you ensure that your collection is consistent when the different elements are produced by different companies?
LC: It is necessary to supervise every production. Mostly we need to adjust some aspects to get an aesthetic and matching final result.
What advice would you give to people who are scared of decorating their homes with bright, bold colours?
LC: There are many ways to decorate a home in a pleasant and well-balanced way. If someone is scared of bright and bold colours, one has to respect that. The only advice that I can give people is not to think about decorating their home as a long-term thing. Sometimes simple changes can make a home alive and adorable. And if someone practices this idea, they will automatically start to experiment with colours or patterns.
How important is it that the different elements within a space (walls, floors, furniture etc) complement each other and work together?
LC: This is the main concept of my work. I believe that a credible use of pattern and colour must be based on a conceptual thinking and a matching system. The more pattern or striking colour tone a material has, the more important is it that it matches to the design elements and materials around it. In the last few years I have worked on the idea to create a pool of combinable products and materials. If you decide to use “Contzen-designs” for a building you will get offered a toolbox of synchronized products. The idea is to fill architecture and interior design with striking but aesthetic colour tones so that the look and feel of a room, space or building is reminiscent of graphic décor or constructivist painting that goes beyond normal dimensions. A room can be converted into an “ornament” without the surfaces in it being decorative.
All of your designs have a very distinctive visual style. Where are you currently getting your inspiration for your designs?
LC: I get most of my inspiration from the sub-cultural currents of the young generation. You will not find fresh ideas at trade fairs or in magazines. When the designs have arrived there, they have already been around for some years. I look for example at the surfing, skating, art or music culture and get more inspiration there than from any trade fair.