Did you know that blue is the UK's favourite colour? Reminding us of the sky, the sea, the open air, it's no wonder we love this cool, tranquil colour so much! In fact, a 2015 survey revealed that blue was the world's favourite colour in a series of surveys covering 10 countries across four continents! The polls took place in the UK, Germany, USA, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia and in all of them, blue came out on top. Blue is often associated with freedom, imagination, sensitivity, loyalty and wisdom. It is an incredibly versatile colour with which to decorate your home as the other colours it's paired with can really change the overall feeling of the room. Combined with contrasting yellows and oranges, this colour palette creates a fresh, bright feel. Whereas pairing blue with natural tones creates a tranquil space, or accompanied by jewel tones, blue adds depth and warmth to a room. So join us as we explore the rich history of this beautiful colour and show you some fabulous ways to include the colour everybody loves into your own home.
An Ancient Egyptian mural showing the goddess Nuit, heavily featuring the Egyptian Blue pigment. Image via Ancient Egypt Online.
Some scientists believe that the earliest humans were actually colourblind and could only recognise black, white, red, and then later yellow and green. As a result, it is thought that early humans had no concept of the colour blue. This is even reflected in ancient literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey, that describes the ocean as a 'wine-red sea.' Blue was first produced by the ancient Egyptians who worked out how to create a permanent pigment that they used for decorative arts. Considered to be the first ever synthetically produced colour pigment, 'Egyptian blue' (also known as 'cuprorivaite') was created around 2,200 B.C. It was made from ground limestone mixed with sand and a copper-containing mineral which was then heated to a high temperature. The result was an opaque blue glass which then had to be crushed and combined with thickening agents such as egg whites to create a long-lasting paint or glaze.The ancient Egyptians held the colour in very high regard and used it to paint ceramics, statues, and even to decorate the tombs of the pharaohs.
Girl with a Pearl Earring, painted by Johannes Vermeer in 1665. Image via Maurithuis Art Gallery.
Ultramarine, the infamous blue hue used to paint 'Girl With a Pearl Earring' first appeared as a pigment in the 6th century and was used in Buddhist paintings in Afghanistan. It was made from the precious gemstone, lapis lazuli. It was named ultramarine (meaning “beyond the sea”) when the pigment was imported into Europe by Italian traders during the 14th and 15th centuries. Its deep, royal blue quality meant that was highly sought after among artists living in Medieval Europe. However, in order to use it you had to be wealthy, as it was considered to be just as precious as gold. It remained extremely expensive until a synthetic ultramarine was invented in 1826, by a French chemist, which was then aptly named “French Ultramarine.”
Although blue was expensive to use in paintings, it was much cheaper to use for dying textiles. Unlike the rarity of lapis lazuli, the arrival of a new blue dye called indigo came from a widely grown crop that was produced across the world. The use of indigo for dyeing textiles was most popular in England, and was used to dye clothing worn by men and women of all social backgrounds. Natural indigo was replaced in 1880, when synthetic indigo was developed. Here at Artisans & Adventurers however, we still use natural indigo dye across our Indian Indigo Collection. In 2009, a new shade of blue was accidentally discovered by Professor Mas Subramanian and his then graduate student Andrew E. Smith at Oregon State University. While exploring new materials for making electronics, Smith discovered that one of his samples turned bright blue when heated. Named YInMn blue, after its chemical makeup of yttrium, indium, and manganese, they released the pigment for commercial use in June 2016.
So obviously now you're wanting to incorporate some of this incredible colour into your home, right? One of the easiest ways to start adding splashes of colour to your home is through small accessories that can easily be swapped out. Blue is an incredibly versatile colour that compliments many different palettes and decor styles. We particularly love styling blue tones with neutral colours such as whites and greys as it really lets the blue pop! Our kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the most neutrally decorated rooms in our homes, so we would recommend adding a few colourful blue accessories to these rooms first. Our Monkey Puzzle Hand Painted Soap Dish is handmade in the beautifully colourful city of Jaipur in India. They are made using traditional Indian Frit, composed of quartz stone powder, powdered glass, tragacanth gum, saji, fullers earth clay and water rather than traditional stoneware clay and then each one is lovingly hand painted by Jaipur Blue Pottery. The fun pattern inspired by monkey puzzle trees paired with the vibrant shades of blue is sure to liven up any plain, neutral bathroom and inject some of this rich colour into an under-loved space. Another great option for small, swappable accessories are tea towels! Our blue Elephant Skeleton Screen Printed Tea Towels are proving particularly popular at the moment and also make perfect gifts.
Another great option for injecting some rich blue tones into your space is through textiles. Textiles are a really great way to add a big punch of colour into your space without having to drastically change your decor. For a really fun, fresh look, we love pairing blue accessories with contrasting yellow tones. Our Tanzanian Throw in Cobalt Blue is made from super soft 100% Tanzanian cotton and each one is loomed by hand. They are perfect to use as a bed-spread, throw or blanket, making them very versatile whilst you're still experimenting with colour. Another great textiles option are our Indian Indigo Block Printed Cushion Covers. In exclusive prints designed by us at Artisans & Adventurers, our cushion covers are woven from cotton in small batches on traditional wooden looms and then printed in India using natural indigo dye. These cushion covers are very durable, making them perfect for busy homes, mucky paws and even outdoor use. A great way to style these is by focusing on one trend we love - pattern mixing! By mixing cushion covers in different patterns and textures in a monochromatic colour palette you can create a beautiful look straight from the pages of a magazine!
If you're looking for some blue decor that will really provide the wow factor, we recommend trying out a gallery wall! Whether you have plain white walls or a dark navy back drop, gallery walls are the perfect, impactful choice to change up the style of your space and also provide a fabulous opportunity for incorporating new colours. For a really cohesive look, we recommend keeping all the elements of your gallery wall within the same colour palette. Our Rwandan Bowl Basket in Blue Camo Leaf is the perfect starting piece for a gallery wall, each bowl has a handy loop on the back perfect for hanging. The natural texture of these baskets as well as their 3D shape adds interest to blank walls instantly. We love adding masks to our gallery walls as they provide the perfect talking point as well as adding personality to a space. We're particularly loving our Ghanaian Hand Carved Comb Mask at the moment. Originating from the Ashanti region of Ghana, the Akan Comb Mask displays the face of a person, highlighted with embossed features and textures that embody the Baule sculpture style of the Akan people. The image of the comb represents personal beauty, refinement, and a desire to please. The splashes of red in this mask also create a great point of contrast that you could accentuate by including more red accessories.
We hope you found some helpful styling tips and enjoyed learning more about the rich history of the nations favourite hue! You can shop our entire blue edit here. You can also read all our top tips on styling with yellows here.