PPG Paints — meet the Makers

Could music help you choose colours for your home? PPG Paints and Play It Strange are proving it’s not that big a stretch. PPG’s chief coloursmith Rachel Lacy tells how. 

So Rachel, PPG’s been collaborating with New Zealand creatives as part of its Makers range, and the latest coupling is with charity Play It Strange, which supports young songwriters to write, record and perform their own songs. How did that happen? Whether it’s a beautiful song tugging at your heartstrings or a beautifully painted room lifting your spirits, sound and colour both provoke an emotional response. We tend to be comfortable deciding what music we like but are reluctant to trust our instincts when it comes to colour selection, so we wanted to explore the idea of combining the two as a different way to consider and choose colour for our homes.
For PPG Paints, being part of the communities we operate in globally is stitched into our DNA, so when we were looking for a partner for this project, Play It Strange was an easy choice. The whole experience was such a joy.

MAIN IMAGE Mayank Kumar penned a song call Me & You, and inspired by his Indian heritage concocted Maple Masala to go with it. TOP PPG Paints’ Rachel Lacy. ABOVE The palette was also used to refresh Play It Strange’s Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland office. CEO Mike Chunn (pictured bellow) says it “has given our work environment a real allure. When you walk in, you feel embraced by something that’s unifying but also has a huge variety to it.”

So you brought together 10 young Kiwi artists to create a palette made up of 10 original colours plus 10 original songs to go with them, recorded for an album called The Sound of Colour — how did they go about doing so? The artists selected their colours independently of each other, and without any suggestions or rules imposed by us, and what we got was a riot of colour. The carefree, joyful paints in the palette both hold their own and sit happily within the group.
Each musician has a story to tell about why they choose their colour, all of which you’ll find on our website, along with their songs. Billie Comer’s Dowling St reminds her of running through Dunedin in the pouring rain with friends one day around the time she was writing her song, Help Me Remember, with the sky bluish-grey above them. Katie-Lee Webster’s soft green Subtle Verdant suggests feelings of safety while representing growth and change. Tara Canton enjoys eating oatmeal out of a green bowl every morning, and her Oatmeal paint colour makes her feel just as good.

How have music and colour influenced your own life? Every family has their anthems, and I grew up listening to Leonard Cohen. My mother [Prue Cook, who founded her own paint company in 1993] used to sing along to his songs — they were our lullabies. We sung Hallelujah at her funeral and it sounded like a big, magical choir.
My memories of music and colour are inseparable and when I think of my mother, I always think of the cerulean blue that she loved so much. Every bedroom in our house was either cerulean or contained something that was in that colour.

TOP Kaipara-formed now Wellington-based band Selohrae’s shade Leafy Green is reminiscent of rural New Zealand in spring. ABOVE Of the alignment of music and colour in this project, Mike (of Split Enz fame) says, “It seems natural to me.” He’s reminded of the time John Lennon walked into a recording studio as a song was being mixed and said to the engineer that he wanted it to sound like an orange. “A lot of people have said that’s a strange thing to say. In my mind, it makes perfect sense.”

We love the idea of using music to inform our colour choices — how could we go about doing that? When listening to the music you love, think about what colour comes mind — then trust your instincts. 

What colour pairings in this palette work particularly well? Neutral Haumaringi on the walls with yellow Otago Sunrise on the ceiling would make a strikingly lovely combination for a living space. For less of a statement, colours that blend into each other can be easier to combine — Blazon Fire and Pale Lellow, for example. For an exterior, Dowling St and Leafy Green would be great together.

Make-it-work mood board

You could make a hero of just one of these hues or combine several to create a symphony of colour. Whatever you prefer, achieve a harmonious effect with the rest of your interior scheme by considering the balance between warm and cool, and light and dark. Imagine your palette coming together like a lead singer and backing band, then experiment with shades until you land on a few that are in tune with your style.

BACKDROP Checkerboard fabric, $60/m, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Hem sofa, $4133, Galet carpet, POA, Relae bowl by Raawii, $275, Artisan Slim Subway Gloss tiles, $61/m2, Lens Minor Major 04 pendant, $6200, Velluti fabric, POA, Bachelor chair by Montana, $1250, Tangerine Grid fabric, $60/m, Butter Spot pillowcase by Castle, $85, Micro 30 Mini Mosaics tiles, $593+GST/m2, 

PPG Paints Makers colours are created by New Zealand artists and designers, and sold exclusively at Bunnings;

Interview Alice Lines
Photography Mark Smith

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