By Karen Parr-Moody
Yellow is a stunning color that symbolizes the rebirth of spring and the warmth of the sun’s return. Like a chameleon, yellow also works well with a rainbow of other colors. It looks particularly good with hot pink, navy, grey, black and white.
Yellow is one of the few colors that can be either playful or sophisticated, depending on how it is used and what the shade. Currently, GasLamp is full of the brightest yellow hues – the color of ripe lemons – that will surely put decorators in a sunny state of mind.
Some of the best places for yellow are bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms. These are rooms where a homeowner can inject some fun splashes of funky chic. The stylized poster in the photo, above right, would be a great addition to any of these rooms ($52; B-178). The “Surfin’ USA, Malibu, California” headline splashed across the poster in fabulous retro fonts brings to mind the same-named album by the Beach Boys that came out in 1963.
This poster takes a viewer back to the era when Southern California was put on the map, oddly enough, by a Viennese-born émigré named Frederick Kohner. In 1957 Kohner wrote “Gidget,” a barely fictionalized recording of his teenaged daughter’s Malibu summer experience. The book became a best-seller, launching the 1959 movie of the same name. Such cultural phenomenon partly led to Malibu becoming home to the surf boom of the early and mid-60s.
A kitschy kitchen could not be complete without a 1950s chrome and Formica table, such as the butter yellow version with two vinyl chairs in the photo, left ($175; Booth B-330). Yellow is a refreshing addition to a room, and what room needs refreshment more than a kitchen?
In the early 1900s, the celebrated French designer Emile Galle created a French Nouveau lamp shaped like a mushroom lamp, a high watermark in design history. Only six known designs exist, including one that was auctioned at Sotheby's in 1989 for $1.1 million. As the decades wore on, industrial designs were tempered by the Mid-century Modern style of clean lines and space-age feel, punctuated by the 1956 pedestal table and “Tulip” chair designed by Eero Saarinen, which also had an organic plant shape.
Saarinen’s chair and table made its mark on home furniture, reaching into the 70s, the era of the mushroom table lamp, by Gilbert Production and USA Softlite Inc., seen in the photo, right ($78; L-104). Such a mushroom shape represents Galle’s French naturalism tempered by the Finnish minimalism of Saarinen. The shades of the mushroom table lamp were a rainbow of colors, including white, brown, purple, red, orange and yellow, with the bases coming in other tones. This lamp’s tones of bright yellow and orange could surely bring the sun to any dreary desk.
Another blast from the 1970s past is this cheery yellow telephone in the photo, left ($75, Booth B-101). It was part of the AT&T Design Line and was called the “Sculptura.” It was advertised along with other models of the day, such as the “Elite,” which was made out of green leatherette, or the “Stowaway,” which was hidden in a box (ah, the Seventies).
The Sculptura became known in popular nomenclature as the “Donut” phone and emerged as one of the most iconic phones of the era. Offered as either TouchTone or rotary dial, it was produced in the colors of yellow, brown and white. In yellow, it’s surely as hip today as any iPhone.
The gorgeous yellow vase in the photo, right, is a fine example of semi-opaque, mold-blown Victorian Bristol glass ($72, Booth B-106). Manufactured in the late 1800s, Victorian Bristol glass is known for its hand-painted botanical motifs, such as the flowers on this vase. The fast-growing middle-class homeowners of the Victorian era proudly displayed such wares, including vases, perfume bottles and lamps, in their homes. Such glass took on the name of Bristol glass from the town of Bristol, England, which was a major glassmaking hub in the 17th and 18th centuries. Even though the paint-decorated glass wares of the Victorian era bear only a passing resemblance to works made a century earlier in Bristol, the name was still adopted by future generations of collectors.
The color yellow is a bright delight for creative decorators who want to put in pops of fresh color here and there. One of the most innovative designers working today, Jonathan Adler, is know for his "happy chic" style, which includes color-drenched rooms with items such as bright yellow Chippendale chairs. Adler, who likes to mix yellow with grey and moss green, says "Colors can't clash." And with yellow – the most buoyant tone of them all – this is especially true.