One man’s ‘beige’ is another man’s ‘Oatmeal Biscuit’

Coffee.  Of the wrong colour.

How strange the change from 'Tuscan Biscotti' to 'Champagne Suede'.

When Walter Sheffersqueuetonshaw, renowned chromaclature consultant, offered the chance of an interview, our reporter David Rince leapt at the opportunity.

Here are some excerpts from his report:

Walter was waiting for me at the appointed rendez-vous outside the café in Grape Lane.  He was staring distractedly into his coffee:

WS: “They’ve put full-fat in this.  I asked for semi.”

DR: “How can you tell?  You’ve not tasted it yet.”

WS: “Just look.  See how the foam here is Tuscan Biscotti?  It should be much nearer to Champagne Suede.  Full-fat.”

I didn’t really see, but I was loath to doubt the finely-honed eye of the expert. *

DR: “Thank you for giving us this interview, Mr Sheffersqueuetonshaw.  I know that many of our readers have wondered exactly who it is that names the colours in household paint…”

WS: “Not just household paint, I do any form of colour, domestic and institutional stuff too.”

DR: “I see, so what exactly is the exciting world of ‘chromaclature’ all about?”

WS: “Essentially, it is about naming colours.  You could think about it as a kind of taxonomy of tone, or a cataloguing of chromaticity.”

DR: “A heirarchy of hue?”

WS: “Don’t be flippant.”

DR: “I’m sorry.  So what makes a good chromaclature consultant?”

WS: “Well, my training has been long and hard. This is both an art and a science you see – so obviously I can’t explain everything in five minutes…  Briefly, though, the aim of what we do is to help the end user of a colour to engage with it on an emotional and intellectual level. So, for example, if you want to choose a shirt, you might feel more attracted to one whose colour was Saint Tropez Zenith than one whose colour was simply light blue. Even if (and this is the powerful bit) they were exactly the same shirt!”

DR: “that’s … er… ”

WS: “From a marketing point of view, the actual naming is very important. An exotic foreign-sounding destination can give an air of sophistication and worldliness to a colour. A nice literary adjective can lend an aspect of intellectual superiority.  Foreign food, too, is often a winner.  Currently, I’m hunting for just the right colour to go with ‘Vyshhorod Insouciant Mechoui‘.

DR: “I’d no idea that…”

WS: “This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Lately, we’ve been excited to discover that there’s a flip-side to the coin, too:  just as the name of a colour can have an impact on its marketability, it transpires that the colour itself can have some value…”

DR: “In what way?”

WS: “As the science of naming colour has evolved, we have come to understand that colours themselves can, in fact, have strong emotional effects…”

DR: “I understand that orange is good for digestion…”

WS: “… well, quite, but that’s a very broad interpretation.  We believe that Mandarin Tea-Time is more effective for the digestion of red meats, while Saffron Tambourine can have a beneficial effect if one eats a lot of lentils.”

DR: “Astounding!  How is this understanding applied?”

WS: “Well marketing we have already talked about, but there are also more interesting uses.  I can’t divulge the name of the client but, seeing as we were talking about orange, I could perhaps tell you about the time my colleagues and I were involved with the development of a shade that says “we care little for your human rights, and can get away with it because we have more guns than you do“.  We called it Manazanillo Chilli.  I believe it’s also popular with branding people in the home improvement industry.”

DR: “I suppose this technology could be quite powerful?”

WS: “Indeed.  And it can be as dangerous used in ignorance as it can when used in anger.”

Agua Fuego, neither blue nor watery

Agua Fuego, neither blue nor watery. A precise shade of red specifically tuned to the appreciation of 'designer' bottled water.

DR: “What do you mean?”

WS: “Well, for example, not too long ago we discovered that a certain education authority in the North had bought a bulk consignment of paint for its schools’ corridors.  It was a shade of green that we call Brassica Flatulence.  The effect on pupils’ motivation was devastating.  We convinced them to paint over the walls with Mintellectual, and saw an almost immediate five-point grade average improvement.  That’s more than the government achieved in 5 years of sacking teachers and slashing book budgets.”

DR: “Who would have…”

WS: “We’ve been ignorant about colour for so long, and we still have a long way to come.  For example, I doubt that whoever made your shirt would have enjoyed any real success if they’d understood the true nature of the colour they’d chosen.”

DR: “I realise that some consider pink to be a risk for men but… well… it said Financial Times… and I… is that to say that…?”

WS:Angelina Strap-on

DR: “Oh.”

Later, we hope to bring you more insightful interviews with the people who name fonts, racehorses and fishing tackle.  When David feels ready, of course.

* OK, so you can’t really hone an eye – not without some serious watering – but you see what I mean.
Colouring In

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