Orange and Magenta -it’s where its at!

The Hook

Good wine and good company were key to getting the interior designers and design marketers to the event at Ceramic Matrix tile showroom last week. 

At the mention of the seminar however, everyone suddenly had something to else do. Wash the dog, visit in-laws, get stuck in traffic – anything to avoid another tedious lecture from someone telling us how to do something we already know how to do. 

Swayed by the offer of CEU credits and more wine, many stayed and though we never would have guessed –  it was so worth it!

COLOR Feras Irikat, courtesy of NEWH

The presenter, Feras Irikat, Design Director for Oceanside + Mandala tile companies, and Color Guru extraordinaire, filled us up with amazing facts, knowledge and tricks we didn’t even know we needed to know!

 Orange and Magenta and you’re good to go!

After a quick hour, we found that the bottom line is the only two colors you really need to know are Orange and Magenta.  All things flow from there. Crazy I know, but we’ll get to that later.


Color Orange   Color Magenta copy

The Basics

Feras started with the Basics. Color is a science based on wavelengths, absorption, and reflection. Color, to be color, needs 3 things: pigment + a light source + an observer. Voila- color!

 Lighting 101: Let there be light – wait not that light!

Interior Designers know light has a huge effect on color. At it’s most extreme, No Light=No Color.  So the amount of light in a room or on a building exterior is critical to deciding a color or color palette.  You can’t choose an exterior paint color from inside your design studio and you can’t choose a color palette for a client’s interior space while you sit outside. That ‘tan’ selection for the building facade wont look the same inside under halogen or fluorescent blubs and vice versa! Texture also plays a part. A pretty burnt orange tile is going to look very different than the same color on a very textured pillow.

Color, Burnt Orange Tile, compliments tile-stylecoukColor Burnt Orange pillow, compliments

Why are these people so difficult?

Another important aspect of how we perceive a color has nothing to do with real life, it is all about emotion.  “Color Conditioning” as Feras explains it, is each person’s emotional connection to a color. 

Color Pink Flooring circles

Men can’t do pink because in our culture pink is for girls. I don’t like Avocado Green (even if it has been renamed) because it reminds me of old refrigerators. Peach can be a hard sell to a generation who grew up with peach and seafoam green everywhere.  Different cultures view colors differently.   

Color Green mod bath 

You wont be using that perfect green bathroom floor tile for your Middle Eastern clients because they consider green a sacred color.  Your all-white sofas may not be popular with some Asian clients who see white as the color of mourning. Regional differences matter too – Color trends in Florida are going to be different from colors in Wisconsin.

Old Corneas

The age of your clients will also effect how they perceive the colors. As we age our corneas yellow. So if your client is older or younger than you and you can’t agree on subtle color changes, consider the age of your corneas! You may not be seeing the same thing!

COLOR Color Spectrum

What went wrong? The lesson of Undertones….

Yep, chose your color, great. But then realize that your wonderful color choice is actually second in importance to the primary color issue, the undertone. All colors have an undertone which are either a variation of warm yellow or a variation cool blue. For example, red is never just red. It is red with a blue-green undertone, red with a yellow-orange undertone. Benjamin Moore Paints for example has hundreds of reds and more than 200 variations of white. White! Each has a different undertone.

 Color Lots of Red, Red WineColor Miley Cyrus Red BootsColor Red 1


What was that about Orange and Magenta?

Feras, aka Mr. Color, walks around with 2 large fabric swatches draped over his shoulders. One is Magenta, the other is Orange. To understand why you have to look at the color chart.

Color spectrum1 copy

Each of these 7 simple colors has an endless possibility of undertones (in the warm-yellow or cool -blue family) that create huge changes in their look.  With all the possibilities, Feras uses a system that is even more refined than looking at the yellow-blue undertones.

To find out where a color falls, and therefore what it’s undertone is, simply know 2 important facts: there is only one color that exists on the warm side of the chart and not the cool side: Orange. 

And, there is only one color that exists on the cool side and not the warm side: Magenta

Put a swatch of orange and magenta up to your color or a color palette and you will see quickly where your colors fall on the spectrum. You will know if your undertones are consistent and if they will result in a harmonious and perfect blend for your purpose!

 All Colors are Good, All Palettes are Not

Remember there are no bad colors, but there are bad palettes. Keep the Harmony of the colors, a smooth transition on the eye between the pigment and the undertones make a beautiful palette. 

Color Smiles

Thanks Ceramic Matrix!

Ceramic Matrix Party, Owner Glen Chami, BHID's Troy Beasley and Stephanie Henley and designer Erin Alderman

Ceramic Matrix Party, Owner Glen Chami, BHID's Troy Beasley and Stephanie Henley and designer Erin Alderman