Rena Tom Rena Tom

Modern Gold

Hello everyone! This week, I thought I would discuss a topic that elicits strong opinions from people — gold. No, I’m not talking about the current gold market and it’s role in the financial industry (although no less of a passionate conversation starter). I am referring to the unique design role of gold as both a material and a colour. Some people adore it, some abhor it. Some see pure luxury, others see pure tackiness. It certainly is a hue that can run deftly across that spectrum and back again (sometimes in the same garment!) While I love metallics as a group, I have to admit gold has never been at the top of my favourite list. To my surprise, that opinion has changed quite a bit over the last year and I recently figured out why.

As we enter Fall 2012, fashion has exclaimed that “gold is back” and while I believe metallics are more classic than trend, it is hard to ignore this golden surge in popularity. But why? Some have wondered if it is a symptom of society crafting perceived luxury in a world of economic flux. An intriguing concept but my theory is centred on aesthetics. I feel that a new modern gold has stepped forward that mixes with unique materials, playfully peeks out in details, explores new textures and shifts into intriguing new colour directions. Gold feels more approachable, more universally flattering and more flexible than ever. As a result, people like me are embracing the metallic and exploring its new versatility. Let’s ponder this theory together! – Chloé / plenty of colour

image via wikipedia

Okay, this is when I bust out a nerdy colour chart that makes my day more than what is probably normal. When someone says gold, most people instantly envision a shiny yellow variation but in reality, gold has a wider spectrum to play with than many expect. Different combinations of silver, gold and copper yield a gorgeous array of tones ripe for exploration.

Cool Gold: Lately, a more cool-toned, universally flattering gold has emerged in design. A seemingly small shift but dramatic in terms of how we define its traditional colour. I know this shift is a core reason I am rethinking my position on the metallic.

Rose and Brass: Another example of this colour shift? The jump into the far right of the triangle as copper and gold mix to create what is now a massive trend — rose gold. Brass is similarly popular and while it is a combination of copper and zinc, it is still golden in colour and thus adding to the overall vision of modern gold.

Matte and Satin: One of my favourite new directions for gold is a more vintage, matte finish. While few can deny the fun of super shiny metallics, this elegant approach to gold softens the look and makes gold easier to mix with other colours and materials.

Black and Gold: I love the high-fashion glamour and dramatic look of black mixed with gold. Whether just one pop of metallic or on equal footing, the combination is spectacular.

White and Gold: White and gold have a peaceful, timeless elegance. I love gold typography or line patterns on white as well as the bold beauty of a striking gold lining.

Gold, Colour and Neutrals: Metallics are neutrals in their own right which is why they work well with so many hues. Gold mixed with neon has been particularly popular lately as the 1980’s make their comeback. Gold looks similarly smashing with navy blue, jewel tones, pastels, khaki, neutrals and every other colour in your Pantone guide.

Mixed Materials: Another aspect of modern gold is that the metallic is no longer reserved for luxury items but rather, explored in a casual context and on unexpected, industrial surfaces. I love the very different ways gold combines with leather, stone, concrete, wood, knits, textiles, glass, other metals, rubber and so forth.

Textured Gold: A flood of seamless metal is a hallmark of how we perceive traditional gold. I love the modern look of textured gold including hammered metal techniques, braided leather, tarnished and vintage surfaces and layers of unique sequins. This is a great area to play with both shiny and matte gold as texture enhances reflection.

Metallic Patterns: Who can resist a good pattern? From modern wallpapers to laser cut fabric or metal, gold is beautiful in a well-crafted pattern. I particularly like when gold is mixed with other metallics to create rich depth.

Gold Details: Sometimes a bit of metallic goes a long way which is why I love pops of gold on products. Modern, playful or whimsical – a hint of metallic can go any number of directions. How about a gold bordered door, metallic lipstick mark or striking bicycle feature? Paint dipped objects have been a trend for a while now and a metallic capped shoe is a Fall 2012 must-have.

Gold in Print: Branding and print design are no stranger to gold features. Gold foil is a traditional look but I love modern explorations of embossing, metallic stickers, edge painting and casual typography.

Gold Signs: It seems like gold has been been avoided in retail signage. Has it been reserved for luxury brands? While an opulent look can certainly be achieved, I think gold can be more informal and approachable. I love old school metallic hand lettering or the use of gold in just one character of a sign.

Retail Interiors: A hint of gold can bring a lovely bit of elegance to your shop interior. I adore the look of a leaning vintage mirror or a collection of modern gold pendant lights. I love the idea of painting the inside of shelves gold to enhance the space and draw the eye to what you are selling.

Gold and Art: How can we ignore retail art installations or windows? Often gold is used in the holiday season but it has versatility all year long. A striking wall of gold dressing room curtains, a couple of rose gold wall dots, a cash desk of sequins — the “wow” factor of gold can be turned up and down accordingly. I love the idea of a small gold quote on a concrete floor. Or maybe even a little spun sugar in bakery or at a shop party? As gold is eye-catching and reflects light, gold art installations or interior details are a great idea for a dark corner or shop with a strange layout.

So, how do you feel about gold? Have always loved it? Shifting your opinion? Had a bad experience in a gold lamé outfit and will never stop hating it? Personally, I love this new modern gold and how much more flattering, flexible and stylish it is. Gold can still be full of luxury and decadence but it can also be used in casual and streamlined ways. I love that spectrum of possibility and the overall light-filled qualities of metallics. Would love to hear what you think! Until next time, I am off to find more nerdy colour charts… – Chloé / plenty of colour

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  1. Sue says:

    I love your thoughts on rethinking gold and I especially love the more modern cool toned gold. You found so many great images, thanks Chloe’.

  2. […] concrete and in matte finishes. I’ve dubbed it “modern gold” and ponder it in my latest post for Rena Tom and yes, as usual, went a little nuts with the example photos! Below is a great chart […]

  3. julia says:

    We have a brass sculpture hanging over our fireplace. I love it and its patina. I’m glad gold is making a comeback!

  4. Maral Rapp says:

    What a fantastic post – and particularly near-and-dear to my heart, as I live this daily, making jewelry from *all* colors of vintage gold+brass mesh. (“Brass is the new gold!”) I agree that cooler shades have more modern appeal – people definitely prefer them. Green-gold brass is what let me embrace the color, after a lifetime of shunning it.

    You include such a span of truly wonderful looks here – I really appreciate it. (That gold-clad door jamb!) One note: Unless I’m missing something, I’d love to see the items identified in some linear order. I clicked and clicked to find my faves…

    Thanks so much for this comprehensive, mouth-watering post!

    The. Best.

    • chloe says:

      Thanks Maral! Isn’t it amazing how a certain shade of colour can shift your feelings completely? Thanks for your feedback on the sources. Although they were all listed, I realize now several weren’t in order of the images. All fixed now so hopefully there can be faster clicking and metallic inspiration finding! Thanks again…

  5. Jillian says:

    I absolutely loved this post and all of the gorgeous images you shared. As both an interior designer and jewelry designer, I find the warm metals to be just as versatile as the cool, and more flattering as well. I’ve been trying to embrace more gold, brass and copper in my wardrobe as well as my designs. Rose gold is my personal favorite.

  6. […] everyone! Last year, I wrote about the popularity of brass and a general shift towards a new modern gold hue. In fact, it feels like modernized metals have become a trend of their own, exploring new […]

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