Who Names Those Paint Colors?

Color Therapy

I see by last week’s coverage of a recent New York Times article that nomenclature is used to seduce us into buying paint during tough times. And since lately I’ve been so busy my head feels like it’s coming to a point, let’s play a game — I think we should name a few colors of our own.

In my view, it was Ralph Lauren in particular that changed the way color was defined in the late 90s. Instead of White Dove or Dove White, we suddenly had things like Tudric Pewter and Atlantic Winter to describe a soft grey, and a branding institution was born. Sometimes he’s spot on, and sometimes I roll my eyes heavenward and hold my sides in mirth.

But now, as per this article, there is a whole new set of rules for suggestively selling paint. For one thing, colors like Pale Blush and Baby’s Breath are out, though never retired completely. “Evocative” becomes a key word, and Weekend In the Country is used to describe a grocery bag brown. Or, we’re throwing out narrative all together, and calling paint by their thing-ness: File Cabinet, Pencil, Lunch Bag. But what’s most refreshing is that paint companies aren’t shying away from names that previously held a negative connotation, like Dead Salmon or Tornado.

So here’s the fun part—let’s make three lists of our own: your favorite paint colors with hideous names that you love to use anyway; your favorite colors with a spot-on name that completely capture the moment; and most importantly, a list of your own made-up names that you’ve created yourself. For the record, I look askance at all of this and my favorite Fine Paints of Europe for the most part goes by number, not name. As always, I believe in results.

Ridiculous (but I use them anyway):

Tudric Pewter
Nairobi Dusk
Turret Stair
Mercer
Café on the Riviera
Hot Lips

Bravo (these capture the color):

Classic Brown
Blue Leather
Claret
Skimming Stone
Dior Gray
Deep Bronze Green
Orangery

When I’m Dictator of the Universe (my take on paint color names):

Agent Orange
Green Around the Gills
Pancake Batter
Bruise
Inner Lip
Disco Ball
Girly Pink
Boxwood
Scab
Bandol Rouge
Teddy Bear Brown
Maltese Puppy
Dirty Snow
Renaissance Woodcut
Dark Ages White
Cupcake Blue
Underwater Blue
Fast Food Yellow
Maroon Corduroy From the 70s

Image: Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter