Do you have any design crushes? I’ve admired the creative genius of Quirk & Rescue for some time and I’m always thrilled to see their latest design offerings. Recently, I bumped into Tania James, aka Quirk & Rescue‘s Ms. Pink, and I have to say it was one of the colour highlights of my year so far. From incredible wallpaper, cushions and prints through to bespoke hand-painted furniture, the signature style of Ms. Pink and design partner Mr. Black uses bold colours combined with flat graphics in a pleasingly classic yet distinctly modern way. They also happen to have THE most spectacular and original wall of trays in their hallway. Here, Ms. Pink tells me all about what colour means to her…and yes, there’s definitely some pink in there…
Martha: Can you describe your first colour memory?
Ms. Pink: My first colour memory is a bucket full of dye in the kitchen. My Mum was an Art teacher and very keen on dyeing clothes by hand. Tee shirts, dresses, dungarees, all tied with string and put in the bucket. The colours were orange or purple (it was the 70s) so consequently my sister and I had a choice of orange or purple. in those days there was no such thing as a machine dye so everything to be re-coloured went in the bucket, which had it’s own long stick for regular stirring. The stirring was the exciting bit for me and my little sister, the end product not so much!
Martha: Do you have a favourite colour and has this changed over the years?
Ms. Pink: My favourite colour is pink but it hasn’t always been. From my early teens till late 30s it was orange (early programming via my Mum!) but this was interspersed with purple, green and yellow hair. I actually used to hate pink and all I felt it stood for, princesses, weddings, girly girls, Barbies etc etc… Everything I disliked! As a young Punk in the early 80s I actively rebelled against tradition and what was expected of me so I really disliked pink. Now my favourite colour combo is orange and pink. Go figure!
Martha: What is your favourite colourful object/objects and why?
Ms. Pink: Oh gosh, I’m not sure I can choose. I think it has to be my collection of 60s and 70s trays closely followed by my collection of coloured bottles and vintage book covers.
Martha: How does colour make you feel? To what extent do you use it in your work or personal life to influence your moods or those of people who buy your products?
Ms. Pink: I cannot imagine a life without being surrounded by colour. From the age of 13 I had dyed hair. My eldest son, now 22 created my favourite colour anecdote of all time, he was in reception class, we were walking to school and I said ‘ I’m dyeing my hair today so it’ll have changed by the time I come to pick you up. It was changing from orange to red, nothing too extreme but he said “Oh, please don’t dye it brown, that would be so embarrassing!” Not because he was a great colour fan but he’d only ever known me with dyed hair, I was the ‘dyed hair Mum’ and if I changed it it would make him stand out and in my experience of having three boys that is not on!
Martha: Do you have a colour you could happily do without?
Ms. Pink: YES! I really dislike brown and all its relatives (beige, taupe, magnolia etc) and I’m really not fond of blue. I appreciate a good Klein blue, but generally, blue is not for me.
Martha: How does colour get involved in your day-to-day life? Does it permeate your life from the moment you wake to the moment you go to sleep?
Ms. Pink: I’m surrounded by colour in my home and my wardrobe full of colour and pattern! I own one black dress. Colour is a constant in my life, I literally feel dead without it.
Martha: If you work with colour, how do you choose colours for your work and where does your colour inspiration come from?
Ms. Pink: We (myself and the other half of Quirk and Rescue, Mr Black) have a lot of discussions/arguments about colour, but we can usually come to an agreement. I’m not sure I garner inspiration from anywhere in particular as colour has been with me from such a young age.
Martha: Do you think there are rules about colour or are rules made to be broken?
Ms. Pink: Great question. I think there are no rules, especially in your own home. If you like a colour combination, then you like it, it doesn’t have to be explained. Saying that though, I really dislike orange and green together which still puzzles me as there are many flowers that are orange (with green stems) and of course there are a few national flags and football kits that are orange and green.
Martha: Do you have any stories or anecdotes about colour in your life?
Ms. Pink: It’s another one involving my children! Recently my youngest (aged 12) had his first secondary school parents evening and specifically asked me not to wear my green leopard print trousers and pink leopard print jacket. I ‘dressed down’ in my one black dress…
Martha: Do you have any colour ‘secrets’, maybe something nobody knows about you in relation to colour, or has colour ever got you into trouble?…
Ms. Pink: I’ve had a think about this and I would love to have a colour secret, but I wear my colours on my sleeve, sometimes literally!
Martha: If you could give people advice about using colour, what would it be?
Ms. Pink: In terms of your home, if you’re a bit reticent with colour, start small. A colourful print, a colourful cushion or one colourful wall. Live with it and see how it makes you feel on a daily basis. If you’re still not sure, go with whatever makes you feel comfortable. The same applies to clothing, a colourful scarf or a pair of earrings is a great way to introduce colour to your wardrobe, even colourful shoes can add a boost to an otherwise neutral outfit.
Martha: Finally, if you had a colour named in your honour, what colour would it be & why?
Ms. Pink: Easy. It would have to be a shade of neon pink, but I’d like it to be called ‘Ms. Pink’ because, well, that’s who I am.
- Find out more about Quirk & Rescue here
Published 17 July 2019