I would like to thank my friends from the Linoleum and Pirelli companies for having proposed that I write these words on colour and the home because it gives me a further opportunity to talk of colour, to permeate life and dress with colour, to restore and reinstate the taste of colour in every one of us: the whole world must be full of colour.
Everyone more or less “dressed in grey”, or in “sombre colours” to appear more distinct (how I detest those people) is always ready to use the word “tradition”, while ignoring the fact that this tradition has always been the exception (that is, the masterpiece that sets the rule), and that vitality, force and life have always been colourful; tradition has never donned grey trousers, jackets or overcoats, which sully the personality, spirit and vitality of the wearer with that same hue. The true tradition that I adore – of which I am promoter and harbinger – has always been full of colour and vivacity.
Indeed, the buildings, interiors and ceremonies of ancient populations were always vibrant and colourful, as were their clothes. Just take the Holy Mother Church, which is a great repository of tradition! She dresses her officiating priests in canary-yellow, purple, fiery-red and emerald-green chasubles; her cardinals are dressed in “cardinal red” and her bishops in ecclesiastical purple; only the Church flaunts these magnificently provincial colours and knows no other dull hue whatsoever. She has elegant white Religious Orders (the Dominicans and Les Pères Blancs of the desert dressed like the local Tuaregs), she has female congregations dressed in light-blue and red. Her seminarists are bedecked in a vast array of colours. When I am finally acknowledged as a Saint, I will establish both a Pontian Order [a play on the author’s surname, Ponti] and a Pontian rite, and both will be as colourful as their ancient predecessors, with highly decorated churches and architecture frescoed with bold and joyous abandon. The love of God is joyful, and joy is expressed through colour. In the name of that true and great tradition full of vitality, I predict a future full of colour.
I wrote “the whole world must be full of colour” ten years ago for the fiery-red haired Daria Guarnati, to be published in Aria d’Italia, the most colourful magazine in the world. An easy and certain prophecy because one is always right when in syntony with life, because life is colour. White and black (the non-colours) are symbols of virginity and death respectively, two lifeless states which precede and follow life. In nature, non-colour does not exist: the plant and mineral kingdoms produce all colours, and coal – the only black element that exists – is burnt to produce flames which are colour, light and heat. As white as a sheet, as a shroud, as white as the non-life of the Poles and the high Alps, the “colourlessness” of mist. Black symbolises the absence of light, or even of life itself; it represents sleep, hibernation and cold, whereas Colour represents warmth.
Bronze and marble create colour whereas white plaster sculptures are academic; they convey the dearth of art and the absence of warmth. White is present in our existence only before birth: a white tendril waits to be suffused with colour to come alive: its whiteness must be violated. The whole world must be full of colour. […]
Colour is life
[…] Our roads must be full of brightly coloured cars; our railways must cease with their sombre-green and dark-yellow carriages and finally produce brilliantly coloured trains all’italiana, in true Ponti style (can’t you see how beautiful today’s buses are and how seductive they are with their wonderful array of colours?). Oh, beloved and valid engineers of our State Railways, free yourselves from your enchantment with gloomy colours; smoke and fumes are things of the past!
You can now paint trains red, white, green, yellow and blue! Cars are now being produced in colours, all types including very large vehicles, not only eccentrically coloured orange and blue agricultural vehicles. It is a blessing that black vehicles are in a minority at the Milan Automobile Fair, and even the enormous construction cranes and huge turbines of electricity power stations are now painted in yellow, green and red!
And what about the home? Coloured walls, coloured curtains and above all, coloured floorings.
[…] Colour! and through colour, true quality, and no longer merely the pretentious kind! Silence, softness and hygiene; things that find their own place!
I have a true passion for constructing things from other things: I promoted a special type of linoleum for the Vatican and for the Montecatini company; then I designed a house with a composition of coloured flooring from beautiful marbled linoleum. I made this with my own hands from a fantastically coloured rubber material, assisted by the workers and engineers and technicians of Pirelli on their machines. How wonderful it is to build, how wonderful not to attenuate but to stimulate production! I truly thank all those who have allowed me to do this. I will always be with them (and with colour) [a play on words in Italian con loro/with them and col colore/with colour]. We will be part of the powerful coloured team against the large grey team.
The Party of Festivities
David against Goliath! Ours will be the side that is alive, that will vanquish the larger and more slumberous side: ours will be the healthier party, a beautiful, popular party in which everyone appreciates colour, the party of festivities that will win against the funereal party.
If I have animated someone with these words, then they might ask me as an architect how “I can colour houses”. This is how I would do it, starting with the flooring.
There are two choices that can be made for the floors: 1) a single colour scheme, strong and vibrant and repeated throughout the entire house; 2) a colour composition scheme.
The first scheme can create a wonderful effect and characterise the entire house but the first thing to remember for those who intend to follow this is not to choose a single colour linoleum or rubber flooring. Linoleum and rubber materials will still be used for “single colour” scheme for some years more and then will leave space for Vipla products [polyvinyl chloride resins] which offer a much more vivid colour range for such applications.
Try and use variegated and “fantasy” linoleum and rubber flooring materials: they are more practical and when you lay an all-blue floor in the entire house, you’re actually creating a blue lake; match this with white walls and ceiling, Venetian blinds, textiles and light-coloured wood. Blue with yellow, sky blue, or brown are wonderful combinations. And some touches of dark cherry-red. Colours from a painting by Guidi or Campigli.
When fitting a red floor throughout the house you are creating a lake of fire, to be combined with white walls and ceiling, red curtains or even yellow or even a combination of red and yellow. Again, a wonderful combination. And then perhaps some (emerald) green touches. This time we have a painting by Sassu, or Fiume or one of de Chirico’s manikins (the only work of his worth anything).
Using yellow throughout the house is like a floor of gold; again, white walls and ceiling, and yellow or brown curtains create a solar colour scheme. And why not add some dark green or blue touches. Another painting by Campigli.
And then we could lay a green floor throughout the house: Now we have a green lake with white walls and ceiling: straw-yellow curtains and some touches of gold will recreate works by Campigli, Morandi and Casorati.
And what about an orange floor: orange is a colour that negates other colours. (With Vipla one could even try violet but perhaps in a tailor’s workshop and not at home). Strident coloured floors need white or light wood furnishings (ash or maple) and never any colour on the ceiling. A dark ceiling – dark blue, ultramarine, coffee – or a brightly coloured ceiling in gold, bottle-green or red needs a white or light grey floor to create a sort of inverse tonality. Never a coloured floor with a coloured ceiling; colours above and below would suffocate the ambience.
[…] But there is another way of creating a colour scheme.
Composition or perhaps a sequence of colours. Architecture adopts a process that contrasts that of cinema in which we have a mute scene moving in front of a stationary spectator. In architecture the spectator’s movement creates the sequence in a stationary set. What are these sequences? They are a calculated progression of colours and of effects that commence when the visitor enters the space; colours follow on one after the other in a progression that starts from the entrance, a sequence that is reversed or forms another composition when the visitor stops or walks backwards.
These compositions require white walls and furniture that match (or even contrast, it doesn’t matter) the floor and the creation of visual composites (as we said before) which are reversible (when one retraces one’s steps or when looking back). A certain level of skill is required in this. The first level is a single colour scheme together with white walls; the second level is a composition (or sequence) of different colours in the floorings but again with white walls; the third level is a play of colour on the ceiling (again with white walls and floors); the fourth level is a composition or sequence of colours between the ceiling, flooring and walls.
But these are not practical or easy indications for the reader to try out for himself. If he is an artist then he will manage without any advice, using intuition and temperament. If not, then our advice is to contact us. We will create beautiful things together.