|The Yonghe Temple in Beijing: No fear of color.|
All this is justified in the name of that contemptible concept, “good taste”, which at any given time is nothing more than the taste of those in authority. And the plain fact is that most design review boards are controlled by persons with a decidedly mainstream sensibility, which they righteously attempt to impose on everyone else. To their great dismay, not everyone’s color preferences are as sedate as those of central Europeans like me. And thank God for that, or America would be a pretty boring place.
|A street scene in Burano, northern Italy. Why do we find color|
charming in other places, but not next door to us?
|Reconstructed actual colors|
found on the frieze of the Parthenon.
Colors have played such a large role in design history that some have lent their names to historical periods. In the United States, the proliferation of brownstone architecture during the 1870s earned that era earned that era the name Brown Decade; likewise, the 1890s were dubbed the Mauve Decade for their love of that royal shade. In fact, the entire Victorian era was notable for its lavish use of rich colors.
Times change, however. Since Modernism swept the U.S. after World War II, mainstream architectural colors have seldom wandered too far from off-whites or mild pastels. Unfortunately, this fashion—and make no mistake, that’s all it is—has been institutionalized by civic officials who now feel entitled to nix any colors which cross the boundary of Butter-Mints pastels. Consequently, cultured people who deserve the freedom to make their own color choices must instead submit to having “acceptable” colors dictated to them on the grounds of good taste.
|Stortorget Square in Stockholm, Sweden: Red isn't the|
only color the Swedes paint their houses.
When confronted with this obvious bias, defenders of color restrictions retreat behind the same tired hypothetical question, along the lines of: “Well, how would you like it if your neighbor painted his house purple with green trim?”
|Actually, these colors offend me much more than|
any of the ones above. But no doubt the design review board
just loved them.