That zestful hue

Special to The Times

When orange arrived on the decor scene a few years back it was a colorful addition to the house party. Orange added zest to the table; you could even find it cavorting on the carpet or wearing a lampshade. That was fine, fun even. No one expected this vivacious guest to stay for very long.

Now, however, orange has become a postmodern standard, even for furniture. Everywhere you look, it’s powder-coated or injection molded onto surfaces. You can find lacquered nesting tables with all the punch of a tequila sunrise and Philippe Starck dining chairs the color of a Mimosa.

It may not be for every taste, but a splash of orange never hurt anyone. If it seems too pungent, start with something small. No one knows this better than Hermes, the Parisian luxury goods brand, which has used orange as its signature color for decades, offering it in a wide variety of leather goods.

A highly saturated color, orange shows off texture beautifully. Following the strong example set by Hermes, Crate & Barrel uses orange leather to wrap a vase in voluptuous coils. An orange mohair cushion has a plushness that would be far less evident in the same pillow in beige.


Enameled orange exhibits a play of white highlights that have the sweet mellowness of a Creamsicle. Orange plexiglass seems as waxy as a piece of candy corn. Illuminated orange paper, such as you’d find in Noguchi’s Akari lamp, a 20th century classic that looks nothing like a jack-o'-lantern, simply glows. Orange glass can be fiery or matte but is always transcendent in its translucence. Even a river rock lacquered in orange is, according to the creators of Zen stones, a meditative object promoting “harmony, compassion and comfort.” No matter how vivid or subdued, orange still has juice. A day or a home without it seems absolutely un-Californian.