Cobalt blue is color rushing our summer

A survey conducted by the home décor retailer 1stDibs anticipated the color’s popularity when 750 participating designers identified cobalt blue as the top blue of the year. (Photo: NYTimes)
Your eyes are not deceiving you: You are, in fact, seeing cobalt blue everywhere.

It’s popping up in the design of Instagram-famous brands like Glossier and Great Jones; it’s featured prominently in new lines of cookware, glassware, loungewear, and even cookbooks.اضافة اعلان

When millennial pink dominated in 2016, it was believed to be a response to current events (“A moment of ambivalent girliness,” Véronique Hyland wrote in The Cut); so is the prevalence of cobalt blue, a shade that’s highly saturated yet cool. Bold, yet soothing.

Fashion designer Azeeza Khan, a fan of pigmented colors, insisted that she use cobalt blue in her recently released outdoor furniture line with CB2. “With so much turmoil in the world right now, it’s important to bring joy to life’s moments,” she said. “Color serves as a mood lifter and cobalt evokes tranquility.”

Blue reminds us of the ocean and skies, but Khan, who lives in Chicago, added that “the saturation of cobalt blue adds an intensity and strength that feels provocative.”

Angeles Morales, 23, felt compelled to incorporate cobalt blue into her senior collection at the Savannah College of Art and Design. A core garment was a crop top with long, puffed sleeves in a luminous cobalt blue silk taffeta. “For me it’s a very powerful color,” she said, comparing it to “royalty in a way, but at the same time, it’s a calming color.”

A survey conducted by the home décor retailer 1stDibs anticipated the color’s popularity when 750 participating designers identified cobalt blue as the top blue of the year (interest in navy, by contrast, dropped 43 percent since last year, the company said). It’s proven out as information provided by the RealReal shows that there’s been a 35 percent increase in demand for cobalt blue pieces across their secondhand marketplace since the second half of 2021.

While cobalt blue is enjoying renewed popularity, it is in fact a hue with rich history. Cobalt is silvery-blue metal in its raw form, and was used in Chinese porcelain and Babylon ceramic glazes because of the vibrant hue created when fired.

Louis Jacques Thénard, a chemist, created a synthetic version of the color in the early 1800s and it quickly became popular with artists like Vincent van Gogh, who used it in “Starry Night.” The hue also has notable associations like Jardin Majorelle, the one-time estate of Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech, Morocco.

Cobalt blue-hued dyes gained popularity in women’s garments in the 1830s, said Sarah Collins, a professor of fashion at the Savannah College of Art and Design. “Previously, blue had long been a popular color, especially for royalty and people of importance — think about how the Virgin Mary is often depicted in bright blue — since it faded quickly and had to be redyed, therefore making it expensive,” Collins said. In the early 1800s, “the new cobalt blue was fade-resistant, making it popular as a dye,” she added.

Sherród Faulks, 34, a ceramist with Deep Black, has an affinity for the color thanks to a “happy accident” at his studio in Portsmouth, Virginia. He experimented with a new blue glaze in the summer of 2020, and when Faulks pulled the piece out of his kiln he was smitten with the striking shade.

It quickly became a staple of his collection and it caught the attention of brands like Madewell and Great Jones. Because it’s so rarely seen in nature, “it’s one of those colors that screams man-made in, I think, the best way possible,” Faulks said. “It has an almost mythical quality to it.”

Other deep, saturated blues similar to cobalt blue are also popular right now. Lapis, one such blue, shares a similar essence in the sense that it’s oceanic, highly pigmented, and is associated with wealth: Lapis lazuli was a highly sought out Egyptian stone that was ground up to create the color ultramarine.

Lele Sadoughi, an accessories designer, introduced a collection of earrings and headbands earlier this year with colors inspired by jade, quartz and obsidian (and used the stones themselves). “Our lapis earring drops and matching headband have been the most popular stone for us,” Sadoughi said. “I think this deep blue still feels like a neutral, but is richer than your classic black and ivory.”

Maddy Hart, 32, is an environmental planner in Tallahassee, Florida, who was drawn to reds and oranges in décor and fashion for most of her life until she bought a swimsuit from Youswim in cobalt blue last year. She began incorporating the color into her wardrobe and even has plans to paint her bathroom vanity in cobalt blue.

“I’ve realized over the past year of looking for this color instead of other colors, it’s very calming,” Hart said, adding, “It’s also attention-grabbing in a very positive way to me.”

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