Reading time: | Mostly too much and rarely what you’re looking for.
I own a red skiing jacket that I bought second hand in Stavanger, Norway 2006. The shop’s name is Harry Camping, but they sell everything interesting much of the stuff second hand. The name is not the program – no camping gear. It’s a funky place you would find typically in Amsterdam, Berlin or London but indeed not in Stavanger. The jacket belonged to an American ski instructor as the ski pass left in the inside pocket indicated. The jacket is red. Deep, straight red, no compromises.
Goethe writes 1810 in his book Theory of Colours on red: The effect of this colour is as unique as its nature. It gives an impression of seriousness and dignity as well as of grace and gracefulness. It achieves this in a dark, condensed state, this in its light, diluted state. And so, the dignity of old age and the kindness of youth can be dressed in one colour. History tells us many a tale of the regents’ jealousy of the purple. An environment of this colour is always serious and splendid…
My jacket has no dignity or even grace. It is red to warn others. But it does radiate some nobility because typically only ski instructors were supposed to wear red. Since my skiing skills are rather mediocre than splendid, this jacket makes me a fraud when I’m wearing it. And that is precisely why I like it so much.
Red exists in plain red, in crimson (Goethe’s purple) and cinnabar. While crimson shows the cooler, bluish side of red, cinnabar is amplified by a little yellow tint to hotness no other colour can even remotely achieve.
Whatever you try, red will draw attention like no other colour. You have to cool it down towards violet to cripple its power as a signal colour. This brutal force is the reason why red rarely works meaningfully. That fact, however, doesn’t stop people from using the colour red arbitrarily for whatever. In the end, we get colour conglomerates that can be best described as motley: no design but hope or dull negligence.