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the colours of our world

From Habitat magazine - issue 14

The colours we choose are often inspired by where we live, and that changes from region to region, country to country.

Influenced by the diverse and ever-changing moods of our environment, colour preferences change from region to region, in many subtle and dramatic ways. For every location, there is a Resene palette to reflect the complex blend of myriad elements that make every place unique. Interior designers from various locations tell us how their place in the world influences colour.

Auckland – Amanda Neill, Designworx

Auckland is a subtropical coastal haven of sea, land and sky. Hazy summer days inspire a wash of colours which soften in the fading light at the day’s end. Volcanic landforms, especially Rangitoto Island, pull toward the skies where white wisps of cloud travel across the blue. On the West Coast, sooty charcoal sands glisten in the sun and everywhere, the coast is shot with the deep red of pohutukawa (Resene Pohutukawa) flowers. The human side of Auckland is the traffic, the charcoal grey of new roads, a sense of movement and activity.

Amanda Neill
Amanda Neill

The colours of the sea range from watery blues to greens. At mid-day these colours are clear and bright, but in the soft morning light and the evening haze, they soften to Resene Undercover, and Resene Bluegrass – ambiguous, transitional hues.

Whites are not crisp but stony, like Resene Albescent White, from a softer spectrum of light and reflecting the clouds. It contrasts with Resene Gravel, a complex deep green-grey charcoal with a name that celebrates the essence of life and which grounds the colour palette.

None of these colours is clear or harsh, representing Auckland’s softer side of sea, land and sky.

Christchurch – Rachel Eade, Frobisher Interiors

Christchurch is a city full of gardens, parks, sweeping lawns and towering trees. The centrally located Hagley Park is home to the Botanical Gardens, showcasing flora from New Zealand and around the world. The gently flowing Avon River winds through the city, lined with grassy banks, poplars and weeping willows. Resene Secret Garden, a moss, olive green with a yellow undertone is splashed with Resene Code Red, a fine blend of pink and red, typical of the bold, bright, breathtaking surroundings.

Rachel Eade
Rachel Eade

Christchurch’s inner-city is a special place to explore with its outstanding 19th century greystone buildings. Like the architecture, Resene Nest Egg, a dense, mid-toned grey brown and Resene Villa White, a smooth cream white, represent the heritage buildings. They create a sense of identity and add to the city’s English atmosphere.

Between the Southern Alps and Pacific Ocean lie the Canterbury Plains, a patchwork of greens. Resene Alibi, an alkaline gold, leans towards green to reflect the mix of grazing grass, wheat, herbs and sunflowers. Mixes of Resene Alibi, Resene Nest Egg and Resene Villa White are all evident in the tussock grasslands and rugged rock.

Wellington – Claire Drake, Limited Editions

Wellington nestles beside the beautiful blue waters of Te Whanganui-a-Tara (the great harbour of Tara), and is surrounded by hills covered in native bush. Wellington is the seat of government; add in the wind and this is a robust place where people gather indoors to debate, to drink good coffee or wine, and to enjoy the arts and theatre. The sea, sky and native bush are essential to Wellington’s palette. Resene Kumutoto reflects the harbour and sky on a beautiful day, while Resene Grey Olive and Resene Double Arrowtown nod to the variegated bush and add warmth, complexity and depth.

Claire Drake
Claire Drake

Resene Ignition is the soft, warm bronze of a flat white and its metallic finish adds an edge. It also reflects the bronzes which show in the landscape at dusk. Finally Resene Thorndon Cream is an old white which suits Wellington’s historic inner-city and its oldest suburb. Complex, warm tones with a splash of blue – that’s Wellington on a good day!

Sydney – Jayne Hamparsum, JH Design

Sydney is sandy beaches, sandstone cliffs (Resene Bedrock) shopping, outdoor entertaining, landmarks and the bustle of the city. Resene Aquarius reflects the ocean and sky. Hot summer days stretch on forever just like the coastline. We spend days at the beach soaking up the sun and cooling off in the refreshing ocean, followed by balmy nights with fresh seafood on the barbie washed down with amber ale or chilled wine.

Jayne Hamparsum
Jayne Hamparsum

Sydney is a shopping mecca of boutiques, malls, markets and ethnic neighbourhoods (Resene Shiraz). A bustling CBD sits on the edge of a majestic harbour with the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge (Resene Blast Grey 1) and the Opera House (Resene Rice Cake). Skyscrapers dwarf the city workers and there’s never-ending traffic. The summer sky is the clearest brightest blue and the sunsets are vibrant oranges, pinks and purples. The blues and greens of the ocean are a stark contrast to the glistening sand and the froth of the waves.

Brisbane – Rowena Cornwell, Coop Creative

In what is known as Australia’s hilly city, our delicate timber houses with their burnished corrugated roofs (Resene Triumph) sit high up on stilts, vying for attention.

Rowena Cornwell
Rowena Cornwell

Traditional Queenslander houses line our ridges and in spring their silhouettes are softened by blue (Resene Beyond) and the flowers of the jacaranda. Vivid greens sprinkle the landscape, like Resene Area 51. Pillows of vegetation lead down to the river where its murky and uninviting water creates a boundary that defines us as edge dwellers.

The traditional verandas of our houses have, in recent years, matured into the outdoor room. We view the world framed by shade, Resene Foundry, and the relief it gives from the baking sun. We are left breathless on a hot summer day when the humidity reaches 90 degrees. There is nothing else to do but we retreat inside and wait for clouds to appear in the washed-out sky, Resene Breathless, and bring invigorating rain.

Samoa – Tiffany Acton, Quantum Contrax

Resene Escape is the soft blue sky that reaches to the horizon, and touches the lush green volcanic mountain-tops that stand strong in the heart of the two main islands. Resene Sea Fog is the lazy clouds that float in and out of form throughout the sun-filled days, and the white water of reef breakers that hold back the dramatic depths of the deep Pacific Ocean.

Tiffany Acton
Tiffany Acton

Resene Sea Fog also depicts the beautiful innocence of Samoa’s culture and the strong Christian faith across the islands. Sundays are filled with church bells; men, women and children dressed in their Sunday whites walk the sandy paths to church, singing their praises and giving thanks. Resene Awash is the lighter shade of the Pacific Ocean that laps at the island’s edge. It is the calm waters borne from the halo of a coral reef.

Resene Landmark is the rich vegetation that covers the land and brings it to life. It bears abundant fruits, vegetables, and raw materials to provide a livelihood for its people. Resene Vibe is the celebration of bounteous vibrant plants which we use to make our humble homes beautiful with colour. Bursts of these colourful plants are everywhere, whether you are walking the footpaths in town, driving the coastal roads, or sitting in the cool shade of a tamaligi tree.

pictures: Mark Heaslip, Juliet Nicholas, Nicola Edmonds

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Printed copies of habitat highlights are available from late March 2024 at Resene ColorShops and resellers, while stocks last. You can view back issues of habitat magazine online.

If you have an idea, project or story that you think would suit habitat, we’d love to hear from you. Please drop us an email with your details and include photos if submitting a project.

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