The colour of roses, ripe summer fruits, and heady wine, red is decadent and indulgent. It symbolises love, passion and romance, and can transform a space with its invigorating energy.
With this in mind, we’re exploring exactly how red can be used to add a splash of joy de vivre into your home, and shining a spotlight on some of the very best red wall art for re-energising your décor.
Red: a colour of extremes
Red, as the colour of blood, symbolises vitality, power, and passion. It’s a bold and daring colour that inspires action. Excitement, sensuality, and seduction—think carmine red lips and burgundy wine—are just a few of connotations of the colour red. Yet red can also serve as a warning, oftentimes symbolising danger, anger, and aggression. All in all, it’s a colour of extremes, but when used in moderation, red design elements can bring a positive, vibrant energy into your home. For centuries, red was regarded as a rare and luxurious colour. The oldest and best known example in which the colour red plays a leading role is the work ‘The Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii’, a Roman mural with a striking red background. Traditionally, works such as these would have a yellow background made from ochre. To create a red base, cinnabar or oil powder were added to the mix: an expensive process reserved for decorating the homes of the rich and powerful. In later centuries, the colour red was produced through complex processes by alchemists, thus maintaining its status as a luxury. Thanks to its scarcity, it was reserved for the ruling classes, who often wore red accessories and clothing as they sat for their portraits. This was a means for the upper echelons to symbolise and immortalise their power through the medium of paint — a prime example of life imitating art.
The red spectrum
These days, red is produced on an industrial scale through much less magical and mysterious means, but it’s still possible to make a statement with this bold hue. From fashion to architecture, red features prominently across all artistic disciplines. And no matter how extensively it’s used in a design, it never fails to stand out. But why is this? Of all colours, red has the longest wavelength, which means it reaches our sight first and therefore stands out the most. So, when it comes to making a statement with red interior design elements, you need to tread carefully. Depending on how much of the colour you introduce into your overall colour scheme, and what you choose to pair it with, red can undoubtedly make or break a room. Just as there are fifty shades of grey, there are also several shades of red. Combining red with blue creates a dignified shade—think of scarlet, a royal colour reminiscent of red velvet curtains, wealth and, for Game of Thrones fans, the House of Lannister. From South America to Europe, this luxuriant tone encapsulates and emphasizes authority, something that can be traced back to the rarity of the colour in earlier times. However, when combined with yellow, it transforms into a sharp, shocking red: a colour that frequently appears in advertising, denoting confidence, vitality and dynamism.
"We Can Do It" — this infamous slogan is instantly recognisable, as is the image itself: a self-assured woman, sleeves rolled up, ready to work. The red headscarf she wears conveys strength and functionality, and symbolises the revolutionary feminism of the ‘40’s and ‘50’s. Feminism, socialism, communism—many left-wing activist movements throughout history have found representation in this striking shade of red, and continue to do so to this day. Which brings us, of course, to passion: whether passion for a cause, for a lover, or for life itself, passion is woven throughout our lives, inspiring us to move forward and better ourselves.
Balance is key
If you want to breathe life into your living room, combine prints featuring a touch of red with cooler tones for a balanced aesthetic. Red works best when introduced as an accent colour in hallways or communal spaces, as it can be overwhelming when used excessively. As red is a stimulating colour, we recommend hanging red wall art where it won’t be in constant view—for spaces in which you want to wind-down and switch off after a long day, a flourish of red here and there will go a long way. That said, red décor can have a vitalising effect that increases productivity and stimulates our subconscious to take action, making it the perfect choice for an office space or studio where you can let your creativity roam free.
Has all that red got your blood flowing? Take a look at our red collection.
Text: Laura Veneklaas
Translation: Caitlin Hughes