On Potter’s Pink

To mark the launch of our new seasonal colour, author and colour expert Kassia St. Clair explores the tempestuous nature of pink, that paler shade of red. 

Pink has always had exceedingly spirited champions. Marilyn Monroe sashayed her way through ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in what would become an iconic hot pink belted gown. Diana Vreeland, the legendary magazine editor, quipped that it was the ‘navy blue of India.’ While the designer Elsa Schiaparelli, upon encountering what would become her signature ‘Shocking’ shade, wrote that it was ‘bright, impossible, impudent…like all the lights and the birds and the fish in the world together.’

At the other end of pink’s spectrum, Robert Adam, the Neoclassical architect who popularised lighter, subtler pink schemes two centuries earlier, was no less feisty. A veteran of the Grand Tour and a student of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Adam began his career by savaging the work of his rival James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. Adam derided Stuart’s (largely green) designs for Spencer House as pityfulissimo, and those for Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire ‘so excessively and ridiculously bad…[they] beggared all description.’  

Adam’s own vision for Kedleston, which he duly executed when he was hired in Stuart’s place, was exuberant in its use of pink. The spectacular Marble Hall, for example, had a pale pink ceiling and walls and was lined with rosy alabaster columns. His style – which he deployed at many grand houses and was widely copied – has had a lasting impact on interior design to this day. 

Adam would have been surprised, then, by the idea – so ingrained today – that pinks are inherently feminine. In his day, they were more aligned with men. This was because they were seen less as a separate colour and more as pale reds, a hue associated with clerical and military uniforms, energy, power, and wealth. It wasn’t until the 20th century that a shift was made. Over the course of several decades, it became the default colour for any product, idea, or service aimed at women and girls; ‘shrink it and pink it’ was the lazy marketing mantra.  

Neptune’s new Potter’s Pink is neither the full-blooded shade associated with Monroe and Schiaparelli, nor the commercialised Legally Blonde and Barbie tone, nor even that beloved of Adam, which is perhaps best described as the colour of a cherub’s blushes. Imagine instead something more earthy, natural, and lived-in, with undertones of grey and yellow. The kind of tint that puts you in mind of freshly applied gypsum plaster, straight-from-the-earth red clay deposits or sun-dappled, faded Italian palazzos. Characterful enough to steal the scene on its own but, unlike Adam, equally capable of playing well with others. The kind of colour, in other words, that is more than capable of being its own champion.

Meet Potter's Pink  

Our new seasonal shade takes its name from the delicate freshness of un-fired pottery clay. With the subtle look of raw plaster on walls, it has a sense of earthy texture and historic precedence. Potter’s Pink works beautifully across whole rooms (and even ceilings), where it feels both light and cocooning. It also serves as a natural foil to dark timbers and organic textures like linen and sheepskin.  

Made in the UK, this water-based paint is very low in VOCs and available in emulsion and eggshell.

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