Wednesday, 27 February 2013

How Yellow Makes You Blue (and other color conundrums)

My first daughter was born after three boys. She is our resident princess whose every girlie desire is fulfilled to the T. To be clear, I'm in love with my boys. We have a blast being wild and crazy together and I've even taught them how to make potato kugel. But, in my mind, a frilly pink onesie with a matching organza hair clip trumps a blue onesie on any day.

Of course, that's just my humble opinion - and apparently, now that la princessa has turned four, my fashion opinion is irrelevant. 

Our morning standardly looks like this: I take out a gorgeous floral jumper with coordinating shirt and tights which she promptly rejects in favor of her brown turtle-neck, navy skirt, and pink,grey,and white striped tights. Mortified, I  personally bring her to gan making sure to engage the ganenet in conversation and "casually" mention that her ensemble was princess' choice and most certainly not mine. 
She'll never be a fashionista and her future as an interior designer looks bleak but there is an element to her stubbornness (I mean, steadfastness) that I really enjoy. This is a kid who knows which color palette makes her happy.

The whole topic of color stands at the very center of good interior design.

When you approach interior design, you likely do so in a couple of different ways - choosing objects and colors that simply look attractive or using an existing pattern or theme to dictate your decisions. Both are fine (and safe) ways to infuse color into your home. However, color is a powerful tool that can be used to inspire emotions or simply set the mood and atmosphere for any particular room. 

Of course, your feelings about color can also be deeply personal and are often rooted in your own experience or culture. Still, research does show that we all share some basic responses to color. 

There are commonly noted psychological effects of color as it relates to two main categories: warm and cool. 
The reds, oranges, and yellows of the color wheel are referred to as the warm colors. These colors create more adrenaline which causes your blood pressure to rise. This increases your heart rate which increases your body temperature. Of course, the more saturated the color, the greater the effect. Warm colors can spark a variety of emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger.

On the other side of the color wheel, greens and blues- are referred to as the cool colors. They are said to make us feel cool by slowing our heartbeat, relaxing our muscles, and lowering our body temperature. Cool colors often spark feelings of calmness and tranquillity. 

Here is a short list of commonly observed associations with specific colors. Notice if any of these associations ring true for you as well:

Red: love, warmth, excitement, and passion. Red is a color that increases enthusiasm and motivates to action.

Light Blue: health, tranquillity, calmness  

Dark Blue: stability, trust, integrity, and power.

Green: rest, relaxation, nature, growth, freshness. Green is soothing and restful on the eye.

Purple: tranquillity, opulence, and wisdom. Because it appears so rarely in nature, purple can sometimes feel artificial or exotic.

Yellow: Cheerfulness and sunshine. However, in its most saturated form, yellow is most likely to cause eye strain and is prone to make babies cry. 

Brown: wholesomeness and practicality, orderliness, grounded with a connection to Earth. 

Color is a massive topic which goes way beyond the scope of one post. Next time we'll see how color is used in interior design to effect desired responses - not that color psychology is a tool used by interior designers alone.  Color psychology plays a prominent role in marketing and branding specifically. Yep, We're all playing with your mind. 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Who "Wood"a Known?

I think that living in Israel is fantastic for my middot (character). Every time I start to feel self centred, I peer out my window at the 10 year old boy helping an old lady with her groceries. When I need a push to simplify, I take a walk through the alleyways of Beis Yisrael, where real people still live contently in miniature apartments built sometime in the late 1800's. 

And, when I need a dose of humility, I need only to open my mouth and attempt to articulate myself to the nice-ish lady from the gas company who's becoming increasingly less nice by the minute as I try, for the third time, to explain that there is a flood in my boys' room because of a gaping hole that their technician left in my exterior wall. "Yesh mabul biglal chor" I say, "biglal hatechnai". "Nu?" Gas Lady responds. I'm so tempted to tell her that I really am intelligent in English but, thankfully, my wounded pride won't allow me to stoop that low. 

But not all customer experiences in Israel were created equal and while humility certainly has it's place, the job of a consumer is to be his or her own advocate. We, as Anglos, can even the playing field in our favor by arming ourselves with information and a critical eye. 

A very relevant example is cabinets - bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.
You are about to shell out a sizable sum and you want to make sure that you get the most for your investment.

You can go into the store knowing that you "want something quality" and perhaps your neighbor even warned you to only buy "sandvich" OR you can walk in knowing the following:

Typically, the material used for construction of a cabinet carcase (body) in Israel is "sandvich" (known in the alter heim as "plywood") or "Sibit" (particle board).
Sandvich is an engineered wood product that is made of a sandwich (hence the name) of thin layers of wood. Each layer is laid with the grain running at 90 degrees to the layer below. The result is a strong and dimensionally stable material.
Particle board is a composite sheet material made by combining wood particles with glue and then heated and pressed into sheets.

Particle Board

Plywood is generally the preferred choice because it is more resistant to moisture (note: I did not say waterproof.) and it holds fasteners (nails, screws) better than particle board.

That said, within each category there is an entire range of qualities. Saying that a cabinet is made of sandvich gives as much information as saying that your sheets are made of cotton. Thread count? Fiber? Weave? Finish?

This is where many consumers are fooled. They hear "sandvich adom" and they're sold. Nowadays, almost all wood sheets are manufactured and imported from china so that the "sandvich" of today can't compare to the sandvich of 10 years ago. 

You need to know if your wood is approved by the Israel standards authority (machon hatkanim) and if it's been sufficiently protected during transportation. 

In addition, you can ask the carpenter to see a sample of his wood. A quality sheet of sandvich usually has at least 9 layers of ply. Also, if you see gaps and imperfections on the edge, you know that the wood is of lesser quality (though still usable). 

The quality of sibbit is defined by the density of the particle chips and the quality of the glue. 

As an aside, Sandvich is a good choice for a static application like the cabinet body but not for a door or drawer front which is constantly in motion. Doors are typically made of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) and covered with laminate (formica) or veneer (forneer).  

The most important information that you can get from any manufacturer or carpenter is 2 or 3 names of previous customers. Reputation and recommendations are critical. Do your due dilligence, make an informed choice, and then enjoy your new furniture!