Master colourist Giulio Ridolfo selects colours to sustain us as we navigate the tangled emotions and yearning for comfort and tranquility that characterise summer 2021. Ridolfo talks to Jane Withers, author of Materialising Colour – Journeys with Giulio Ridolfo. Photography by Howard Sooley.
01. India Indigo
A mood board made by Ridolfo to capture the indigo blues of India.
‘For me this is about tranquility and intimacy, a story of meditative calm. Pristine cottons with wools – what we call ‘biancheria’, lingerie. Layers of rough, rustic, and beautiful textiles can carry us to a place of safety. They are not indulgent colours, they are colours that keep us company.’
2. White on white – humble beauty
Slipper making in the Friuli home of master ‘scarpetti’ maker Massimo Masolini.
‘Here you can see the hand stitching and the layers of cotton that make up the sole of the slipper. To me it conveys the sense of taking time to prepare things, like cooking with flour. Enjoying human touch and making things again, an everyday liturgy.’
3. Summer storm greys
New colours for the fabric range Steelcut Trio, prepared in the Midsummer light in Jutland.
‘These colours capture the tranquility of being inside and the drama of being outside. There is a line just visible between the horizon and the sea. There is a calmness in it, the calm after the storm. Somehow those stormy colours give a sense of protection.’
4. Midsummer yellows
In the process of selecting colours over Midsummer, Giulio wraps stalks of Hypericum, or St John’s wort, in threads to celebrate the eve of San Giovanni.
‘This is about yellows. Capturing the maximum moment of summer. Celebrating important moments of the year and connecting with the seasons and ancient rituals through colour.’
5. Indecisive blues
Translating Indian dyes in the Wooltex laboratory in Huddersfield.
‘This drawing describes the relation between colours – red to blue, black red, black blue. The yarns were dyed in India and capture tones of non-predictable blues. They are an indecision in colour, and make us think of open air, breathing well, having a beautiful sky and a view of the horizon.’
6. Alchemical tones
Soft wool dyed sandy, neutral tones to complement dominant colours.
‘These fluffy textures are about being cocooned, materials that create intimacy. We need organic elements, materials that when you touch them you feel the grain. These colours speak of origins, of earth and minerals. Reconnecting to deep nature and a kind of alchemy.’
7. Blue and red integrated with green
Giulio creating an installation in the woods using Kvadrat’s Remix fabric.
‘These images are about the beauty of noble materiality with noble nature. Every time you lay out a tablecloth for a picnic you create a relationship with the natural world. Taking textiles outside integrates the colours and softness of the material with the wild branches of the tree, the humus and the composition of the landscape.’
8. Surprising saxifrage
Saxifrage growing in the cracks of the Verzegnis marble quarry in Friuli.
‘This saxifrage is strong and gentle at the same time – its ability to flourish in inhospitable ground gives us a lesson in resistance. The colours of both the rocks and the plant are surprising, but the combination is perfect. Nature often suggests good ideas you would never have thought of by yourself.’