Project Wales ~ The Leek

Today we look to the LEEK for inspiration, on our quest to not only understand Wales’ design DNA but to influence it.

So far I am beginning to get the impression that we must look to the nations most obvious emblems and motifs, if we want to build a strong and worthy design identity that is all WALES.

Slate, Steel, the Landscape and Anthracite are in the mix, but we have to analyse the Leek, Wales’ national emblem, to build a stronger recognisable vernacular. Using these motifs directly wouldn’t work which is why I look at how to channel these notions of contemporary Wales with a slightly oblique and more soulful perspective.

The Leek palette includes a dark, matt green leaf that often has a mildewy bloom on it, this introduces a paler, soapy green. This quickly fades into a creamy white base with tendril roots in flint white. Then, within the leek and in cooking, a dark lime appears, slightly acid but deep and rich.

I find the dark acid green really exciting for an interior space. Granted it is a difficult colour to ‘relax’ into, but is an invigorating colour where en mass looks new, vital, fresh and clean. Offsetting it against limed whites and flint whites softens the intensity, nether the less a strong monochrome green interior space has a bravery not seen with other colours. It is right on trend, but I am trying to create a common language that can be used in perpetuity.

Take a look at the following selected images and see if you think it channels the Leek and could become a new Welsh trademark…

This multi-function interior is making a big statement with Leek Green in a waxy finish just like the plant. The paler chairs and matching carpet, layer up the green story to great effect.
– Les Ballets C de la B and LOD in Belgium by Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu.

This retro interior designed in the 70’s not only looks bang up to date but has all the elements of the Leek. It’s dark green layers, spiked ceiling panels, (just like the leaf), and the shell chandeliers become the soft tendril root of the leek. I love it so much.
– Verner Panton’s 1969 interiors for the Spiegel Publishing house in Hamburg.

Green wood parquet in various shades of lime down to jungle green and then back to natural has fantastic movement, like broken stems or chopped leaves. It’s unforgettable and fun.
– Unknown.

Cool and almost utilitarian is this kitchen in a glossy, greyed-off lime. It has a modernist aesthetic in design that is a fantastic vehicle for the colour.
– Unknown.

I love the tonal green leather wall tiles individually sewn together. A very organic and soft application looks fantastic next to the off yellow cushions and dark green upholstery.
– Unknown.

An incredibly monochromatic space for Ladurée. Many greens in various substrates from velvet to leather. The curves in soft geometric forms make for an interior statement that I adore. Very charismatic and in a whimsical way.
– India Mahdavi.


These are great examples of the darkest part of the leek palette, that terrific off-jungle green. Such a great colour in bulbous, curved forms.
– Virgin Offices by Penson.
– Mario Bellini.

 

It has to be said that using a leek as design inspiration is a little quirky – but I say ‘why not’? I love these stools that are quirky little characters both whimsical and functional.
Let’s be brave and make new strives forward.
– Meike Harde with Zieharsofika

The perfect green in botryoidal shapes like the leek.
– India Mahdavi.

The ‘Fold’ series of seats by Olivier Grégoire has a morphology very similar to the way Leeks exfoliate with their waxy and translucent skin.
I really like the softer grey green with the more organic and less uniform pigment distribution.

French designer Patrick Nadeau has created an installation for Italian brand Boffi, consisting of hanging domes covered in living plants.
There is always room for transient or temporary features. Since the leek is a living thing it is important to have something alive in this list.

These incredible leather chandeliers are truly unique. A fantastic accessory that is a big statement that has definite leek DNA.
– Ngala Trading Company

Primary School & Nursery in the Claude Bernard ZAC by Atelier d’Architecture Brenac Gonzalez.

Finding, specifically LEEK green in architecture has been difficult. Most architect’s go to colour is straight forward lime. It seems a bit predictable. Architects are famously unimaginative with colour.  The Sta Building, Tokyo, Japan have these incredible facets and rhomboids of lime reminiscent of spiky leaves.


A ravishing example of minimal design, but it is the outer fasciae and its organic rippling that I think connects to the morphology and habit of the leek.
– Vaillo + Irigaray, recycling center.

I am very fond of this building. Bright and colourful and reaching for the sun just like leaves.
– JJW Arckitekter

An easy, effective, upbeat and thoroughly proven way to use leek green in architecture.
– The Cullen by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects.


Perforated shipping containers to create offices for an organic farm in Shanghai, China.
– Tony’s Farm Offices by Playze.

Using green in accent colour is a tried and tested formula. These various shades of lime in ceiling boxes make the working environment youthful and cool.
– Sweco Architects

All the shades of off-lime in cylinders like chopped leeks! Fun, colourful and fresh. But the point I want to raise is that it is so important to use layers of green for a truly interactive interior.
– NeoCon 2014 Showroom Suite.

Statement in green BUT playful!
– Kindergarten Sighartstein in Salzburg, Austria.

Beautiful embroidery in leek green by Una Burke.

Sums it all up! Sculpture by Nick Cave. 🙂

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