Skin and flesh come together to create a colour scheme that reflects contemporary culture’s attitude towards sex, and a widespread acceptance of the perfectly imperfect. Naked, nude, bruised and blushed tones make up a new take on the neutral palette.
Softcore pornography is fast moving into the mainstream, enabling diverse creative voices to be part of the development of a new sexual imagery. Female-directed, low-budget, alternative and artistic pornographic imagery is bringing reality and humanity into an existing landscape of idealised and objectified sex.
When you pair this shift with the consumer’s increasing savvy about the deceptions of digital depictions, we are presented with new explorations of materials, colours and visual imagery – explorations that celebrate the imperfection and humanness of our bodies in real life. We are seeing creatives use lumpy, flesh-like materials, folds and curves in fleshy tones of peach, pink and off-white.
Never ones to shy away from sex or gore, extrovert creative duo Bompas and Parr recently created Romancing The Armpit – a “small scale revolt against the highly deodorised world of online dating”. The event was pitched as the world’s first armpit-sniffing matchmaking night, taking human interaction back to basic sensuality, in a backlash against our overly sanitised world.
Debunking the stigma of body image in fashion and advertising, a lingerie campaign by & Other Stories saw the brand forgo airbrushing and traditional industry standards of perfection by using ‘real’ models, with real imperfections, to create lingerie campaign imagery complete with hair, bruises and scars.
This rejection of polish and embracing of a realistic visual language has also been adopted in the product space, with designers such as Chen Chen and Kai Williams emulating the colour and suppleness of flesh in ceramic and stoneware. Similarly, Oliver van Herpt utilises digital fabrication technology to replicate voluptuous forms akin to the human body in his 3D-printed ceramic collection.
Part of the Concepts of Beauty exhibition, Victoria Ledig’s curiously fleshy foam furniture pieces appear in plush skin tone. On closer inspection, the surfaces of the simple forms crack and wrinkle in a similar way to plump epidermis as the form is coerced and manipulated. The desire for real and unadulterated, honest and unfiltered IRL (in real life) products and design sees a new neutral palette come to the fore; one that draws on the nature of humanness with all its flaws and imperfections. Flesh, peach, bone, pink and tan make up the neutral, yet not exactly clean, base palette.
See how terracottas and browns will shape 2017 on the next page