Paris, London true colo(u)rs

Grateful Graduate Project:  Reasons 148 – 167

Our experience of urban life is informed to a great extent by our senses –  the  images fed through sight, smells, tastes, sounds… and perhaps even  touch. In exploring the  signature colours of Paris and London,   it is possible to   come up with some narration of life in either place.

I am grateful for the aggressive, go-getter,  colour scheme of London.  London’s colour palette to me says -‘go for it’. The cultural assumptions that I carry about the colour ‘red’ and other London colours are mostly tied to a disposition of  determination and energetic progressive-ness (whatever that means.

Paris, on the other hand, has a completely different color palette that gives a sense of calm, rootedness,. The colours of the city speak of continuity, elegance, and ‘classic’ .. ness (? – what would the word be?)

In short, colour and sight are an integral part of the sensory experience of cities: and within the context of Paris and London, the colours activate two distinct feelings and dispositions. For the student, this is very important,  seeing as a lot of university work centres on being stimulated (or otherwise) by ones environment:

Traces of London’s masculine/competitive: colour scheme that are worth appreciating: 

1.The code red of buses, telephone booths – a subliminal and  constant city colour background

2. Black for London cabs – gives a distinct sense of place, as yellow cabs do in New York

3. A Brownish classic  colour of Westminster parliament buildings to remind one of heritage int he midst of modernity

4. Steely blue, silver, glass – the corporate, sleek, ambitious colour code of the  the city

5. Black and a dark shade of military green for lampposts along the Thames: there is something austere and sombre about this choice of colour, a statement in its own right. Brighter coloured lamposts would communicate a different ambience, disposition

6. Gold detail on clocks, and other pieces of city furnishing – a nod to London’s opulence, past and present

7. Black, white, red ensemble  on Street signage – npt merely a means of placing one within the city, but the colours themselves reinforce a sense of place, of being in London.  Colour acts here as a way for orientation in so many ways!

8. Red, white and blue of underground signs – fewer colour ensembles say you’re in London, get with the the programme!

9. White and silver of London Eye –  communicate the aspiration of the city toward being futuristic. Nothing  says ‘futuristic’, detrmination to press into the future than plain glass, a dash of clinical whiteness and silvery steel

10. Black and red of royal guard –  Same colours  as elsewhere in the city, but when placed onto certain bodies, they communicate something about tradition, of the unique institutions of London,

 Paris’ elegant,  docile, subdued yet resilient, timeless palette

1. Npt sure if this means anyhting but there is something of a ‘Gothic palette’ in the sense of the sandy brick and stone mason material, the accumulation of dark grime to discolour past work – that colouring of cathedrals and  churches that makes for a thematic colour for Paris. Nothing says magical  faster than this colour – the sense of magic is an important one when trying to write up impossible amounts of research work

2. The sublime ubiquitous blue of street signs –  gives a certain sense of place and orientation. The design  and colouring of signs is quintessentially Parisian
3. Green, grey, blue. white of Metro and buses – an interestingly much more calming scheme of colours to the London red – at least in certain cultural  interpretations of colour. Perhaps it also  communicates important information, this subdued colour scheme – which is, keep yourself in check, blend in and camouflage, that’s the  way to study and live in Paris
4. Roof top blue on haussmanian buildings –  a nod to the elegant,  quiet colouring of the city
5. ‘Monumental grey’ – for lack of a name. The grey of historical monuments and memorials – statues, gates, works of architecture  – a colour  scheme that speaks to ‘historical space’ in a way that say pink or bright lime green could not really say at this point in time…

6. Discreet and not so discreet  gold détail – Opera garnir. Pont d’Alexandre , Sainte Chapelle – reminders to not forget to add a bit of flourish and add a  touch of  extravagance; To add detail to one’s work – Parisian urban decor is all about flourishes and detail, detail, detail..

7. Those Art nouveau greens, browns etc.. of metro stops and other spots around the city:   contribute to the grander, elegant calming colour theme of the city
8. Public bench greens and browns –  classic and elegant, not too showy or conspicuous, more of the quiet elegance of the city’s context..;
9. Balcony  black – Speaks to  uniformity, coherence of colour and design across the city, a deliberate attempt to maintain a standard of appearance – one can imagine the positive (and negative) psychological effects of being in a city-scape that is coloured to reflect coherence
10. Lamp post black – nothing quite says you’re in Paris quit like one of its lamp posts, their design, colour schemes – the visual dimension of the city becomes an important, yet subliminal way of reinforcing a sense of place.

I am grateful for how the colours of these two cities, the aesthetics of them evoke the feelings and emotional mix of dispositions needed to fuel my academic work: the competitive and determined colours of London, and the collected, rational and coherent colouring of space in Paris.

This is part of a project to collect 365  reasons  to be grateful for the experience of studying in Paris and London

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