Benjamin Moore Hue Awards

May 15, 2012

At its annual celebration of color, Benjamin Moore’s HUEYs were presented for exceptional use of color in architecture and interior design.

Color—and a distinguished group of design professionals who are true believers in its power and passionate about its use—were celebrated when Benjamin Moore presented the HUE Awards, April 3, 2012 at Hearst Tower in New York City.

The honorees emerging from this year’s competition included D’Aquino Monaco Inc., New York, for Residential Interiors; Architecture Is Fun, Chicago, for Contract Interiors; and, Publicolor, for Social Responsibility. They competed in a field of nearly 100 entries and each received the hand-blown, paint drop-shaped crystal HUE sculpture plus a $5,000 cash prize that recognizes exceptional use of color in architecture and interior design.

Additionally, New York interior designer Muriel Brandolini was named by the judges to receive the HUE Lifetime Achievement Award, and 89-year-old itinerant muralist Virginia McLaughlin, of Frederick, Md., was presented a Special Achievement Award at the 2012 ceremony.

“This is now the fifth year Benjamin Moore has held the HUE competition,” said Eileen McComb, director of corporate communications, Benjamin Moore. “And each year the honorees’ work awes us with not simply a richness of color but also with the scope of breathtaking talent and imagination. This year’s judges had no easy task in making their decisions, but it’s another group of amazing architects and designers who will receive the HUEY. We are excited to salute their individual achievements and add them to the esteemed roster of what now numbers 29 honorees.”

Lifetime Achievement Honoree – Muriel Brandolini

In the recently published book chronicling her work—The World of Muriel Brandolini (Rizzoli, 2011)—the designer acknowledges that “the freedom to live a colorful life” has enabled her to flex her creative muscle.

Brandolini was born in Montpellier, France, to a French-Venezuelan mother and a Vietnamese father. She was the youngest of four sisters, and the family first lived in Vietnam for 12 years and then moved to Martinique in 1972. When she was 15, she was sent to live with relatives in Paris where her interest and tastes for fashion, architecture and design were well nourished. And, it was an eventual move to New York City in her early twenties with no job but an instinctive entrepreneurial spirit and fearless drive that led to her emergence as an in-demand interiors artiste. Her own living spaces became laboratories for experimentation in use of color and texture, pattern and scale, as she constantly was redecorating—seized by an endless flow of creative ideas.  

The HUE judges were struck by Brandolini’s innate sense of color, and in reviewing her work remarked that she’s skillful at applying color in subtle measures or dialing it up to a more vibrant and audacious palette. They also noted how effectively she finesses the layering of colors to create spaces that seem less planned and more organic or evolved. Overall, the judges found her interiors “emotionally satisfying,” which won her high praise and has become an indelible signature of her work.

Special Achievement Honoree – Virginia McLaughlin

It’s not enough that this 89-year-old still climbs ladders and scaffolding to execute the extraordinary painted wall and ceiling murals for which she has earned acclaim. Virginia McLaughlin also still manages to do aerobics three times a week, plus gets plenty of exercise keeping up with her five-year-old grandchild. McLaughlin describes herself as “an itinerant painter,” traveling job to job, whether it’s for a private home, an institution or commercial property. McLaughlin was awarded with a HUE Special Achievement award for the nearly 120 murals she has painstakingly hand-painted since 1977.

McLaughlin, who lives in Frederick, Md., often is commissioned to paint murals representative of the local history and landscape, and her work can be found in homes and even some restaurants and inns throughout Maryland, Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. Her work is inspired by the early 19th century American landscape painter Rufus Porter and also, from that era, a series of hand-blocked wallpaper from manufacturer Jean Zuber called “Scenic America.”

Benjamin Moore’s Regal eggshell paint is her preferred medium. “It’s easy to work with, is forgiving and stands the test of time,” she said. McLaughlin also recently told the editor of her hometown magazine, Elegant Living, that she favors the brand’s White Linen as a base for colors she mixes in, and begins the sky with Williamsburg Blue, followed by Labrador Blue for mid-tones and then Providence Blue for a darker shade. What’s especially astonishing about McLaughlin’s work is that she rarely sketches scenes before starting and she often incorporates a client’s home and family members in the final artwork.

A retrospective book of McLaughlin’s work is due out this fall to coincide with her 90th birthday.

The Competition Honorees

Interior designer Carl D’Aquino and architect Francine Monaco formed their namesake partnership in 1997, and since then they have built an impressive portfolio of work for a range of residential and commercial projects both nationally and internationally. A noteworthy feat accomplished within 10 years of its founding, Interior Design magazine named D’Aquino Monaco to its prestigious Hall of Fame. Now the partnership added a HUE for Residential Interiors to its trophy shelf.

The pair’s mastery of color selection and usage is apparent in nearly every space they design. In some, like an Upper East Side townhouse restoration they recently orchestrated, the palette registers with uninhibited boldness. In this space, they applied unexpected color and pattern contrasts that are visual treats from all corners. Yet, their color competency is equally evident in a Riverside Drive flat where the client requested an all-white décor that could have been cliché. But, D’Aquino Monaco delivered with a combination of nuanced tones on a white and gray scale that is remarkably complex and compelling.

Peter Exley, FAIA, and Sharon Exley, MAAE, head Chicago-based Architecture Is Fun, which earned the HUE for Contract Interiors. The husband and wife duo dedicate their practice to architecture for play and learning for children of all ages, with projects that include museums, public spaces, libraries, parks, playgrounds and healthcare facilities. Dynamic colors infuse their projects, engaging youngsters and their families. 
For example, the couple relied on an eye-popping palette of hot red, deep blue, crayon purple and pulsating green to transform an abandoned car dealership into the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum in Saginaw. It is a vibrant space that has become a catalyst for community revitalization. The Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, utilizes a palette that helps children connect with nature. Two dominant shades of green are used to create a perennial springtime woodland environment that invigorates this public landmark.

Also youth-focused, Publicolor, founded in 1996 by Ruth Lande Shuman, was the recipient of the HUE Social Responsibility Award. The non-profit organization, which is one of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s favorite causes, helps inspire disaffected and at-risk teenage students by involving them in adding color to all the public spaces in their schools. Publicolor teaches the process of commercial painting to these youngsters who work together to improve their learning environment—empowering them to makeover their surroundings and experience a sense of success and accomplishment as they gain a marketable skill.

School painting projects are just the tip of the Publicolor iceberg. The organization also provides ongoing programming to help students plan and prepare for college and career. In doing so, it addresses two root causes of poverty—under-education and lack of job preparedness.

In an interview with catalystsdr.com last year, Shuman said, “I feel very strongly that by introducing design and color you can change attitudes and behavior as well as create visual order in environments where chaos reigns supreme.”

Emerging Designers

At the 2012 HUE Awards Benjamin Moore shone the spotlight not only on veteran architects and interior designers but also on a new crop of emerging professionals. The company, with the help of House Beautiful magazine, identified three talented up-and-comers whose work has demonstrated they may be the next generation of HUE title-holders.

The three “Emerging Designers” each received a $1,500 cash prize and included Timothy Brown, Jon Call and Jill Goldberg. Both Brown and Call have practices in New York City; Goldberg is based in Boston.

Timothy Brown has accrued a decade of experience working on commercial and residential projects throughout the U.S. and overseas. He now heads his namesake New York City interior design studio, which is all of three years old. Brown favors a “clean, modern, edited” style, yet there’s palpable warmth to his spaces that’s undoubtedly instilled by his Southern (Tennessee) roots.

Jon Call’s business, launched in 2010, is Mr. Call Designs. Call began his New York City career with Diamond Baratta (a past Benjamin Moore HUE Lifetime Achievement honoree), and his mission is to reinterpret the Modern American interior. Just last year, he was the consulting creative director for HGTV’s “High Low Project.”  

Classic design foundations, with a mix of traditional, modern and vintage, define the style Jill Goldberg brings to her design projects. She founded Hudson Interior Design, her own firm in 2010 following the successful launch four years earlier of HUDSON, a home furnishings and gift boutique in Boston’s South End.

“The HUE Awards have become a well-established platform for Benjamin Moore to honor the North American design community, and especially to recognize those who are color evangelists and whose body of work reflects it,” said John Turner, Benjamin Moore’s director of architect and designer segments. “Now it’s time to keep an eye on the future stars whose work shows the potential and promise of being HUE-worthy in the coming years. So, we are proud to add to this celebration and acknowledge these three impressive breakthroughs.”

About the HUE 2012 Judges

As it has in the past, Benjamin Moore enlisted a panel of renowned and respected leaders in the fields of design, fashion and industry to serve as HUE judges. This year’s jury included:  Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for The New Yorker; Tim Murray, former creative director, TARGET Creative Vision Group;  Hans Neubert, executive creative director, frog; Linda O’Keeffe, design author and former creative director Metropolitan Home magazine; and, Gary Panter, artist, graphic designer and set designer for the original “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

A Q&A with Sonu Mathew, ASID, IIDA and Benjamin Moore’s senior interior designer.
Coatings World: What is the latest news from Benjamin Moore on the color development front?
Sonu Mathew: We have an entirely new collection of colors called Color Stories. The collection is comprised of 240 full spectrum colors. Inspired by nature, the senses, moments, found objects, travel and pure imagination, each color tells its enticing tale.
We’ve created a collection of full spectrum colors that use no black or gray pigments. This means the colors have an added sense of mystery, depth and beauty. They interact and reflect one another, creating a colorful conversation on walls. And that means the color is unique in the context of its environment, creating a haven for the individual at home. We offer Color Stories exclusively in Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint, defining the important balance of color and product working together to create a coatings system.
Coatings World: What are the current color trendsetters? How do you see these trends evolving in the future and affecting the color design/selection process?
Mathew: Wythe Blue HC-143 represents the family of blues that will trend in 2012. Blue is calming, trustworthy, a color rooted in history, but with a strong modern edge. We find a cooling of the palette as we move into 2012 evoking a sense of soothing calm. Blues are also representative of the cooler colors which visually recede, rendering a more spacious feeling in a room. As we are scaling down our living spaces, color can make even more impact.
As a backdrop to other hues, blue works across the board with the various wood tones, grays and whites we see intermingled in our environments. Blue represents a classic color family that has become a favorite over the years and will continue to hold its position in the world of style.
Overall, combinations of colors have an interesting nuance to them, offering saturated hues underscoring feminine brights in a serious way.
Coatings World: Who/what determines color trends (consumer demand, designer influence, etc.)?
Mathew: Benjamin Moore’s North American design team meets annually to discuss color forecast and trend research conducted throughout the year. Our perspectives are individually shaped by social, political, economic shifts and how they may translate to the world of design. This means we pay close attention to influential designers, emerging designers and consumer behavior, as well. From there, we further analyze design concepts and assign colors that will help to tell these global stories with a cultural slant to North American color. Our research comes from London, Paris, New York, Milan and local home states and provinces across North America. Trends are simply the evolution of style and can be born anywhere. The skill is in identifying them and finding colorful and meaningful ways in which to embrace them in the world of design. 
Coatings World: How important of a role does color play in the overall design scheme?
Mathew: Color is the soul of design. Where design defines the environment in terms of function, color enhances its character. Not only is the family of colors important, but it’s equally relevant to consider the intensity and tone of color as well as its relationship to other colors in the scheme. Inherent colors in materials—brick, stone, wood finishes, etc.—can be celebrated and complimented by creating an edited palette throughout an environment.

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