How to style ‘Curiosity’ the Colour of the Year, in any home

Every year, Asian Paints, which dominates the paint and colour industry in India, and its team ColourNext—the only initiative of its kind in the country—develop trend forecasts and a ‘hero’ known as the Colour Of The Year. These colour and trend selections are presented to help consumers create styles update and freshen up their spaces in hues that also reflect the zeitgeist of their time. Year after year, as a part of its forecast process, Asian Paints maps consumer behaviour, consumption patterns, socio-cultural sentiments and lifestyle shifts, working across several institutions and with prominent figures and professionals in the industry holding competitions, interviews and workshops, to finally create the colour forecast.

For 2020, the Colour Of The Year is ‘Curiosity’—a retro blue that’s inspired by azurite, a vivid copper ore. Evoking a burst of energy and optimism, we turned to our Mumbai-based guest stylists of the month—Pooja Bhandary and Keshav Murugesh—to break down the colour for us and offer how-to-style-it tips for this happy blue.
Wall painted in Asian Paints colour of the year 2020 Curiosity and orange stripes, a black bench, antiques and framed artwork

WORKING WITH THE COLOUR
As a seasoned design publicist, Murugesh started his journey with Vivienne Westwood in London, followed by representing design houses such as Villeroy & Boch, Michael Kors and Coach in India, and, most recently, Atelier Ashiesh Shah in Mumbai. With a keen eye for design, Keshav joins hands with Bhandary, a graduate from Rachna Sansad, Mumbai, who is an emerging interior and product designer, to style ‘Curiosity’ for beautifulhomes.com.

The brief was simple—Curiosity was to be used and incorporated as it would in a design-conscious Indian home. Bhandary recalls, “It was the start of the year, and we had been sent digital samples of the colour, which looked interesting. But, once we came in to the beautifulhomes.com office and saw swatches of it in real life, we realised it was quite a colour! It was very striking and unique.”

“And so different!” adds Murugesh, “Blue, on a whole, is such a universal colour, but this was something we’d never seen before—it had a bright pop to it. My first thought was, if paired with white, it would transport me to Santorini. Our main challenge was taking this colour and using it in a serious context…in a study or a living room. Our main focus was, how do we create a beautiful home? We wanted to bring out the versatility of this hue.”

Designers Keshav Murugesh and Pooja Bhandar style the colour Curiosity, Asian Paints colour of the year 2020

Keshav Murugesh and Pooja Bhandary are our guest stylists for the month. Photography by Prachi Damle

While styling this shade, the design-duo used Curiosity in its raw paint form with no methods of texturing or toning it down. “At first, it was a challenging colour! And we wanted it be useful in any room in its most basic form—as a solid painted wall. If we paired it with other colours, we’ve picked them from the swatches in the ColourNext forecast palettes,” says Bhandary, with Murugesh advising, “Blue usually feels like a very cool colour, and its meant to be calming. Curiosity, however, is very striking. We wanted to use it in such a way that people won’t shy away from incorporating it in their own homes. It’s definitely a colour that wakes you up.”

A COLOUR FOR EVERY ROOM
To help us incorporate Curiosity in any room in the house, Murugesh and Bhandary break down the rules:

Wall painted in Asian Paints colour of the year 2020 Curiosity and orange stripes, a black bench, antiques and framed artwork

Photography by Isha Shah

FOR THE LIVING ROOM
Pair it with a lighter shade of blue, such as Bali Blue, painting broad horizontal stripes wrapping across all four walls of the room. These thick bands in contrasting shades will make the room look broader (remember the fashion no-no about wearing horizontal strips?), while the height of each band will add dimensional levels on the wall. Make sure each band is at least 20 inches in height for the desired effect.

FOR THE KITCHEN
Use it in a matte finish with matte tiles. Don’t go for a glossy sheen, as it will reflect a lot of light and become overwhelming. For anyone looking for a kitchen with clean lines and neutral colours, who finds this colour too overpowering, use it on the doors or windows as accent elements.

IN THE BATHROOM
Incorporate Curiosity in a dry area by pairing it with a lighter blue tile for a tone-on-tone, calming aesthetic.

IN THE BEDROOM
Don’t shy away from this colour in the bedroom—paint an entire wall, such as the one behind the bed, in this shade with no texturing or colour blocking. The headboard (especially if its wooden) and linens (try bold colours) will bring out the brightness in this cool retro blue.

FOR THE STUDY
This is a room where you could paint it as a solid colour on all four walls. If that sounds too monotonous, add a pair of thin horizontal lines along the skirting in a bold shade like Jolokia Red. If you’d like a splash of colour in this room, but can’t commit to it on your walls, paint the insides of your bookshelves with it. You could even consider painting the ceiling with this shade if all your walls are covered with bookshelves.

IN THE KIDS’ ROOMS
“It’s definitely the safest colour for a child’s room,” says Bhandary. “It’s such a happy blue… pairs very well with pop colours, especially the shades found in kids’ toys. There’s no single rule for styling this colour in a kid’s room. Go with your instinct and what works best with your child’s personality—that’s the rule of thumb for all children’s rooms,” advises Murugesh.


EIGHT EASY TIPS FOR STYLING CURIOSITY IN YOUR HOME

START IN THE EASIEST CORNER OF A HOME—THE PASSAGEWAY
Corridors and passageways aren’t the focal point in a home. Since it’s an area that connects one room to another, this is a unique place to work with this retro blue. Add art or photographs in wooden frames against this painted wall, or even green plants, to bring out the richness of the hue.

A COLOUR THAT NEEDS CONTROLLED LIGHTING
With its bright and energetic richness, Curiosity can open up an entire room. This works wonderfully in a space which lacks natural lightning. If you’re considering using it outdoors, with ample natural light, pair it with stark white for a Mediterranean al fresco style.

PAIR IT WITH A WALLPAPER FOR A MORE RELAXED AESTHETIC
Curiosity, while initially appearing to be whimsical and energetic, lends a very polished and mature aesthetic to a room. If your personal style is more relaxed, consider painting the lower half of your walls in this vivid blue hue and pairing the upper half with wallpaper in a complimenting colour palette or print. We love Nilaya Enso for this style idea.

LOOKING FOR A QUICK MAKEOVER? JUST PAINT A WALL
Sometimes, it’s hard to commit to new furniture or accessories for the home. But you can decide to paint one wall in a statement colour to completely change the mood in the room. Keep it as a stand-alone wall to show off the colour or compliment it with colourful pieces of art or photographs. It will be a wonderful conversation starter with guests.

WOOD BRINGS OUT THE WARMTH IN CURIOSITY
…especially darker, richer-toned wooden furniture. “We initially thought we’d pair the colour with lighter shades of oak wood furniture to add brightness, but quickly realised that

Nilaya Enso wallpaper

polished wood (on the flooring or with furniture) added a rich seriousness to a room—we loved pairing it in a space such as a study or library in a home,” recalls Bhandary.

A UNIQUE WAY TO CONTEMPORIZE ANTIQUES
“We were very conscious of creating styled looks that would work in real Indian homes. In our country, we have homes that have been inherited and lived in for generations; with furniture pieces and accessories that have been passed down from our ancestors over the year. Every home has to work around accommodating a mix of these keepsakes and antiques. And, as we worked with Curiosity, we started to realise how easily this shade tied a space together. From Burmese jars and Chinese urns to planter chairs teak cupboards—Curiosity brings out the richness in the antiques and heritage objects, making them relevant to the times,” says Keshav.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR MOLDINGS
The moldings on you walls or just below your ceiling are intricate design elements that often get overlooked. A clever way to highlight these would be painting them in a standout colour, such as Curiosity, to create an unusual focal point in a room.

SOLID WALLS PAIR WELL WITH GEOMETRIC FLOORS
At the end of the day, whether bright or with muted undertones, the colour blue will always work well with most shades and patterns. If you have intricately designed tiles or colourful rugs, offset them with a solid bold wall painted with Curiosity to create a warm, inviting space for the whole family.