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Named after the madder plant (manjishtha or Rubia Tinctorum) that the pigment is distilled from, our colour of the year has origins as deep as the shade of red that tints it. Since 1500 BC, madder has been cultivated as a dyestuff in Central Asia, South Asia and Egypt. Apparently, madder root dyed-fabric was discovered in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun as well as on an Egyptian tomb painting from the Greco-Roman period. Other historical instances that record the use of the dye include: the Baths of Titus and ruins of Pompeii in Italy, the writings of Dioscorides and Hippocrates, and in the artworks of JMW Turner. According to early seekers, there are 20 steps in the extraction method, from root to red. Greek dyers were brought to France to recreate this revolutionary hue; spies were sent to the Near East to unearth its secrets. 

It has journeyed the world, from Central Asia to India and across the Levant to the West. Three centuries later, it makes an appearance in your home interiors... Here’s a colour for the spirited individual who is not afraid to take centre stage. With the resurgence of self, – the ‘I’ – there is an awareness of the power we possess to inspire the world around us. Like a recoiled spring that holds within itself the energy to push forward yet remains unassuming to the outside world; resting in the confidence of this potential. 
Madder red is a colour that’s symbolic of the fire within – not the raging, restless kind, but one that fuels new beginnings. Imbibe a bit of this bold passion with a decorative detailing or two. Take, for instance, Nilaya’s Moods Of Monsoon collection which features the shade in old-school tie-and-dye and water colouring techniques. The colour also popped up at this year’s Salone del Mobile: Marni Ballhaus’ new furniture line woven with rainbow combinations of PVC cords, crafted by a group of women in Colombia. Then there was Credenza, a capsule collection of technicoluor furniture, inspired by artist Gerhard Richter’s stained-glass windows for the Cologne Cathedral. Presented by Brera’s Spazio Pontaccio gallery, the project is a collaboration between architect Patricia Urquiola and graphic designer Federico Pepe of the gallery and publisher Le Dictateur. 

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