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Swellboy on… the beige conspiracy

Leading the charge in the battle against beige

Swellboy on… the beige conspiracy

October 16 2010
Nick Foulkes

The beige conspiracy feels like something against which I have been battling all my life. Beige (or its sibling, greige) is the colour of affluent international anonymity: it could be a hotel in the south of France or an apartment Hong Kong, but without more accurate GPS locations it is difficult to tell the difference. It is interesting, if ultimately pointless, to speculate whether beige is a trend that will pass or whether it is a real change in the way we live.

I live in a riot of colour and alluvial deposits of stuff, all over the place: Lamborghini green covers the walls in my office (where you can see them through the books and pictures and the forest of trinkets and bibelots that cover any vaguely flat surface). I wonder whether I am the only person left who might be in the market for a pot of paint that is not located on a chromatic scale somewhere between mouse’s back and oatmeal.

I am of course hyperbolising wildly, but whenever anything old and beautiful is closed for redecoration, it emerges from its pupa of scaffolding, ladders, and dustsheets neutered – everything from soft furnishings, paint finishes, splashback tiles, basins, baths, floors executed in various shades of sandstone and cereal.

Beige speaks to me a of a world that is just as affected and ridiculous as that of the aspirational, Demis Roussos-loving Beverly of Mike Leigh’s superb 1970s comedy of manners, Abigail’s Party. In fact I would love for Mike Leigh to get to grips with the world of beige. I imagine he would enjoy lampooning its spa bathrooms; its houses integrally wired for complicated audio systems; and its brochures that trumpet apartment buildings (whatever happened to mere blocks of flats?) finished to the very “highest quality” – I have yet to see a property developer whose stated aim is to provide dwellings finished only to mediocre standards.

In the meantime I am off to invest in a few rolls of really good flocked wallpaper.

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