“All the action of the paint lives in the report of colors between
them, in the report of the shapes between, and in the report between
colors and shapes”
The use of colors and geometric shapes aims to be understood by
everybody, but also to be applicable in every domain. Shapes and
colors offer a broad range of combinations and possibilities, but
this obvious simplicity is also a limitation. It is accessible to
all but, just like the writing process, but it can be more or less
successful. The designers would completely master the use of forms
Since the 17th Century, the success of the first Indiennes in
Occident is bound to the richness of its colors. It enlightened the
Europeans’ houses and clothes and, very quickly, several
manufacturers took inspiration from its patterns. The Indiennes
represent the basis of the decorative textile’s vocabulary.
The use of natural colors (essentially madder and indigo
colors) confined the creativity but the drawer’s imagination had no
limit when it came to providing new drawings, which were necessary
to meet with commercial success. Indeed, fabrics have to be
attractive to reach a wider customer base, and the offer has to be
continuously renewed. As a result, the designers would completely
master the use of forms and colors.
The harmony of colors is a recurring subject in the world of
textile. During the Antiquity already, the problem of colors’
coordination and the problem of the luminosity’s effect on weavings
was raised. Originally, the colorist had only a few hues on-hand.
Since the discovery of the first synthetic dyes in the 1850s, only
natural colors from purple, madder, pastel, indigo, kermes,
cochineal, saffron and sorrel were used for the fabric dyeing and
printing process. Manufacturers had always been concerned by the
color chemistry. In France for instance, a particular chemistry
based on scientific principles for dyes started to develop.
In Alsace, Jean-Michel Haussmann (1742-1829), a manufacturer of
Logelbach next to Colmar, became a pioneer as he improved the
mordants’ application on cotton and linen fabrics. In the 1790s,
some mineral dyes appeared such as iron oxide (which gives a red
color), antimony (orange), Prussian blue and the bister obtained by
the manganese (brown).