The Enduring Blue

14th January 2019

From rich indigo and cobalt to soft Eau de Nil and Duck Egg; blue is a colour that remains steadfast and true.

If you’re looking to decorate, blue is one of the colours that has perennial appeal. We see this colour appear in decor schemes year-on-year in one of its many forms. Transcending the seasons and differing personal styles it can create a dramatic space for entertaining, a fresh space to clear the mind and can even curb your appetite… some believe!

But why has this basic of all colours remained so popular?

Blue furnishing accessories

Why so Blue?

According to My Modern Met, early Egyptians were the first to bring blue into decorative arts over 6000 years ago. Awarded the name Egyptian blue it was created by grinding minerals and gemstones such as Azureite or Malachine with limestone and then heating; this was the first synthetically produced dye. It was used to glaze pots and ceramics and even to decorate the tombs of the pharaohs!

Throughout history blues have continued to be developed in this way, some are stumbled upon and some are created by necessity. Manufacturing dyes from semi-precious gemstones is a costly business – it’s rumoured that Michaleangelo stopped painting The Entombment as he ran out of Ultramarine blue, a pigment derived from Lapis Lazuli, and couldn’t afford to buy anymore.  Since this point more economical ways of synthetically producing dyes, to give the same effect, have been developed… along with some new discoveries.

The latest blue was discovered just over a decade ago YInMn Blue is the creation of chemist Dr Mas Subramanian, we say creation but it was more like a happy accident as it was created whilst he was exploring new materials for electronics.  Named YInMn blue, after its chemical makeup of yttrium, indium, and manganese, it’s not a name that slips off the tongue easily, but as complicated as the name maybe it has still been immortalised as a Crayola crayon!

Our collection launch for 2018/19 – Coast, saw us explore the myriad of blues surrounding our shores. From the deep cobalt of the sky as it meets the horizon, to the greyed almost-green blue of Marram grass on our dunes. The variation in colour across the fabrics is vast, taking in many shades, from vivid to muted and will allow you to adopt this classic, enduring colour whatever your taste.  Our use of soft melange yarns means these fabrics remain liveable, and the colour not overbearing.


A striking blue, touted as an alternative to the expensive Ultramarine dates back to the 8th and 9th century and was used to colour ceramics and jewellery.  This rich almost pinky shade has the ability to bring life to a room, as Van Gogh is thought to have said, “‘Cobalt [blue] is a divine colour and there is nothing so beautiful for putting atmosphere around things“. Whether used to accent a room or used boldly as a base it can create a thought-provoking and conversation starting interior. Great for focus, consider this colour for reading rooms and home offices or anywhere you want to do your best work!

cobalt blue bedroom

Mist Blue

This silvered, weathered blue is the easiest of the colours in the Coast pallete to adopt.  A more sophisticated take on a Duck Egg yet with more punch than an Eau de Nil. It works equally well with the warmer tones in Oatmeal as it does with the cooler tones of Chalk White and Cobalt.  Easy to live with in great swathes of fabric, curtains from the beautifully structured Salcombe Stripe would look great against a backdrop of Chalky White such as All White by Farrow and Ball, allowing the colour to stand true and not fade into the background. However it does this wonderfully with the remainder of the colours from the Coast collection allowing you to build up layers of fabrics without overdoing it with the Cobalt!

Salcombe mist fabric

Melange Yarns

Woven blue fabrics created with a melange yarn have a much softer look than say a blue print on a flat base fabric. The yarn itself has variety in terms of the tone and when woven gives a very subtle colour change across the fabric.

A great example of this can be seen in the Hemsby Check and Truro Textured Weave fabrics, fantastic for matching with other blues as it takes on the appearance of the blue next to it.  Perfect to match with more vivid hues and those on the grey spectrum. The colour changing chameleon of the fabric world!

Hemsby check fabric

A similar effect can be seen in these fantastic V&A tiles from the British Ceramic Tile, Brompton Collection.  Adapted from an earthenware tile design by the master of Gothic Revival, A.W.N. Pugin this uses soft watercolour like tones of indigo which could almost pass as grey.

Over the decades blue has been a constant old friend of the interiors world and by sticking to classic pattern and a blue that you feel a connection to, you can be assured of a scheme that will last you for many seasons.

At Ian Mankin we develop our collections with longevity in mind, not just in the quality of the products that we weave but also with a consideration of trend and classical design.  We want to be sure our customers use our fabrics to create a home that’s beautiful, practical and value for money.

To find out more about Ian Mankin visit a stockist near you or explore our full range of Coast Fabrics online.

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