DECO Colour: discovering Indigo

Photography by Catherine Legrand 'Indigo - The Colour that Changed the World'

Deco Colour is a new ELLE Decoration feature, and in the latest Winter issue now on shelf, Annemi Conradie took us through a fascinating look into the history of the colour blue. Here online, browse bonus content and unseen pictures from to must-read books.

Indigo is one blue hue that has played an intrinsic part in history and various cultures. Inspired to discover more about this magical colour, DECO unearthed some more information through two intriguing books well worth adding to your library.

Photographs by Catherine Legrand
Photography by Catherine Legrand

Indigo: The Colour that Changed the World

Catherine Legrand travels the world over twenty years in researching the people and communities that still produce indigo, tracking history through the lives of contemporary artisans. The book explores the production of indigo textiles throughout America, China, India, Africa, Central Asia, Japan, Laos, and Vietnam and features more than 500 colour photographs.

Photography by Catherine Legrand
Photography by Catherine Legrand

Colour: Travels through the Paintbox

On a journey that takes her from Afghanistan, to the Australian outback, to ancient caves in China, and the saffron harvest in Spain, Victoria Finlay gives an extraordinary, and compelling account of the history of colour in her richly colourful book.

Excerpts on Indigo from Colour: Travels through the Paintbox:

‘Indigo’ is a word like ‘ultramarine’ – it refers to where the color historically comes from, rather than what the substance actually is. So, just as ultramarine is a translation of the Italian for ‘from beyond the seas’, indigo is derived from the Greek term meaning ‘from India’.

Indigo cultivation probably existed in the Indus Valley more than five thousand years ago, where they called it nil a, meaning dark blue.

We think today of indigo as being midnight blue – the color worn by the navy, or perhaps the color of jeans, which were originally (after the Bohemian immigrant LeviStrauss invented them during the Californian Gold Rush in around 1850) dyed in France with indigo grown in the West Indies. But as we know from jeans, which can range from stone-washed pale to nearly black, indigo can give many different results. 

English dyers used to classify many official shades of indigo, which (from light to dark) included: milk blue, pearl blue, pale plus, flat blue, middling blue, sky blue, queen’s blue, watched blue, garter blue, mazareen blue, deep blue and navy blue. 

Get your copies of these books from Exclusives Books here:
Indigo: The Colour that Changed the World
Colour: Travels through the Paintbox


ELLE Decoration Winter 102 June 2015

The Winter edition of ELLE Decoration South Africa is on shelves at your nearest magazine retailer now. Packed with stylish ways to hibernate this winter, it’s full of all your favourite features, décor tips and tricks plus brand new pages, including DECO Read, DECO Kid and DECO Grow. Download your copy today for the most stylish winter yet and tell us what you think on Twitter @ELLE_Deco. #winteriscoming #Winter102

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