Life of Pi – Translating Inspiration to Design

image via

New ways to see to color always inspire and fill me with gratitude for the fact of living.

Sometimes it’s important to take a few days off and hit the ground running with a fresh lens…and a fresh lens is exactly what I got when I dropped into my seat and donned my 3-D glasses to see Life of Pi following to reward myself for the exhaustive preparations for Thanksgiving dinner for sixteen.

If you have not yet seen it, you should make it a point to rest those aching feet after Black Friday madness and renew the sense of wonder that the unapologetic blast of commercialism of the introduction to the holiday season seems so intent on snuffing out.

I am no movie critic, but The Life of Pi, above its well-earned visual comparison to the feature block-buster Avatar, is an amazing portrait of the human brain’s capacity to embrace and re-culture trauma in the elegant dance of human survival. It is also a poignant and unconditional testament to the ability of faith to transcend individual religious interpretations.

Bioluminescence, reflection, and variations in natural light are used to full potential to demonstrate the full potential for the dance between blue and green analogous color palettes.

Life of Pi movie still from the official trailer of Life of Pi, and color samples I have taken from the image

All this inspiration makes for a great primmer for the mental progression of translating imagery that speaks to you into sophisticated translations into room design….

Breaching whale lit in emerald green image via

Color Trends frequently take their inspiration from feature films, as do so many areas of design.

Turquoise and Purple influencing 2013 – image via Pantone Color Trends webinar

Translating inspiration in a visual language in the form of design is a great way to allow your sources of inspiration to set the stage for interior design that defines your home with the essence of what you love or even meaningful holidays gifts.

To translate a visual inspiration, treat your thought process as though you are an abstract painter – think of it in stages….

Glow In The Dark Glass Marble Galaxy Necklace from Etsy

Start with realism and progress – this fluorescent marble necklace (above) from Etsy is a blatant interpretation of the image above from Life of Pi’s “carnivorous island”.

Now take the shapes and color and apply it to your design. It does not (nor should it) have to be specific.

The computer lacks the human eye’s finesse, but has its own revealing translation of a reflective sea palette.

Chip-it reveals more than blue

In kindergarten we are taught absolutes that must be shed in the interest of great design…. The sky is blue, trees are green, tree trunks are brown and so forth.

Absolutes have never been credited with great art, design or much in the way of innovation. Chip-it (Sherwin Williams Paint’s online color too) sees a palette in the image above that leaves out the reflected teal sky that occupies nearly a third of the image above.

Let’s abstract this image even further by diving into the depths of tacit implications. We do this by surrendering the specific implications of shape for a tacit cultural influence and by putting that teal back into the sea inspiration in the form of an area rug accent.

Another way to abstract from an implicit visual image is to ignore the color palette completely and infer a more sophisticated subtlety to your design by considering just the topic of your image.

image of moon-soaked blues via ngpopgun.wordpress blog

This approach runs the risk of netting a “themey” design by default, so everything in moderation….but here the tiger is both a character and a symbolic foundational element in Life of Pi. The Tiger and its Asian influence can stand alone as inspiration for a great design accent – albeit not so literal.

Whatever your inspiration, just o to the heart of the way it makes you feel and find an unexpected way to express your interpretation – design is just a tool to discover yourself.

Magic Cave in a Bottle from Etsy

Don’t for get the fun!