Jan 22, 2021

COLOR OF THE MONTH | Traveling far with Japanese Blue, aka Indigo – full

As we wave hello to 2021 – we welcome our new Colour of the Month to start the year. Get ready to travel with imagination with the intriguing Indigo Blue – also known as Japanese Blue. 






Indigo is a rich, dark purplish-blue colour between blue and violet on the visible spectrum.

The colour of intuition, perception and the higher mind. See it in the deep blue of the night sky and “superfood” blueberries, although rarely does the colour occur in nature; its symbolism is shrouded in intrigue.

Psychologists tell us that Indigo affects us by putting us in a concentration mindset.  It promotes deep concentration during times of introspection and meditation, helping you to achieve deeper levels of consciousness. 


Hand dyed Indigo Ombre Linen Shibori  Source  

Source – Stepped cloth saturation of Indigo dye pigment.


Indigo dye, with its distinctive blue colour, was historically a natural dye extracted from the leaves of the Indigofera plant. Indigo’s name gives its origin away; it simply means “the Indian” or “from India.”

A tint as Old as Time Indigo has a colourful past. Its  use goes back centuries, with stories from cultures spread over the world. Captivating us for many generations: Indigo dye is an attractive colour and is one of the oldest dyes in the world. As early as 5000 years ago, our ancestors in India, East Asia, Egypt and most probably the Maya, used indigo to dye their clothes. They must have really adored this deep blue shade to go through the very demanding process necessary to achieve it.

Indigo was the foundation of the centuries-old textile traditions throughout West Africa: from the Tuareg nomads of Sahara to Cameroon, clothes dyed with indigo signified wealth.

|| Discover more: The beautiful indigo textiles from West Africa




From Indigo Dye to Denim

It is thought that the phrase “blue collar” workers might have originated as it was the common colour used to dye denim. Denim a hard-wearing cotton twill fabric, typically blue and used for jeans and other clothing. The word “denim” comes from a twill fabric called “Serge de Nîmes”, first woven in Nîmes, France. 



Aizome traditional Japanese dying source  

Indigo aka Japanese blue

Blue but not just any blue ‘Indigo’ is a colour woven deep into Japan’s history.

In Japan, the samurai used to dye their clothes in natural indigo dye to wear for battle under armour and it was thought to have antibacterial properties and protect wounds. Indigo in Japan became especially important during the Edo period, after a law prevented the lower classes from wearing silk was passed. This led to the increased cultivation of cotton and consequently indigo – one of the few substances that could dye it.

Since the Edo Period, Indigo has been one of the most commonly-used dyes in Japan. Japanese Aizome (indigo dyeing) is characterized by a deep blue colour that is also called “Japan blue” because of its beautiful hue. Everything from fabric and yarn to kimonos and futon covers have been dyed this rich colour. Indigo has been used in tandem with various traditional resist-dye techniques, including shibori, Ikat and stitching. 



Via / Via 

There are 5 major types of Japan Blue – light to dark tone (left to right) AiJiro, Airro, Seiran, Konjyo & Tetsukon.




Indigo, synonymous with the classic image of the denim jean and the dye that colours that iconic shade of blue. In the past two decades, Japanese denim has become a hot commodity, praised all over the world for its lustrous colours and the meticulousness of its construction. In Kijoma, denim adorns everything from vending machines to sidewalks. Convenience stores serve “denim” (blueberry flavoured) ice cream and you can even eat a bowl of “denim” ramen. 


Source / via 


Synthetic indigo dominates the fashion world today, but there has been a recent resurgence in the appreciation for the natural version and keeping that art of aizome alive along with other traditional handmade textile techniques.  



Source – A collective of young people; the next generation of Indigo makers creating Japan’s most iconic and vibrant hue Indigo and preserving a lost art.

BUAISOU’s vision involves “preserving the tradition of Japanese indigo,” and bringing “new vitality to ‘Japan Blue’ through our artistic and functional creations.”



Japanese Art Print – Night at Honmonji Temple by Kawase Hasui


via, Natural organic indigo cake via 


(source) 2021 Denim Trends Take Basic Jeans To A Whole New Level 


Today the hue is an integral part of everyone’s wardrobe.

 is a 90s trend that’s always in style for its versatility and timeless appeal. It’s easy to forget that Indigo used to be a rare “exotic” commodity, so exclusive that only royalty and aristocracy could afford. Imported with great difficulty from far-off colonies, which earned indigo a status similar to that of tea, coffee, silk and as valuable as gold. Referred to as “Blue Gold” as it was an ideal trading commodity; high value, compact and long lasting. 











Take inspiration from Japandi style – a delicate fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian (or Nordic) design elements. A hybrid of both styles – Japandi brings together the best of both worlds. Traditional and timeless Japanese design in splendid interplay with rustic and modern scandi design.  Japandi builds on the Japanese expression “wabi-sabi” which is about finding beauty in the incomplete and imperfect.

Japandi is more than just a style; it is a philosophy of life. Japandi is characterised by the use of muted, dark colours interacting with bright, natural tones, which together create a warm and cosy ambience. A rapidly growing interior design trend which has only just emerged and becoming more popular. Japandi colour schemes need not be bland or boring, simply by introducing a contrasting colour or add richness with a darker accent colour such as charcoal or indigo. Deeper tones can add interest to minimalistic décor and are often seen in Japanese interiors.


Source Japandi Palettes


As a paint colour,

indigo adds a surprising, elegant strength. Indigo amazes us. It instils a sense of wonder, even in adults. The fact that our access to blue this deep and rich in the natural world is limited gives it a magical quality. Karen Haller 




Go to the darker depths of the colour palette for home decorating. Whilst dark blues can be dramatic, strong blues can aid focused thought. Sophisticated and timeless, dark hues offer a moody ambience that enhances creativity, promotes relaxation and pushes the boundaries of contemporary design.


Hex colour codes via / via


Lets now dip into Indigo paints from the colour forecast palettes for 2021.

Dulux au introduces three nurturing palettes which includes from the “Retreat” palette. Within the palette of storming blues and greys there is  Winter Sea which connects a Mangrove green and earthy burgundy Burnished Bark.


Dulux au Retreat palette 

The Encounter” palette by Sherwin-Williams. Encounterrooted in culture and artisan craft — create an authentic sense of place. The rich (including Naval) but muted hues in this palette convey that heritage quality and the value of simple, meaningful experiences. 

Considering that colour Naval draws inspiration from nature (you can’t help but think of the deep blue sea), described as the perfect backdrop for a wide range of interior design styles albeit  for coastal-inspired interior or a minimalist space. 


Naval Sherwin-Williams via / Encounter palette 


With its deep indigo hue, Dock Blue is a generous and indulgent colour. Below suggested colour palettes from Little Greene.

Dock Blue from Little Greene

Farrow & Ball – Dark blues, with their inky undertones, are a universally flattering option for rooms both large and small, making a wonderfully unexpected alternative to charcoal grey.


A deep, intense Scotch Blue – the new Colour by Nature palette from Farrow & Ball, created in collaboration with the National History Museum to bring the true colours of nature into your home. 



Farrow and Ball ‘De Nimes– inspired by the cloth of everyday workwear made in the French city Nîmes. Like denim, its blue hue is ultimately fashionable and yet always feels grounded.


Looking for other paint directions? Here some other interesting colors we collected:


Statement Blue Jotun 

Notte paint by Graham & Brown 

Northern Light River Hans Blomquist + Bauwerk / Bauwerk Blues Squid Ink






Dark-coloured ramen restaurant by Carpenter + Mason via Dezeen 



Pair indigo with soft scandi shades such as pale pink, naturals or mauve. Another perfect match? Indigo with natural wood. 

Don’t forget to bring indigo into accessories and decor through prints, patterns albeit on the wall to the detail on cushions. Embrace on trend traditional textile techniques for a contemporary home design. Be inspired for example by the Shibori dyeing technique, which produces beautiful patterns on fabric, and play with different layers of indigo to create a beautiful, on trend and at the same time everlasting decor.

Stay tuned on @italianbark for more tips and inspirations in intriguing indigo. 



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