COLOR OF THE MONTH | Be bold in Chinese Red – part 1

by Lynessa Hancock


Be inspired by the red color trend for 2020 and 2021 in Interiors and Design

Fancy a heart-warming colour for February; the month that brings us Valentine’s day.

Romance is in the air and we are sharing the love for red with a vivid Chinese Red – Vermillion, a colour that will make your heart flutter and send your pulse racing.

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With All My heart by Doug Hyde via/ source


Pills of Vermilion or Chinese Red 


@houtique_, @casacorperu designed by @homeavenuedesigners / @cristinanavastudio /via


Red, the colour of blood and fire; a colour that ignites an array of emotions. Feelings of passion/desire to associations with aggression and even danger. Vermilion red is considered the colour of life and eternity – sharing the same symbolism as red; a power colour associated with love, marriage and religion.

Throughout history, the colour red has held a special significance for cultures world-wide. In the Western culture the colour red is most commonly associated with love. The importance of Vermilion in China has caused it to be known as “Chinese red.Reda colour thought to be symbolic of life and good fortune, it was used to paint temples and even the Emperor’s carriage.

Vermilion from China, painting by Stefan Muntwyler via


The name Vermillion originated because it had a similar colour to the natural red dye made from an insect, the Kermes vermilio.

A tone of rich red with a bit or orange in it Vermilion Red is both a brilliant red or scarlet pigment, originally made from the powdered mineral cinnabar. Desirable yet deadly! Cinnabar contains mercury, so the mining and creation of cinnabar used to make vermilion pigment was difficult, expensive and dangerous due to the toxicity. Vermillion is not one specific hue; mercuric sulfides make a range of warm hues, from bright orange-red to a duller reddish-purple. The term cinnabar was used interchangeably with Vermilion until the 17th century, when Vermilion became the more common name. Although, cinnabar refers to the mineral which when crushed into a pigment becomes Vermilion.

Red Vermilion can be produced either naturally from the mineral cinnabar as well as artificially. Probably the first to make synthetic Vermilion were the Chinese; as early as the 4th BC.  The brilliant and distinctive red of Vermilion was used extensively across thousands of years of history – in the art and decoration of Ancient China and Rome, in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, paintings of the Renaissance and as sindoor in India. In Medieval times, synthetic Vermilion was as costly as gold leaf. 


Fresco from Sala di Grande Dipinto, Scene VI in the Villa de Misteri, Pompeii source


Red was one of the most popular colours in roman wall art and applied to street walls; in Rome, the precious pigment Vermilion was used to paint frescoes, decorate statues, even as a cosmetic. In Roman triumphs, the victors had their faces covered with Vermilion powder.

Natural Vermilion was the most expensive pigment used by the romans for wall paintings. Cinnabar was used to paint the walls of some of the most luxurious villas in Pompeii, including the Villa of the Mysteries Italian: Villa dei Misteri. The vivid and bright red ‘Vermilion’ was also used by painters during the Renaissance. Although the pigment is typically an orange-red, it has one defect; it tends to darken over time.

Vermilion was the primary red pigment utilised by European painters from the Renaissance and remained the most popular red pigment through the 20th century, until the expense and toxicity meant that a majority of artists switched to Cadmium red. 


Vermilion pigment, cinnabar- natural source of vermilion pigment, cadmium red pigment source

@bazar_du_sud_ / shades of Vermilion source 


Vermilion or Chinese Red colour in design


Between the wide range of reds, as a reference in graphic design, you can pick up these color codes 

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Bringing the Red color trend into interiors



February palette by TOAST mixes red with olive, ochre, steel blue and indigo.


 Bold colour styled for the march issue @livingetcuk shot by @jakecurtisphoto, via @hannahfranklininteriorstylist 1,2,3


Via Design Michaelis Boyd Associates, Diapo, Webb Yates Engineers 

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red color trend, red moodboard, red design, red interiors



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