It was clear we needed to start with something orange.
In color theory, orange is a secondary color: a combination of two primary colors, yellow and red. Orange is ubiquitous and deliciously diverse -- transcending worlds past and present, designed objects and living things, museum collections and contemporary creative practices. Set between yellow and red, orange is a color of remix, whimsy, odds & ends, and unlikely connections.
Orange contains multitudes: a color and a fruit, an ancient Roman City and a quintessentially American county. It is a color of amusement (Frank Sinatra called it the happiest color), and animals and human beings alike use the brightest tints to enhance visibility and issue warning. The toxic skin of Poisonous Dart Frog is not far from the standard International Orange used by NASA. The unrhymeable english word “orange” is its own remix. Formerly known as yellow-red, orange is a cognate of laranja in Portuguese, naranja in Spanish, and the original naranga in Sanskrit.
Derived from pigments spanning the globe (Vermillion, Realgar, Orpiment), Orange is a color that is as ancient as it is modern, found in the Fushimi Irari Grand Shrine and in mid-20th century design and minimalist sculpture.The impressionists, with the benefit of manufactured chrome pigments and metal paint tubes, took to painting landscapes outdoors, with a focus on the warm light of the agrarian South of France. Here, in the paintings of Van Gogh, Monet, and more, we see orange defined in contrast with complementary blues and greens. In contemporary sculpture, we find some of the most seductive interpretations of orange. In Olafur Eliasson’s architectural installations, the artist floods rooms in warm glowing light, bringing people together in shared space (The Weather Project), while the late Christo and Jean-Claude’s orange fabric installations (The Gates) punctuate and celebrate iconic global landscapes like Central Park.
Orange is also an iconically New York color — a fixture on the city's flag (flashing its Dutch heritage) and the jerseys of its tortured Mets and Knicks. A city always under construction, where cones and pylons abound on every block, New York City exists between states – always changing in unexpected ways. For Apply, a New York City company, started around a kitchen table on the Bowery, we’ve naturally gravitated towards a color that so frequently accents the city’s blocks.
Like most creative explorations at Apply, our work begins with making a sticker. Detour offers a playful remix of two quintessentially orange objects: a monarch butterfly and a DayGlo construction sign. Two disparate objects with seemingly little in common, upon closer examination, share a deeper spiritual connection beyond their shared place on the color wheel. The monarch butterfly, one of the great migratory species on our planet, spends its life fluttering across North America, in a long, circuitous, delightful journey filled with detours ahead.
- Stubbs, Phoebe. Colour in the Making: From Old Wisdom to New Brilliance, 2013
- Pham, Larissa: For the Love of Orange, The Paris Review, 2019.
- Dominis Photo, Frank Sinatra’s Orange Cardigan, BAMF Style, 2020.
- Wikimedia Commons, Strawberry Poison Frog, 2008
- Roelof Louw, Soul City (Pyramid of Oranges), Tate, 1967.
NASA, Looking Back: Astronaut Mae Jemison Suits Up For Launch, 1992.
- Samme Orwig, Christo & Jean-Claude, Encyclopedia Britannica, 2005.
- New York Yimby, Jane Street West Village New York, NY, New York Yimby, 2019.