It’s only fitting that a mention of “acid green” should, at this juncture in time, thoroughly stoke the fires of one’s beleaguered imagination. And while a number of companies have trumpeted their choices for the top colors of 2021—ranging from teal to gray and yellow—we’re here to say that this particular shade of acidic green is the true stealth Color of the Year.
To wit: Architect Michael K. Chen pulled the color from a Wolf Kahn painting in the master bedroom of his client’s Manhattan residence, punctuating the space with a slipper chair (shown above at right) upholstered in plush Loro Piana silk velvet, in a hue named Olive Oil. The shade is an uncanny dupe for the Grinch-green Schiaparelli gown Kim Kardashian wore this past holiday season, an ensemble some commenters also likened, perhaps more aptly, to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The cultural moment for this sinister shade may be reaching its apex: Bottega Veneta’s spring/summer 2021 digital runway show was awash in an emerald variant that made its way to the brand’s packaging and accessories shortly thereafter; designer Harry Nuriev, principal of Crosby Studios, told Hypebeast magazine last year that he loves working with “ugly” greens, “like old screens when you turn them off, or grass.” Naturally, this season’s debut Crosby Studios Home collection prominently features unflinching shades of neon lime.
Leah Ring, founder of the multidisciplinary design studio Another Human, declares it one of her “favorite colors.” This makes a lot of sense, considering that Ring is arguably Instagram-famous for her “Zorg” design, best described as a powder-coated throne in fluorescent lime. “I think it adds an edge in a really fun way, and shows that a person doesn’t take themselves—or their space—too seriously.”
It’s worth noting that this is not an ahistorical development. Former ELLE Decor editor in chief Whitney Robinson once declared Farrow & Ball’s similarly deviant Arsenic “the best shade of green,” an “homage to the slightly ghastly shade of green popularized by the Victorians,” and detailed the history of how the actual acid was once used to achieve this now substance-adjacent saturation.
These shades of green are downright volatile, acting as a way of acknowledging and confronting the heightened tensions of everyday life. It’s a complex hue that draws the eye as much as our ire, by turns repulsing and replenishing us. That’s what makes it the unexpected color for this moment: it holds its contradictions, if not in peace—then at least in style.
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