Charting the colors of our lives

What is the color you most associate with your early childhood? Your later youth? A defining decade of your life? What color represents where you are today?

Those are the four questions that provide structure to a delightful new podcast, “The Chromologist,” produced by Farrow & Ball, a paint and wallpaper manufacturer based in Wimborne, England.

In the half-hour episodes, host Patrick “Paddy” O’Donnell talks with designers, artists, creatives and performers about how color has shaped their lives and identities.

“Chromologist is actually a word we created, mixing together chronology and chromatology to suggest the way life, color and design weave together,” O’Donnell says in a preview of the podcast, which launched in March and will have eight episodes in its inaugural season.

“Color has always been a part of my own life, working as a chef, a florist, then a specialist painter and now as a color expert for Farrow & Ball,” O’Donnell adds.

Before each conversation, O’Donnell has guests pick their formative and representative hues from the Farrow & Ball palette. The podcast includes a link to their picks in each episode’s show notes — a helpful touch for listeners.

The Chromologist guests include:

* Mary Portas, retail consultant, broadcaster and founder of creative agency Portas, who tells O’Donnell: “The world is colorful. I always see my life in color,” as she gives him a peek inside her bright orange powder room.

* Tan France, fashion guru and co-star of “Queer Eye,” who tells of a life replete with the bright reds of Indian weddings, greens of the mountains in which he now lives and the blues of his wardrobe.

* Kassia St. Clair, color historian and author of “The Secret Lives of Color,” who shares stories of her father’s obsession with beige and her own connection to pink.

* Cerys Matthews, singer, author and broadcaster, who discovers a shared love with O’Donnell of “mud” colors and explains her black period.

* Christopher John Rogers, a fashion designer who collaborated with Farrow & Ball on a Carte Blanche capsule collection of paint and paper, who explains why the rich brown Cardamom from that collection defines his life right now. “For me, this earth color is enveloping and sexy and sophisticated, and I feel it’s about me being more centered and more grounded in my life.”

I love the wide-ranging conversations and the personal stories the guests share about their lives. But I also love the entire conceit of asking guests to think not just of color in their homes or wardrobes but in terms of their whole lives.

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I know interior designers often ask clients about their color likes and dislikes. I think it would be fascinating to put “The Chromologist” questions to clients. Think of the conversations that could open up as clients explain the color that best represents their current stage of life —and why.

O’Donnell ends each episode by giving the guests a swatch or sample pot of a color he thinks they should carry forward into their lives as their “future color.” Their reactions are sometimes funny: Mary Portas didn’t know quite what to make of his selection of the purple Imperial Mary, especially after she spent part of the episode talking about her current affinity for earthy tones. But after a moment of consideration, she decides the strong, majestic and powerful color may, in fact, be fitting for her — and appropriate for a barn door on her property.

More on color

If you binge “The Chromologist” episodes like I did and still want more on color, check out “The Color Authority” podcast hosted by Judith van Vilet, color consultant and a member of the Color Marketing Group’s executive committee.

In recent episodes, she talks with designer Jessica Bantom about the role color plays in honoring identity and designer Andrea Hartea about how to select the right colors for yourself and your clients. Other guests include fashion designers, color experts, industrial designers, editors and artists.

A podcast might not be the first place you turn to for color inspiration, but these podcasts are sure to inspire new ways of looking paint samples, wallpaper snippets and fabric swatches.

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