Indigo is a deep color close to the color wheel blue (a primary color in the RGB color space), as well as to some variants of ultramarine, based on the ancient dye of the same name. The word “indigo” comes from the Latin word indicum, meaning “Indian”, as the dye was originally exported to Europe from India.
It is traditionally regarded as a color in the visible spectrum, as well as one of the seven colors of the rainbow: the color between blue and violet; however, sources differ as to its actual position in the electromagnetic spectrum.
The first known recorded use of indigo as a color name in English was in 1289.
Indigo is a dark and rich color that sits between blue and violet. It represents tranquility, harmony, confidence, and integrity and is ideal for use in a variety of graphic designs.
Indigo is a very captivating color, known as the color balance between violet and blue. It is visible in the light spectrum at a wavelength of 420-440 nanometers. It is also one of the seven colors of the rainbow.
Indigo color is the darkest of the seven colors of the rainbow. It looks inconspicuous between blue and purple. However, because the relationship between red is added to blue, it has both the calmness of blue and the kinetic energy of red. Indigo is neither an additive nor a subtractive primary color.
Indigo gets its name from the plant, Indigo, which can be made into Dacheng blue dye. Its root is derived from the Latin indicum, meaning “Indian”, as the dye was originally exported from India to Europe.
Indigo is an excellent colorant and has the best fixing power of all-natural pigments. It is used in architectural murals, utensil patterns, fabric dyeing, paints and varnishes, and other painting products.
Indigofera tinctoria and related species were cultivated in East Asia, Egypt, India, Bangladesh and Peru in antiquity. The earliest direct evidence for the use of indigo dates to around 4000 BC and comes from Huaca Prieta, in contemporary Peru. Pliny the Elder mentions India as the source of the dye after which it was named. It was imported from there in small quantities via the Silk Road.
The Ancient Greek term for the dye was Ἰνδικὸν φάρμακον (“Indian dye”), which, adopted to Latin (second declension case) as indicum or indico and via Portuguese, gave rise to the modern word indigo.
Spanish explorers discovered an American species of indigo and began to cultivate the product in Guatemala. The English and French subsequently began to encourage indigo cultivation in their colonies in the West Indies.
In North America, indigo was introduced by Eliza Lucas into colonial South Carolina, where it became the colony’s second-most important cash crop (after rice). Before the Revolutionary War, indigo accounted for more than one-third of the value of exports from the American colonies.
Blue dye can be made from two different types of plants: the indigo plant, which produces the best results, and from the woad plant Isatis tinctoria, also known as pastel. For a long time, woad was the main source of blue dye in Europe. Woad was replaced by true indigo as trade routes opened up, and both plant sources have now been largely replaced by synthetic dyes.
Labeled a secondary color on the color wheel, indigo is formed from mixing primary colors blue and red, creating a beautiful, rich shade. As indigo is mixed, there are many different shades available, sometimes causing confusion over what the ‘true’ color is meant to be.
Pantone(opens in new tab) have selected their color of 2022 as ‘17-3938 Very Peri’ which is described by Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, very similarly to what makes an indigo shade, ‘encompassing the qualities of the blues’ with a ‘violet red undertone’. Eiseman goes on to say the color, ‘displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expressions’. 7-3938 Very Peri marks how we will be seeing this color palette used across the design world this year to create uplifting, inviting spaces.
When choosing room color ideas, indigo is a timeless and versatile shade to use in an interior space. Patrick O’Donnell, Farrow & Ball(opens in new tab) Brand Ambassador, states, ‘indigo can create a very regal backdrop for an elegant sitting room when teamed with a clean white trim – or it can play to the ‘Pop Art’ characteristics when teamed with a bright and clean yellow’.
Like the accent wall seen as earlier, indigo makes yet another case for why it belongs on your walls (at least one of them). Keep it plain, or follow in the footsteps of this space and create a chic pattern or a mural with indigo as the primary color. It’ll frame a bed perfectly, or really any other furniture you place.
It’s hard to think of a better space for indigo tile than one that’s surrounded with water, such as the shower. In this bathroom, rectangular shapes are modern but the shade and shiny finish feel playful and fresh.
The rug, ottoman-meets-coffee-table, and couch in this living area shows that your indigo and blue shades don’t need to match perfectly to look fantastic when paired together. This color invigorates beige walls and the surprising pops of red make it all the cooler of a space.
What better way to add depth and sleek flair to a room than through an indigo accent wall? This dining area was primarily white and beige, but the addition of a deeply saturated portion of the wall instantly infuses more style and an eye-catching statement.
Modern rooms aren’t limited to the most muted colors of the rainbow. As this delightful kitchen proves, dark blues like indigo can be just as useful for getting across the mod message. The addition of matching accents and rugs makes it all the better, too.
Leather couches fell out of favor awhile ago, making room for fan-favorites linen and bouclé, but this deep blue version makes a case for why you should reconsider. In a space like a living room, there a plenty of soft furnishings already. The smooth finish of the leather mixed with the unique color choice makes it a great standout piece.
Blue is a fantastic color for a wide range of reasons, one being that it’s incredibly versatile when it comes to influencing the atmosphere and mood of a room. Whether it’s in an office or a dining area, indigo is a good pick for adding a cozy, but elevated tilt.
Though blue is often seen as a bright and bold color, it’s not one to shy away from. As this bedroom shows, coordinating your bedding with artwork, lighting and other accents isn’t overbearing. The end result can feel fresh, bright, and more invigorating than a neutral space.
Light and airy is the name of the game in this minimal bathroom, but the dark indigo cabinets below make it feel grounded and cozy. Monochrome spaces (particularly white and lighter hues) can feel like they’re lacking some kind of dimension, but a deep shade instantly diffuses that situation.
Rugs are a perfect way to incorporate indigo. It adds style and dimension without the same permanence as paint or wallpaper. Because they’re so easy to change out, you’ll be able to create an entirely new feel to the room whenever you feel like it.
Whether you are decorating with blue or decorating with purple, you may be wondering which category indigo falls into.
With there being many different shades of indigo available, there can sometimes be confusion over whether indigo is considered purple or blue. Indigo sits between blue and purple (violet) in the color wheel, so it can be considered as a mix of both. Patrick O’Donnell from Farrow & Ball states, ‘indigo is perceived mainly as blue with an underlying violet note. It can sometimes be a hard color to truly classify, as some ‘indigo’ colors can read closer to purple’.
The closest color to indigo according to the color spectrum is blue. As discussed, indigo sits between blue and purple (violet) on the color wheel, violet sits halfway between blue and purple, so the indigo shade is technically closest to blue.
As indigo is a mixture of primary colors, there are many contrasting shades out there, which adds to the debate of what color indigo is meant to be. It is close to the shade of purple but sits independently within the color spectrum.
Both indigo and navy can be considered as darker blues so there is a connection between them, however, indigo can be seen as a more contemporary blue and slightly lighter than navy, whilst navy is more traditional and somewhat darker than indigo.
When it comes to blue room ideas, Jane Rockett, co-founder of Rockett St George, says, ‘Indigo and deep navy tones promote calmness and are the perfect choice for your living room, bedroom or guest room – typically spaces that you go to for escape and respite.’
Because indigo isn’t overpowering – in fact, this color often feels like it is receding – it can help a compact room appear to have more space, which can makes it a great color choice also for small room ideas.
Indigo is a good color for a home – and not just aesthetically. Our perception of indigo has an affect on our moods, too. This is true of all blue room ideas. However, bear in mind that purple room ideas, to which indigo is closely related is rather more stimulating.
As fabric and wallpaper designer Vanessa Arbuthnott(opens in new tab) says in our feature on color psychology in interior design, ‘It’s been proven that students exposed to indigo, blue and purple before undertaking an exam achieved greater results, making it the perfect color palette for our home office or bedroom.’
Indigo creates instant impact in a room, so you might decide to use it with white or grey to temper it and to create an elegant feel. In a cool, north-facing room, you could bring warmth and contrast by putting indigo with deep, earthy yellows or pinkish-terracottas. In naturally bright rooms, accent colors in cooler shades on the same side of the color wheel (think pale blues), will help dampen the bold effect indigo creates.
Blue living rooms can feel cold unless they receive plenty of sunny daylight, but the hint of red in indigo can make it a great choice. Used on walls, it will make the space feel cozy and vibrant; or you could introduce it as an accent shade in flooring, contrasting with white walls for a timeless feel.
Blue bedroom ideas are known to promote a calm feeling and good quality sleep, however, be aware that indigo does have a touch of red in it, so it won’t necessarily feel calm and relaxing. However, it will feel warm and cossetting if used on walls or bedlinen.
Blue kitchen ideas have emerged as some of the most popular kitchen color ideas in the past few years, and no wonder. Cabinetry painted in blue, particularly deep blue such as indigo, looks elegant, smart and timeless.
While blue bathroom ideas are traditional and perennially popular, they can feel cold. It’s also important for bathrooms to be bright, which means indigo is a challenging shade. We would advise limiting indigo to towels and accessories, or putting it on walls of powder rooms which can be less practical.
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