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Hands holding indigo with the word indigo in white.|

Indigo: Introspective & Powerful

Nestled between blue and purple on the color wheel is the beautiful color indigo. This often-overlooked color has been around for many years and has an interesting history. This blue and purple hybrid is the color of jeans, many flowers, the night sky, and is a popular dye. It carries much meaning, symbolism, and history and has many uses for interior designers in residential or commercial projects. 

Color Meaning and Symbolism 

Indigo is an introspective, powerful, creative, and dramatic color that inspires, encourages, and calms. It is often said to be connected to our intuition and a color associated with profound wisdom, truth, and structure. From this wisdom comes freedom, spirituality, and the opportunity to look at life from a new perspective. However, there are some negative associations as well. For some, indigo can be an irritating color that feels critical and intolerant. 

Examples of indigo dyed shibori fabrics hanging to dry.
Examples of shibori dyed with indigo.

History of Indigo 

Humans have used indigo as a dye for many years. (Technically speaking, it’s a pigment, not a dye.) Made from the indigofera plant indigenous to India, Africa, and Asia, natural indigo was in high demand before the creation of a synthetic version of the dye in the 1800s. Indigo has a problematic history, with the plant’s deep connections to the international slave trade and the mistreatment of workers in Africa, India, and beyond. Western European cultures often traded enslaved people for indigo and forced cultivators in India to grow indigo in order to meet the rising demand. However, in her interview with National Public Radio (NPR), author Catherine E. McKinley discusses how it also financially empowered many African women despite its many negative associations throughout history. 

Indigo also has a connection with something many of us wear often: jeans! In 1873, Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss were given a patent to create the first pairs of blue jeans using indigo to give the pants their infamous color. 

Designing with Indigo 

Indigo is a versatile color when it comes to its uses in design. It is often seen as a luxurious color and can give a modern feel to the room you use it in. Looking for a dramatic statement? Use it as the primary color on the walls and furniture choices in your space. Not looking for too much drama? Start by using pops of indigo as an accent color through throw pillows, rugs, or throws. Combine indigo with white, beige, or cream for a coastal feel. Go for a vibrant look by combining indigo with bright pinks and oranges. Use as a solid color or in a shibori or shibori-inspired pattern.

Tie Dye Folds Pattern P1081 in Blue HC Privacy Curtain
Shibori-Inspired Pattern P1081

Have you used indigo in any of your commercial projects? We love working with color and seeing how you use it. Tag us on Instagram with your favorite projects! 

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Emma Becker

Emma Becker is a teaching artist and arts administrator working in the state of Rhode Island. She believes art, creativity, and self-expression are essential parts of education. The daughter of a weaver, she grew up surrounded by textiles and developed a deep respect for textiles and their makers.


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