Iridescent color is a naturally occurring phenomenon where certain surfaces appear to change color gradually when you view them from different angles. We see iridescent color throughout nature on bubbles, butterflies, peacock feathers, and beetle shells. But iridescent color is not just illusive and gorgeous but also a hot design trend, spreading from the European markets of Paris and Milan to the United States. Iridescent color is perhaps fitting for this moment in time when the lines between reality and our digital lives have become so blurred.
What is Iridescent Color?
Iridescent color is a type of structural optical phenomenon based on the physical properties of an object rather than pigments or dyes like other colors. As is the case with iridescent color, the rainbow appearance of an object is a result of the way light interacts with the object, such as by reflection, diffraction, or interference. These cause different wavelengths of light to be reflectively transmitted back to our eyes, resulting in our eyes perceiving the shifting colors.
Iridescent color is not a property of the object but rather a result of the interplay of light with the surface of the object and the viewer’s perspective. Interference in an object’s surface creates iridescent color by causing light waves to align with one another to either amplify or mute particular color angles based on a viewer’s perspective.
The root of the word iridescent is instructive. We derive iridescent from the Greek word iris, meaning rainbow. This word comes from the Greek goddess of the same name, who was a messenger of the gods and the personification of a rainbow.
How to Use Iridescent Color in Your Home Design
Iridescence is not just striking in nature; you can use it to energize your home design. We have rounded up some fun ways to add iridescent color and bring just a bit of glam to your home.
Iridescent Bathroom Tile
Iridescent bathroom tile is the ideal way to create a glamorous but serene escape from the world outside. Surround your space with small iridescent tiles or just use them as an accent for neutral tiles. There are iridescent tile options of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
This light fixture from Dowsing & Reynolds is reminiscent of most of our first experiences with iridescent bubbles. These shimmering bubbles float just above the dining table to create a soft but definite presence. The varying shades of lilac, blue, and pink complements the white, black, or lilac electrical cable that attaches it to the ceiling.
Bed linens and other home textiles are an easy way to add iridescent color to your home without a significant investment. For the most nuanced look, layer textiles with differing textures that heighten the style including metallics, velvets, and woolens.
Iridescent wall tile doesn’t work for every home style, but if you want to add some understated glimmer, try mother-of-pearl wall tile. This wall tile has the same ivory sparkle as mother-of-pearl. This penny round tile has a subtle shine that works with even traditional design.
Decor accents like wall art, lamps, and furniture are a good way to add iridescent color to your home in a non-permanent way. This makes it easy to add or remove pieces as you desire. Mirrored pieces with just a touch of iridescence make for understated options.
Most of the iridescent color we see is visible in the natural world. Thus, pool tiling is the ideal place to use iridescent tile, which provides a soothing backdrop and a spa-like atmosphere.
Iridescent Color Palettes
Even though iridescent color is an optical phenomenon rather than a particular dye or pigment, we can take inspiration from the varying colors of iridescence to create unique color palettes.
Light Iridescent Color Palette
We based this light iridescent color palette on the ever-changing and delicate colors of shimmering bubbles. These colors are from the Benjamin Moore collection.
- Soft Mint (2041-60)
- Spring Rain (723)
- Lavender Mist (2070-60)
- Valentines Day (2077-60)
Dark Iridescent Color Palette
We considered the colors of the shimmering night sky to imagine this color palette. These colors also come from the Benjamin Moore paint collection.
- Symphony Blue (2060-10)
- Naples Blue (2057-30)
- Majestic Violet (2068-10)
- Mauve Blush (2115-40)