Paint Chips tells the story of the Esquire, a Brooklyn apartment building that decided each floor would be allowed to choose the exterior colors of their doors, as well as each door’s jambs, lintel and sill.
The result? A classic tale of too many cooks in the kitchen. Years have passed and there’s still no agreement. Check out these quotes from different residents of the building:
“It really is a conflict of too many creative people.”
“It’s like the Bloods and the Crips—except it’s the Teals and the Dark Charcoals.”
“Most people on this floor are somehow involved in the visual arts, so everyone has a feeling about color, you know, one way or the other.”
“It was like the Civil War—brother against brother. I was in the charcoal camp, the side of righteousness.”
“Someone who shall remain nameless looked at me and said that I had to go along with whatever the majority votes, because it’s a democracy. I said, ‘No, I don’t think so. That’s tyranny of the majority.’”
One resident announced that the turquoise color another had selected for her trim made her nauseated leading to this comment: “That’s not nice. Say ‘It’s not to my taste,’ not ‘It makes me sick.’ That’s intolerance, which is the basis of oppression and bigotry.”
“Yeah, there’s been tension. But if more than four eyes roll at once, a community is forming. I think the root of the problem is resistance to change. As an earnest attempt at micro-democracy, the process was educational and entertaining. But at a point, I was ready for a benign dictatorship. If the board had just sent paint crews to do the job, people would have been thrilled with or gawked at the new coat of paint. I bet that’s how it works in the Gretsch building.”
“We live in a hyper design age, where we are all raging aesthetes.”
When it comes to designing something, a benevolent dictator is sometimes a welcome alternative to the chaos of democracy.