The COLOR CODEX series — to which SEMIOVOX has invited our semiotician colleagues from around the world to contribute — explores the unexpected associations evoked for each of us by specific colors found in the material world.
Years ago, I decided to take a big step in life. I left my chaotic, colourful, warm, tropical home country, with its intense, spicy flavours that bring you out in a sweat, to move to an organized, grey, cold land, with insipid, tasteless foods. One cold, snowy day I arrived — on the wings of love — in the northern region of Sweden: Dalarna.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quiet, noiseless landscape. A sunny winter’s day looked exactly like the exotic Christmas cards I had seen before I came: beautiful pine trees dressed in a heavy white coat (while giving the impression that they were tired of wearing it) in a snowy landscape.
What struck me the most were the houses, often beautifully decorated with “Kurbits” (decorative folk paintings from Dalarna), and all of them painted a strong, distinct red colour. I thought it was weird because I associated red with danger, blood, fire. Why paint wooden houses in such an unsafe colour? But Swedes are a practical and inventive people. Red is clearly visible in this limitless whiteness. Red is not only beautiful to look at, but it’s also environmentally friendly because it has a preserving effect on wood.
The colour was developed in the region and has a long history. From the 16th through the 18th century, red paint was a status symbol — available only to the wealthy. In the 18th century, industrial production of red paint took off at the Falun Copper Mine. The “Falu-Red” paint made it possible for other social classes to paint their homes this colour.
At about the same time, a tasty bologna sausage (korv) appeared on the scene: the Falukorv. German migrant miners began to make smoked sausages from parts of the ox left over after slaughter, encased in a bright red skin. (The choice of colour was a happy accident, as the red skin had already been invented by a French butcher from Lyon.) During the sixties, with its “flower power” zeitgeist, a flowery skinned Falukorv was launched… without success. All that remains is the song: “I want Flowery Falukorv for lunch, Mama, I don’t want anything else. I hate tomato, fish and spinach…” Nowadays, I can’t imagine Falukorv sausages in any other colour but red.
I’ve become “snowed-in” by Swedish culture. These days I choose quietness rather than chaos. Falukorv Red has become my favourite hot colour — especially because I’m a meat lover myself. Like the red houses and the Dalahäst (a wooden horse from Dalarna), Falukorv Red symbolizes Swedishness itself.
Google may describe Falukorv as a “phallic sausage” — but its red color has nothing to do with it.
COLOR CODEX: Martha Arango (Sweden) on FALUKORV RED | Audrey Bartis (France) on KYOTO MOSS | Maciej Biedziński (Poland) on SKIN-DEEP ORANGE | Natasha Delliston (England) on MARRAKESH MINT | Whitney Dunlap-Fowler (USA) on RESURRECTION CANARY BLUE | Josh Glenn (USA) on TOLKIEN GREEN | Aiyana Gunjan (India) on LETTERBOX RED | Sarah Johnson (Canada) on ARMY GREEN | Gemma Jones (Netherlands) on TBD | Lucia Laurent-Neva (England) on TEAL BLUE VOYAGER | Rachel Lawes (England) on DEVIL GREEN | Charles Leech (Canada) on STORMTROOPER WHITE | William Liu (China) on PINING GREEN | Ramona Lyons (USA) on GOTH PURPLE | Sónia Marques (Portugal) on RUNAWAY BURRO | Max Matus (Mexico) on CALIFORNIAN BLUE | Chirag Mediratta (Canada / India) on AUROVILLE ORANGE | Clio Meurer (France) on PARIS LUMINOUS GREY | Elodie Laye Mielczarek (France) on TBD | Serdar Patkin (Turkey / England) on AMBIENT AMBER | Maria Papanthymou (Russia / Greece) on AGALMATOLITE WHITE | Vijay Parthasarathy (USA) on ALPHONSO YELLOW | Greg Rowland (England) on LAUNDROMAT FUTURA | Tim Spencer (England) on ELECTRO-EROTIC COBALT | Ximena Tobi (Argentina) on VILLA MISERIA BRICK | Alfredo Troncoso (Mexico) on BORGES GLAUQUE.