Predecessors to modern day cosmetics
Curator's Corner, 4/28/2012

Clarins' spin on pinwheels

Clarins' summer collection is already out, but my mind is still on spring and their Colour Breeze Face Palette, which features three different-sized stemless pinwheels against a beige background.

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When I first saw the palette I wasn't so surprised by the motif - the pinwheel has recently been gaining popularity in various forms, especially wedding accoutrements. from Polka Dot Bride, "bouquets" from F*ckyeaweddingideas, ceremony decor from As You Wish, escort cards from Oh Happy Day, centerpiece from Hostess with the Mostess, notecards from Duet Letterpress)

The pinwheel began as a simple children's toy, while the wheels themselves morphed into a popular geometric pattern used for quilts starting around 1795.  Over the years the pinwheel made its way into "high" art, as evidenced by Alexander Calder as well as contemporary artists.  But I think my favorite pinwheel-based art is this installation at Los Angeles' 2007 Swerve Festival (for my fellow Balti-morons, the description of this festival sounds a lot like our Artscape).

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And pinwheels aren't only used in design and art.  In looking up images for this post I found that pinwheels are utilized as the symbol for a variety of charitable causes.  Some examples:

Pinwheels for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - these are made from license plates...

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..."whirrled peace", like this example from Rowan University in New Jersey...

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...and for the prevention of child abuse, demonstrated here at Penn State University:

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Looking at all these makes me think it would have been nice for Clarins to work with one of these organizations and donated a portion of their profits to them, but in all likelihood they may not have realized just how many organizations use the pinwheel motif as a force for positive social change (I certainly had no idea!)  Still, it's a cute palette and I might still pick it up as it will be good for future spring exhibitions.

What do you think of the Clarins palette and pinwheels more generally as a design element?

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