The Blue House at the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco, which was once owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé.

I Shafiq/Shutterstock

Exploring the Enduring Allure of Yves Klein Blue

Style Director Tori Mellott shares her fascination (and shopping picks) in the iconic shade.

August 26, 2022
Style Director Tori Mellott /John Bessler

Twenty-five years ago, when I started out in the design industry, a phrase I heard from time to time was “Yves Klein Blue.” Of course, I had no clue who Yves Klein was, why the word “blue” came after his name, and, if he was, in fact, a person at all. Being too sheepish to ask, I started sleuthing and I stumbled on the answer: Yves Klein was a French artist who, in collaboration with Edouard Adam, a Parisian art paint supplier, developed the very intense and very recognizable hue, called International Klein Blue (IKB) or Yves Klein Blue. The paint is formulated using ultramarine and a matte, synthetic resin binder that suspends the color and allows the pigment to maintain as much of its original qualities and intensity of color as possible.

Klein went on to produce many works with this very recognizable and specific shade of blue. I find that the coolest (and most filthy rich) people usually have an Yves Klein work of art casually on display somewhere. Even though I’ll probably never be able to afford an original (my birthday is June 19th, in case you were wondering) here are some of my favorite products that are either official editions from the Yves Klein estate or beautiful pieces that capture the essence of, quite possibly, the most famous color. Certainly, one of the only colors with a trademark and Wikipedia page!

  • Leave it to the master interior designer, Jacques Garcia, to use the neoclassical fireplace by Jean-Charles Moreux as the anchor for a swath of silver-leafed, glass panels topped off with a canvas (under plexi) by Yves Klein.

    Phillipe Garcia
  • A Klein-inspired piece by Henryk Lobaczewski is the perfect dollop of drama for a house otherwise bedecked in floor-to-ceiling neutrals.

    Henryk. Studio/@henryk_studio

Tori’s Yves Klein Blue Picks

  • “Klein originally designed this table in 1961. The tables are now made by Artware Editions, which partners with the Paris-based Yves Klein Archive. Klein was truly a genius—he married the functionality of furniture with the sublime beauty of art. And just imagine how books and objet would look set against a sea of this magnetic color!”

    Table IKB by Yves Klein, $23,000, 1stdibs.com

  • “Quilts always feel too granny and homespun for me. That’s why I’m so attracted to this quilt by designer Laura Preston—it evokes a fresh and modern spirit with just the right amount of oomph for the bedroom without going overboard.”

    YKB Wall Quilt by Vacilando Quilting Co., $200, westelm.com

  • “If I can’t own a piece of Yves Klein’s art, at least I can buy the book and become an unofficial expert on his life and artwork and who doesn’t love a good art book?”

    Yves Klein by Hannah Weitemeier, $20, luluandgeorgia.com

  • “The only way I ever want to sharpen my pencils. Now all I need are matching pencils…”

    Klein Blue Metal Sharpening Machine by Caran d’Ache, $199, thepencompany.com

  • “While I haven’t smelled this perfume firsthand, I very much trust the company who makes it. The tagline for this scent is ‘Live Beyond Logic’ and, quite frankly, that sounds pretty logical to me.”

    This Is Not A Blue Bottle Eau de Parfum by Histoires de Parfums, $158, smallflower.com

  • “Every dining room deserves a fabulous and enchanting chandelier. This one is not only an interesting shape but would also be the perfect infusion of color. Pro tip: You NEED this chandelier if the walls of your dining room are salmon pink! It’s the perfect color combo, IMHO!”

    Menegario Chandelier by Mazzega 1946, $3,720, artemest.com

  • “These pumps are the perfect combo of classic and cool. Fun fact: Yves Saint Laurent’s home in Morocco was painted an electric shade of YKB!”

    Zoe Pumps in Crepe de Chine by Saint Laurent, $645, mytheresa.com

  • “Wake up your weekend guests with a jolt of YKB. Use this pitcher at breakfast and your house guests will be up and at ‘em in no time!”

    Raawii Strøm Jug by Vilhelm Lundstrøm, $139, store.moma.org

  • “An Yves Klein original. You can find them at selected galleries, at auction and on 1st Dibs. By using his signature paint in a monochromatic application, he instantly transformed everyday objects into graphic bold artistic statements and by doing so his pieces are always the scene-stealers of every room.”

    La Terre Bleue by Yves Klein, €75,000, artsy.net

  • “Start ‘em young—that’s my motto! It’s never too early to introduce children to art, artists, and anything in good taste. Supplement the Mother Goose classics with this cleverly illustrated book that is both engaging and informative. And bonus points if you take your child to an art openings and he or she drops some IKB knowledge on a pompous adult!”

    Yves Klein Painted Everything Blue and Wasn’t Sorry by Fausto Gilberti, $18, carlyleavenue.com

  • “Want just a whisper of this attention-seeking color? This functional and durable basket is perfect for a mudroom or entryway—stash dog leashes, umbrellas, and sports equipment into this chic catch-all. Call it YKB Lite.”

    Mifuko Large Blue and White Basket by Beach Haus, $96, verishop.com

  • “I trust any product that’s beautifully packaged. I figure if they went through the trouble of making the outside beautiful, surely, they would care about the quality of what is inside. So mix me up a G&T with a splash of YKB!”

    Comte de Grasse 44°N Gin, 50cl, £75, fortnumandmason.com

  • “More sculpture than vase, this intriguing piece would look perfect perched on a mantle or nestled in a bookshelf.”

    Lattice Paper Clay Vase by De la Jardin, $260, delajardin.com

  • “This beautifully crafted and perfectly-colored throw will instantly chase away and winter blues and replace them with a delicious case of the Yves Klein blues.”

    Chibuleo Baby Alpaca Wool Throw Blanket by Ecualama, $65, ecualama.com

  • “The candle is the perfect accessory for those who can’t fully commit to a major YKB statement piece. Get a feel for how the color looks in your space and then let it burn.”

    Artemis Candle by Neos Candlestudio, $48, wolfandbadger.com

  • “Sculptural, textural, and functional—a hat trick in the world of design. If you want something edgy yet colorful, this lamp checks all the boxes!”

    Double Alexandre Lamp by Kimille Taylor, $3,500, kimilletaylor.com