Bitossi Rimini Blu: 2012 Color of the Year

Bitossi Rimini Blu Cylinder Vase still available for sale todayAnnouncing the Retro Renovation 2012 Color of the Year: Bitossi Rimini Blu. Of course, all colors are wonderful, so this is really just for fun. This also gives me the opportunity to write about a color that is not necessarily on the mainstream design community’s radar, but which I think is classic and fabulous. Yes: Rimini Blu. The color — made famous in a line of Bitossi pottery designed by Aldo Londi and officially introduced in 1959 — is a rich royal blue apparently achieved with a proprietary glaze. Lapis lazuli is a synonym, I’d say. So is Cobalt. And Bitossi says the precedent was actually a 1955 Londi vase in a color originally called “Persiano Blu” — Persian Blue.

How classic is this color? When I was at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota this summer, I took this photograph of Carlo Dolci’s “Blue Madonna” — blue being the color typically associated with the Virgin Mary in Western art. Dolci was a Florentine painter patronized by the Medicis, and he painted this exquisite portrait sometime before he died in 1687.  A classic “midcentury modern” color, indeed — in either the 17th century or 20th century.

bitossi rimini blu miniatures

Seven Reasons Why Rimini Blu is my Color of the Year:

  • Since the moment I spotted my first piece of Bitossi Rimini Blu, in summer 2010, I was mesmerized — the color is so pretty to me.
  • The color has a wonderful midcentury pedigree. Londi was a fascinating person. He started doing ceramics when he was 11. According to the website ARS Longa he was held as a prisoner of war in South Africa from 1935-1943. After World War II, he began working with Bitossi and ultimately became famous as its art director. His first line for Bitossi — Rimini Blu, named after (1) the historic Italian coastal town and province of Rimini and (2) the proprietary glaze — seems to have been an enormous hit. In the U.S., the line was marketed by Raymor and sold in many department stores. Bitossi still exists and still manufactures pieces from the Rimini Blu line. So — you can find these ceramics both vintage and new.

    orange and rimini blu pillows

    Orange and Rimini Blu play quite nicely together on my pillows.

  • Rimini Blu plays very nicely with my 2011 Color of the Year, Orange. In fact — if you follow color theory — you know that these two colors are exact opposites on the color wheel. Pairing exact opposites is a classic way to create drama in a room.
  • When you ask people, “What is your favorite color?”, blue is the most common answer — especially among men. Throw the guys a bone.
  • Rich Rimini Royal Persian Lapis Lazuli Cobalt Blu, used an accent, gives your room punch (like black would)… Use it strategically throughout a room, it will help keep your eye moving playfully — dancing — around.
  • It’s not “trendy”. In 2011, I’d say the mass market color story was: Greige and citrine. In 2012, I hear that we’ll be seeing purple and even teal — to layer on the neutral greige that’s been added everywhere. Rimini Blu, on the other hand, has a strong basis in history, so it’s less likely to be less closely aligned with any specific date — more “timeless.”
  • I love to play the contrarian, and think that this color is kind of underappreciated in mainstream pop culture interior design today. This is a wonderful, storied color.

More information about Rimini Blu, from a press release for Bitossi Ceramiche, in English as translated by Google:

When and how: the birth of the Rimini Blu collection
Aldo Londi has been the creative soul of Bitossi Ceramiche for 40years: Thanks to him we have the Rimini Blu collection that is officially dated to 1959 when it was firstly cited on the notebooks of Raymor, the American importer and distributor who first introduced Italian home design to the US market. Traditionally this collection is dated back to 1955 when Londi created the big “Ball Vase” in the characteristic Persiano Blue, but only a few years later a group of objects all bearing this special effect and chromatic tone are gathered into a line of products that was called Rimini Blu. A collection with an extremely modern background for the playful and allusive sense of shapes and for this special decorative technique that was conceived purposedly in the post-war years when it had become necessary to find ways to employ in the growing ceramic industry a not trained labor from agriculture.

That’s where this embossed pattern comes from and it combines a easy technique with the advantage of a pleasant and stunning effect, underlined, in the Rimini Blu, by the chromatic effect obtained by putting underneath yellow and black stripes in those points where the blue turns to green. (emphasis Pam’s)

Hey, if there are Italian speakers in this crowd who can provide a better translation, I would much appreciate it!

More to come on Rimini Blu throughout the year. Meanwhile, here are some more resources:

There is always a lot of Bitossi Rimini Blu promoted for sale on ebay:

Beware, however, that what sellers call “Bitossi” or “Raymor” or “vintage” may be hard to pin down, in absence of a true mark, without expert consultation. Scott Lindberg, who runs the arslonga website clarified in another forum, in response to someone helping with identification:

It might be by Bitossi, an Italian manufacturer who produced the Rimini Blu line, but I don’t think this particular example is part of the line in question. The blue glaze is similar, but the impressed designs are not quite right. Rimini Blu was designed by Aldo Londi, the art director at Bitossi, and beside the tell-tale blue-green faience glaze was embossed with a series of shapes: circles with hatch marks through them, series of parallel lines, etc. I’ve never seen a marked piece of Rimini Blu without the circle with the # sign embossed in it.

Just to clarify the name of the line, it indeed is Rimini Blu … not Raymor Rimini. Raymor was a distributer of mid-20th century decorative arts, and had shops in Chicago and New York. They also distributed wares to higher end department stores around the country. Designers from all over the world sold their wares through Raymor, which began as a collaboration between the Richards-Morganthou (where the RAY-MOR name came from) company and famed American industrial designer Russel Wright as a means to distribute his first line of dinnerware: American Modern. That line was such a success Raymor went on to add other designers to their roster: Ben Seibel, Michael Lax, Arthur Umanoff, Richard Galef, Aldo Londi, Marcello Fantoni, and dozens (if not hundreds) of others.

The problem with designating a piece as “Raymor” comes with the many competitors bringing similar wares into the United States. One such company, Rosenthal-Netter, employed some of the same manufacturers as Raymor … including Bitossi. Many less-than-honest sellers on eBay and elsewhere are trying to capitalize on the cache held by the Raymor name, and thus are marking every unknown piece of MCM Italian art pottery as being “Raymor.” This is a completely false practice, and only serves to disinform the casual collector. The only way we can say if an object is truly “Raymor” these days is if the item is marked with the Raymor name in the embossed or printed mark, or if it still retains its original Raymor product sticker. If a sticker remains on the bottom of your jug, it should be stamped with a product code including the three letter indication “BIT” if it indeed originated from the Bitossi factory.

Your jug certainly looks like other pieces Bitossi produced under the art direction of Aldo Londi, and it may or may not from the Rimini Blu line. I’m by no means an expert, though, and this is simply my opinion.

Bitossi marks?

Where to buy reproductions?

  • By my count, Bitossi Ceramiche continues to make 105 different pieces of Rimini Blu today. It is sold at a variety of retailers, including online, but they do not each carry all pieces. So, I recommend: First take a look at the complete Rimini Blu product line on Bitossi’s website. Once you identify the piece or pieces that you are interested in, enter them as search terms into google.

Wanna get all art-smart about Dolci’s Blue Madonna?

Watch this video:

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Comments

  1. Rebecca says

    This blue is the perfect complement to the orange tones in knotty pine. Blue sofa is on my shopping list for that reason.

  2. Wendy M. says

    I absolutely love this color! My dream is to own the long-legged bird (seen in the back of the group picture) but I don’t want to get it while my kids are young and throwing things around the house. 🙂 Wonderful choice for color of the year!

  3. Becky from Iowa says

    Heck, we just painted our front door AND all our shutters this color! The neighbors look askance, but I don’t care. 🙂

  4. Ann-Marie Meyers says

    I can use this color in both my houses. Then when I decide which house I am going to really keep, I don’t have to make a big change! And I do love orange and blue.

  5. Chutti says

    I love, love this color-Rimini Blu. I have many items in this color that were left to me by my Italian grandmother. Not least of the blue is her extensive collection of Blue Willow dating back from the 1890’s up to the 1940’s. I’ve had crisp clear blue in my kitchens for so long I am challenged to move away from it a bit. One other great thing about this blue and complementary colors-it is great for dishes, as it often complements and highlights food nicely. Think-how often do we eat something blue? How often something red or orange or warm brown?
    Yep, always set things off nicely., and she knew this.

    Another note on the Dolci painting and the color blue connected with the blessed virgin….It’s well documented that there is a hierarchy of colors associated with traditional christian iconography. Many know that purple was a sign of royalty due to the expense of the cochineal derived from snail shells. The next most expensive pigments were red and a strong bright blue. Hence the association of red with Christ and blue with Mary. I have a painter friend who refers to this shade of blue as “BVM Blue”.

    It’s such a lively color, and yes-classic too. Thanks for pointing it out.
    Looks fabulous with the orange!

    • pam kueber says

      I am not a student of traditional Christian iconography so I really appreciate the lesson — thanks, Chutti!

  6. says

    I am with you on the blue. My only beef with your choice is that I thought I was being so original in deciding the past few months that I wanted to bring blue into our main living area. Now I’ll just look trendy 🙂

    We’ve got a lot of orange/red/yellow, and I think I’ve just been wanting something to cool down all that warmth. And I thought blue would function a bit like the greens that were so popular in the 70s (the era of our home), but keep our colors (and house) from looking like a cliche/movie set.

    And I hope never to see the word “greige” again in 2012!

  7. JKaye says

    My everyday dishes are an 80s era spongeware pattern in just this shade of blue on white. Rather out of date, but, I just feel happy using them. Maybe it’s like Chutti says, the blue sets off the warm colors of the food so nicely.

  8. Marion Powell says

    I’ve been looking for a blue for an accent wall in my “library.” Do you have any idea which paint color approximates it?

  9. Jordanna says

    It’s this colour’s year, every year, for my sister! She likes blue in myriad shades but this shade especially. We call it just cobalt though, but this is what we mean by it.

    But me, I can’t figure out how to decorate with it. What colours does it go with? I mean my sister loves blue so much she’s happy just keeping it to a palette of pale blue, dark blue, silver, white. Which can work, in the right ratios.

    But me, I don’t love blue *that* much, and blue and just white seems to be suggesting I live in a Mediterranean beach house, which I don’t. I think it could work with a Suburban Modern-type chartreuse, or am I kidding myself?

  10. says

    Who knew when we put counter tops in our ranch five years ago that we were using the 2012 color of the year? I love, Love, LOVE this blue; it’s classic, lively and works beautifully with so many other colors (my kitchen has warm yellow walls, cork brown floors and cream cabinets.) Long live Bitossi Rimini Blu!

  11. Chutti says

    MMmmm…. blue and chartreuse gets a thumbs up here.
    I think I overdid the blue and yellow 15 years ago, but it was my tiny dark little kitchen in the woods.

    I’m more than a little obsessed with a Mid Century children’s book I read a lot. Anyone else know “We Help Mommy”? I keep recreating rooms from this book -that’s where the classic blue and yellow came from.

    Images are here: https://www.google.com/search?q=we+help+mommy&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=ejn&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=MgfgTsGEPIaQiALaqaT4Dg&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CCIQ_AUoAQ&biw=1011&bih=584

    I am finally getting my dream speckled VCT floor in this house, and I giggle every time I see the new old-style tiny shopping carts with two removable baskets and front loader washing machines. I remember longing for these in that book, and now they are everywhere.

    Long way of saying this blue really, really is timeless and goes with everything. Complementary, for sure.

  12. Bepsf says

    I’ve been collecting Bitossi for over 10 years – I guess it’s time for me to cash in and sell my collection to pay for the next trendy collectible!

    One little known thing about Bitossi is that Rimini Blu is not their only color. I have a bit of orange & brown, an Avocado Green compote, a matte white vase – and even some bright Red pieces including a monumental lamp base (my favorite!)

    It’s been funny sitting back and watching the retailers knock off Bitossi: First it was Jonathan Adler with his Sgraffito line a few years back – Now we see it in WestElm’s catalog this season with their Aquamarine collection…

    One of these days I’d like to go to Montelupo, Italy to see where my collection came from.

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