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The word neon rarely conjures anything terribly sophisticated. It might recall 1980s spandex – something that is hard to surpass in gaudiness, even when wrapped around hard bodies like Jane Fonda. Or it might bring to mind Las Vegas. The city is awash in so much hot pink, green and orange light that there is actually a museum dedicated solely to discarded neon signage (described by The New York Times as the place “where Las Vegas stardust rests in peace”).
It’s understandable, then, why so few people aspire to deck out their living rooms in the radiant colour spectrum. That is, until recently, when the eye-popping hues started showing up at furniture fairs and in the pages of glossy decor magazines. For the daring, when applied with just the right amount of restraint, neon comes off as classy, not crass.
It’s actually not that hard to believe. The aforementioned aerobics outfits are one thing. But for every historic example that’s totally tacky, there’s another where neon looks completely stunning (take, for instance, the pop-minimalist art works of Dan Flavin and Bruce Nauman, where neon is mesmerizing, not nauseating).
For the home, neon achieves the right balance of elegant and electric when added in micro bursts, such as to the edge of a pillow, napkin or serving tray. Or even in bigger doses, as a stand-alone focal point, such as with a vibrantly hued side chair in an all-white or grey room. Basically, as long as it doesn’t bring to mind reruns of Saved by the Bell, it works.
Here, six ways to add it to your home.