Sunday, March 23, 2014

Colors are Heating up with Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang, Via Vogue
Last week we introduced you to a designer, Le Mindu, who is using some really unique colors to shake up the runway but Le Mindu isn't the only one pushing the edges of fashions with usual materials. Alexander Wang recently set his models down the cat walk in heat reactive clothing's that changed hue as the temperatures of models body and the air surrounding them rose and fell. The cool faces and stern walks of cat walk models we see in all those runway pictures belie the hot lights, tight quarters, and frantic behind the scenes efforts that keep a fashion show running smoothly. His pieces, many with intricately cut textural patterns, glow with shifting color, reveal more about the environment of the catwalk show than the simple veneer of theatrics. 

Wang's recent show, which was themed around the idea of “extreme conditions and survival," used the high tech fabrics as well as reference to outdoor wear with a mix of urban utilitarianism. But the colors themselves also have a utilitarian aspect to them. Much like the color change of poisonous animals in the wild, Wangs color could be seen as broadcasting information about the wearer to onlookers. In an age full of over sharing and selfies and a general sense  of always being in the public eye the colors embrace the visibility in a whole new way. 

Because Thermochromic clothing is not just peaking its head out on the runway anymore. Sports clothing is also embracing these heat changing colors to give athletes a whole new visual experience of their workouts. Radiate Athletics has created an application which lets the wearer watch the colors of their shirt change as they work out. Starting with a white shirt, heat sensitive colors intensify with peak muscle performance. So you get instant feedback as to just how hard your body is working. The shirts even show you where and which muscles are you working with each exercise! 

Images from Radiate's KickStarter Page
These clothes, on the runway or just on a run, allow us to speak about our world and our bodies using color. They reveal things to ourselves and others that would otherwise have been invisible.  Color can be powerful. Would you be comfortable displaying this kind of information to everyone you passed?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Haute Couture Color

Photos Credits Valério Mezzanotti
Originally a hair stylist,  Charlie Le Mindu, has forged a career in fashion out of ever shocking, weird, and over the top design.  The 26-year-old,  Bordeaux-born, London-based designer pairs unusual materials, flamboyant colors, and prolific wigs with a studied knowledge and faith based in the lessons of fashion past.  He says "In this day and age, maybe because of grunge and all that, people think it's sexy to look like a mess. And it is. But sometimes we need to look to the past. Not copy it, but just take it as an example."

Photos Credits Valério Mezzanotti
In collaboration with latex design house Très Bonjour,  Le Mindu splashed onto a black lit runway at this years Paris Fashion Week. His Spring/Summer 2014 collection was titled Luminescent. Using synthetic hair that glows florescent under black light his show lit up the runway with a rave of colors rarely seen in every day life. The collection is something of mermaid punk mash up with jellyfish-like tentacles and gravity defying shapes  that float down the run way. 

Le Mindu grew up the child of a Spanish Gypsy and a French Drag King in the wilds backstage as his mother performed at gay night clubs in France. After an introduction to hair dressing in the French country side,  Le Mindu moved to Berlin at  age 17 where he was soon cutting hair in a different Drag club every night and developing his signature wigs.  From there he moved to East London and continued to style hair while developing his own cheveux-centric fashion line in 2009. 

His catwalk shows, far from being presentational, liberate fashions inner monsters and lets them prowl down the run way in livid abandon. Haute Couture, much like Fine Art, is often criticized or glanced over by others for being useless, self indulgent, or posh. But even if they are all those things they are also inspiring, exploratory and experimental. His color choices are too extreme for many, and few but Lady Gaga would wear his work out on the street, but just because his work is wild and pleasantly deviant doesn't mean all the lessons learned from pieces need be applied whole hock.   The experimentation,  especially to these extremes, can help us find solutions to design problems faced in other fields

Exposure to design outside our comfortable zone of useful and everyday also exposes us to materials and colors we might not have considered before. The colors are both highly visible and full of energy. So what application can you think up for one of these unusual materials in other areas? How could these colors influence one of your projects? Lets us know below!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Neutrals and Textures win at the Oscars

43 million people watched the Oscars this year! That is more than have tuned in for 10 years. So since we all know who won what and even who wore who. We wanted to talk the big color trend on the red carpet this year. Textured neutrals definitely won the day with a disproportionately high number of dresses on the carpet this year fitting that category. Here are our favorites.

Lupita Nyong'o wore this cool blue white Prada beauty which manages to look both delicate and substantial. Its a great color to remember for the future when you need something fresh and just a tease away from white. It makes a great contrast to Lady Gaga's more structured lavender creme Versace.

White came in every hue and pattern at this Oscars, in fact it read like a texture encyclopedia. Portia de Rossi, whose wife Ellen Degeneres hosted the event, wore a lacy Naeem Khan in stark white which  paired well with her fair complexion; Naomi Watts in Calvin Klein's roughen white, Kate Hudson's Atelier Versace was smooth and shimmering, Kristen Bell choose a not quite ruffeled but ribboned Cavalli, Jessica Biel wore a glittering slivered Chanel, and Jenna Dewan Tatum's Reem Acra dress took care of feathered and beaded. Just look at all of those ways to use white!

But not all was just white out on display warm cremes and cool greys also graced the scene. Cate Blanchett's tufted Armani Prive was highlighted with petaly white; Angelina Jolie wore a opalescent grey and expertly draped Elie Saab; Sarah Paulson's Elie Saab was made of unicromatic buttery lace, and Jennifer Garner's tiered Oscar de la Renta showed off light grey is all its clean simplicity.

All images via Reuters
And while everyone else was chasing glory in white or light pastel neutrals  Gravity star Sandra Bullock turned up in  this royal blue Alexander McQueen, a color befitting her stature that night. Tell us your favorite color from the carpet!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Great Apps for Mobile Color Lovers

Apps, apps, apps! We are surrounded by them. They fill up our phones and tablets and there are more of them everyday. But instead of getting overwhelmed by the abundance we have decided to dive in. Here are our 5 favorite color apps for mobiles platforms and why we love them. Come take a dip with us!

Color Touch Effects

Color Touch Effects lets users recolor images right in their Android phones. Many mobile photo apps let you filter whole images to make them sepia, black and white, or saturated with various film effects but this app lets you paint with saturation and vibrancy. Drop all the color out of an image then use the tools to paint back in a set of pale blue eyes or sepia a figure standing in rich real world color. This app works the best on a larger screened Android like the Galaxy Note 5 which gives you room to really get the most out of the apps detailed features. 

Color Splash

If you are more of an iPhone person and want that same black and white with a splash of color feel on your mobile then Color Splash is for you. Color Splash is a great tool for any beginning photographer or graphic designer who has little experience with Photoshop or other design or editing software. Before you jump in to the deep end with what can be an overwhelming array of options offered by those high end programs,  Color Splash will allow you to get your color design feet wet. Learn about drawing focus,  importance of contrast, and color matching with this simplified tool first. It can be great for kids who can't afford expensive software on their own but still want to explore the basics of image design.


PicsArt is a great mobile photo editor available from Google Play. Not only does this little app let you spruce up your photos like Instagram but applies photoshop like artistic changes.  It offers stenciler, cartoonizer, sketcher which gives images texture and adventurous color. It combines the functionalities of photo collage, FX, and on screen painting to give you complete control over your images. You can even take a picture and preview live photo effects to enhance your phones standard camera. 

ArtStudio for iPad

If you have an iPad, with their comparatively massive screen real estate, and are looking for an app which will really take your mobile color experience to the max, check out ArtStudio. Like the previous app this one lets you do some basic photo editing but it's the paint options where this app shines. Use their built in color picker on any image to build up your library of colors and even paint directly over photographs to use them as guides. Unlike many paint apps for mobile, ArtStudio for iPad is built for detailed, color rich, and highly textured paintings and drawings.  The app takes you from beginning strokes to finishing touches and no other software  is required. 

Brushes 3

Another painting app we love is Brushes 3. Along with a bevy of painting, coloring, and texturing features this app lets you seamlessly move your creations from device to device without losing any work. This app is such a great tool in fact David Hockney used it to create some of the work exhibited at the de Young Museum here in San Francisco at his recent solo show titled 'A Bigger Exhibition.' Try it out. Use what the pros love!

We know you are all savvy color fans so you tell us... what apps do you love!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Color for Cyborgs

North Broad Street by Justin Wolfe
We use color in a thousand unconscious ways every day. While standing on a train platform on your way to work: "Please stand behind the yellow safety corridor." While shopping: "All blue tags are 50% off. Today only." While browsing online: "Click the red button to subscribe." While driving: "The light is green." We understand color in our environment almost without thinking, but what if you saw the world in shades of grey? Every color reduced to a monochromatic gradient. You would see only in texture and never in the rich high definition that color gives the world. But it wouldn't be just an aesthetic problem. Our urban worlds are designed with color as an organizing principle for everything from safety and navigability to brand identification and work flows.

That was the problem for the British born artist Neil Harbisson. Raised in Catalan Harbisson has a condition called a chromatopsia.  It is a genetic problem that causes the brain to be unable to perceive color at all (not to be confused with monochromacy in which patients can perceive colors but cannot distinguish between them). The persons brain instead sees the world like a black and white movie, and much like long exposure time on a camera can let in too much light and ruin the image, the brighter the light surrounding the person the whiter and blurrier the world would become.

Harbisson speaking at TED
In an effort to get around his condition Harbisson, in collaboration with computer scientist Adam Montandon, became a cyborg.  The team created a color sensor that Harbisson wore hovering over his forehead like a computerized antennae. The sensor then sends a signal to a chip on the back of his neck and then using bone resonance sends a different frequency to his ears for every color the sensor sees. This whole unit became know as the Eyeborg.

TED Idea Visualization on the Eyeborg
The process was slow at first requiring him to memorize the individual notes for each color, but over time hearing color become second nature and he even began to dream in color, his brain adding the electronic notes to his dreams when the software and sensor were not even connected. The device became more that just assistive technology but an extension of Neil Harbisson's brain. He became a true cyborg. He now hears the music of color everywhere, supermarkets, art galleries, and even on his plate. He no longer just eats grey food but instead get to compose songs as he eats. He even dresses in cords. If you want to hear Harbisson talk more about his experience as a cyborg listen to his TED talk. 

Not many people have had the sensory expanding experience of hearing their colors yet but if you became a cyborg tomorrow what sense would you want to augment? Tasting music? Feeling textures for temperature? Hearing color? Tell us below!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Feedful of Color (on Instagram!)

Instagram is overflowing with beautiful, thoughtful images from thousand of feeds, but with so many choices its often hard to know who to follow. So to help our readers amp up the color in their Instagram streams here are 5 fantastic photographers with a eye for color.
@larkvain has a thing for red and his images explore lots of direct contexts for the color. The appetite stimulant, the passion, the anger, the excitement, even its uses in Chinese symbolism. The fact that his images are only taken with his iPhone seems to make this feat of color investigation all the more impressive.
@yellowillow has a predilection for just that: yellow. But not just plain everyday banana yellow, but yellow found in delicate, wistful, or precarious places. Yellow that may only last another hour until the light fades and the angle of the sun will never be quite right again. There is the yellow of street lines of course, but @yellowillow captures it wet and just waking from its freezing soundings. Or the yellow of a fading fern who has spend to many hours in the sun with too little water. If you look carefully this feed will make you rethink the color and its context.
@vintagedaughter takes what many consider to be the annoying over-share of incessent food photography and makes it into something special. Along with touching captions about these meals for one @vintagedaughter packs a lot of color into these little snapshots. The light blue hue of the table casts a luminous sky blue glow over the dishes and the rich browns, greens and reds of her food settle the eye. The images are soothing and welcoming, using color to remind us to treat ourselves to food, even when we are eating alone.
@nikosono is a French-Australian photographer whose taste for color and playful experimentation with texture really make this feed stand out. For many of the pictures @nikosono take to the sky to capture stunning, and often surprising earth tones of Australia.
@whitestwalker's images span the rainbow but many of the photographers best images walk the thin barrier between blue and green. Finding these colors out in the world is one thing, but the framing and the juxtaposition of these pictures give weight to that green-blue "space."

Tell us who your favorite Instagrammers are below and show us your most colorful post!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Black Sails: A Lesson in Color

We don't often cover television shows here at Colour Studio. With a name like Black Sails is hard for a color blog to resist! Executive produced by Michael Bay, Black Sails is a new show from Starz that on first look  might just seem like yet another pirate drama, but the show was based on Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel Treasure Island and stands to put a bit of dirt and underworld grime back into the recently romanticized pirate ethos. But why are we so interested? Black Sails has a color lesson to teach about the power of neutrals.

You can learn a lot just by watching the trailer.  The show, which is a gritty portrayal of the pirate life, doesn't resort to the dreary grays and desaturated tones of games likes Fallout 3. Black Sails manages to feel gritty and violent and exhausted without being bleak. The colors of the show are rich and tonal and most importantly neutral, or at least neutral with a warm bent. The show's color palette is heavy in black of course, but not a pure inky black, a dusty incomplete color that lingers at the edges of fabric and frame alike. The colors suggest not just an unkempt underworld but a place where characters breathe lungfuls of hot, moist, particulate laden air.

All images property of Starz 
The show is a great example of how the emotional magnitude of colors is played not by the individual colors themselves but how and in what groupings they appear. The dusty, bleed together quality of the colors create a visual environment that lets a splash of red blood or wide swath of blue water really catch the eye, giving more meaning and highlighting certain scenes. This technique can be used in all kinds of color applications: web site design, products and logos, fashion and of course our specialty, architecture. We would love to hear what shows have inspired you in your hunt for new colors!