Monday, December 19, 2011

Clash your colors this Christmas!

Apartment Therapy

Since we will be off for the next two weeks we thought we should leave you with our perspective on color ideas for Christmas. Hey, everyone else is writing about it and we wanted to get in on the fun too. We here at Colour Studio, being highly cross disciplinary and studious about our color choices, will of course be recommending that you stick with red and green schemes this year. Elegance and complimentary color science above all. It's all very serious around here. Just kidding. While we are all for elegance, it can get a bit staid. Why not stray from the usual and expand your palette this year? 

Now we are sure that most of you have boxes of family ornaments stashed away safely in the basement or garage. Those little treasures are wonderful and bring back cherished memories every year. But maybe with those traditions throw in a color twist. Try painting some new bulbs in bright eye catching colors or head down to the dollar store and grab a box of recyclable plastic bulbs, throw in some glitter, and get your chromatic confidence going! These bright  Christmas trees from Apartment Therapy have such energy! 

If you need more inspiration try heading over to Apartment Therapy and Re-Nest. We love them! Their sites are full of great colors. There are lots of options for some DIY color splashes: DIY Decorations from Re-nest or contemporary colored ornaments from Indie Pretty Projects.

- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ode to the Crayon

Inspired by our Project Manager Naomi and her "Color Outside the Lines" notebook we thought we could regress a bit this week and take a little trip down color memory lane. Many of us had our first introduction to color with crayons. 

We all loved to draw as kids, with a lack of talent but lots of enthusiasm. Crayons were one of the first introductions to pure color for many people. Before we had Photoshop to deliver almost any color with the click of the mouse, those little wax treasures brought the blue of the sky or the green of an tree down to kid size, literally made color tangible, usable and understandable. They even had that distinct caryon-y smell, ah the sense memories. 

So this week we are looking at coloring and crayons with grown up eyes. But we weren't the only ones to mature over the years, crayons have grown up too.

In 2010 Diem Chau, of The Pleasure of Tiny Things blog, was commissioned to carve 66 of these beautiful crayon soccer players for Nike in honor of the World Cup. They were put in eleven special VIP boxes designed by Wieden and Kennedy

Sculptor Peter Goldlust has also been taking a new look at the crayon with these beautifully carved geometric crayon pieces.  

Artist Christian Faur uses thousands of crayons to create an "pixalized" images, one point of color at a time. This work brings the crayon to digital image manipulation transition that comes with age in to sharp relief. 

But what rediscovery of crayons would be complete without a look at our long lost favorite colors of childhood. And what do you know, the folks over at wikipedia were helpful enough to provide hex numbers for all the Crayola crayons of our youth. Their list is wonderful, we never realized how many specialty crayons were out there. Along with the standard colors we can also choose from the silver swirls, gem tones, pearl brights, or metallic FX collections. Adult eyes also reveal details children rarely notice. For example one color name carries with it the history of racism and political correctness in America; "Chestnut" was originally called "Indian Red" until 1999. 

So now that we have scoured though all those crayon colors we threw together a few palettes. If you need a bit of whimsy and wax smell for your next project consider some crayon inspiration. There are some great projects out there if you need help getting started recycled crayons, window decorations, or wreathes and frames.

- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lime Green

Sorry for the hiatus, thanksgiving got the better of us and we have been busy busy busy. So to make it up to you a post all about lime green. Our associate designer, Emily, is currently on the hunt for a new home in San Francisco and during one of her many open house Sunday's she walked by this beautiful entryway. After seeing one boring color scheme after another it was definitely a welcome surprise. We are avid fan of lime greens, especially for architectural and interior design applications. We did a lime green entry way ourselves not to long ago.

Such inspiration sent us on a mission to find the perfect lime green palette for Emily's future home.

Lime green, chartreuse, yellow green, electric green, margarita, green apple. There are a wealth of of hues to pick from in this range. Its a bold choice, and certainly not for everyone, but for you color adventurers out there it could that extra zing you need.

Most of the interiors we have found match lime green up with neutrals like calm modern gray, clean white, and even straight laced black so as not to overwhelm the eye.
Notice that even the barest hint of lime accentuates the green of the exterior plants and makes the space expand to visually include the outdoors. 

While floor to ceiling lime green walls may be to much for an entire room, it can give energy and motion to an tight or neglected stairway. Stairways are a liminal space between floors and not generally given much consideration but here lime green gives a stairway a fresh personality all its own. 

The next two interior designs use lighter versions of the lime green as a base and add just a few splashes of its brighter sibling. Its visually links the two colors without putting lime green everywhere.

Just varying the brightness value can break up overwhelming colors. 

Lime green is young, playful and refreshing and according to a few color phycology sites lime green helps clear bad thoughts from the mind and promotes motivation. We are in need of all of those things. So here is our palette for lime green, we hope to use again in the near future. 

- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio

Monday, November 14, 2011

Its Always Hot in the Performing Arts

Opera houses, concert halls, and theaters are architectural monuments to a rich culture of performance arts. Traditionally performance environments have been done in warm palettes: red specifically but with lots of gold, orange and warm woods and stone. Its a color scheme usually called "Red Plush." For example, below is the newly reopened Bolshoi Theatre in Russia.
"Bolshoi" means "grand" in Russian, and the new theater fills the bill. Tapestries have been rewoven, crystal pendants in the main two-ton chandelier have been restored or replaced, and the balconies have been covered with gold leaf. Over 150 goldsmiths worked with the nearly 11 pounds of gold leaf used for the interior. From a box on the side of the stalls, security guards watched a rehearsal of "Ruslan and Ludmila." Here for more

Eastman Theater in Rochester,  New York is also a classic example of the red plush grande drape and seating upholstery
The meme has spread all over the world. Above is Chinas National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. It is truly epic inside. Our Associate Designer, Emily,  can tell you from personal experience, when you stand on that stage the audience is an expansive sea of lush red seats. It goes back and back and back for what seems like forever. The Opera house alone seats 2,416. 

Though we have found very little direct evidence about why red plush came to be the dominate scheme or why it continues to be,  there are a myriad of different opinions out there.  The psychological profile of red associates the color with power, anger, blood, all things dramatic and dynamic.  Red dyes were particularly difficult to produce during theater's renaissance revival.  The dyes were very expensive and were perceived as opulent, extravagant, special.  Those lucky enough to afford tickets to attend  theater  expect the experience to be stimulating and engaging which fits with red's personality.    For the more scientifically minded of you there is the theory about the shorter wavelength of red allowing the eye to easily adjust to a darkened environment. For more theories see this.
The Sydney Opera House
But as we were looking around for images of theater interiors we came across an outlier or two. Above the Indiana University Musical arts center trades in the red grande drape for a perhaps even more opulent royal purple. 

This one is cheating a bit, we admit it, but this emerald green drape from Wicked would be lush and vibrant as a grand drape. However the color message would be entirely different.  Mystery awaits in the forest. What colors would you like to see on your next trip to the Opera or Ballet?

- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The effects of Aging on Color Vision

It is common knowledge that vision problems crop up as we age. The Mayo Clinic’s website mentions the four most well known: Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, and Floaters[1]. It is less well known that our ability to see color also decreases as we age. This knowledge comes in handy on one of our current projects: the Mary Helen Rogers Senior Community. The community, which is currently being built in San Francisco near Civic Center, is named for the well-loved local Mary Helen Rogers who was called the "true matriarch of community activism in San Francisco," by former Mayor Gavin Newsom. She was a founding member of the Western Addition Community Organization, a group that forced the city to support its lower income residents displaced by racism and urban renewal.  In the spirit of her generosity we also wanted to do our best to support the future community there with our own work, and with an aging community come aging eyes. 

How do you go about designing a color environment for people who see very differently from you? The first step, as always, is research. “Cells in the retina that are responsible for normal color vision decline in sensitivity as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. In particular, blue colors may appear faded or "washed out." [2] To counteract this degradation environments for seniors should be outfitted with higher contrast surfaces, such as increasing the contrast between a floor and countertop.

Also, the “muscles that control our pupil size and reaction to light lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting. Because of these changes, people in their 60s need three times more ambient light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s.”[3] This greater need for light in the eye can also be addressed in the environment with brighter colors, which bounce more wavelengths of light back to the eye than duller colors. As seen in the graphic below, low saturation colors quickly turn toward black and white as vision ages while high saturation colors maintain a high degree of visual vibrancy.  

A recent study in The Journal of Gerontology on color vision in the aging eye returned informative results on the particular qualities of color that are more difficult for seniors to see. The study measured the “losses of color vision in the dimensions of hue, saturation, and brightness”[4] The study demonstrated a “loss of discrimination of saturation beginning at age 50, with rapid change noted after age 60. Similar findings were seen for hue but were not evident for brightness.” The participating scientists concluded with the hope that this “information will provide a basis for planning safer, more functional environments for elderly people.”

We selected a color palette for the interior to aid in way finding in this 8 story building.  Here are some of our selections.

- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio

[1] Mayo Clinic,
[2] All about vision,
[3] All about vision
[4] The Journal of Gerontology,

Friday, November 4, 2011

In Full Colour: Recent Buildings and Interiors

We like to keep an eye out for new color publications.  We used  In Full Colour: Recent Building and Interiors from Braun for inspiration selecting colors for a new Seniors Housing Project in San Francisco. The Europeans have a history of respecting the use of color in architecture.  Whether color is selected in the context of regional palettes based on soils and vegetation or inspired by the availability of new materials and technologies in the architectural marketplace, they do not  fear color.  To  give you an visual nibble here is a  Bonus Post of the week!

A vet clinic with a splash of color at the University of Berne, Switzerland. These brightly colored inner courtyards bounce light in to the surrounding rooms, giving them different glows is the days light changes. P. 208

This office park in the Netherlands "is constructed of glass panels in which a multicolored foil is integrated. Depending on the time of day and the angle of incidence, the facade changes from yellow to blue, to red or from purple to green and back again." P. 200

Green can be a hard color to master. And if I may be so bold as to invent a word; green can get 'hospitally' on you if you aren't careful. But I would say this is application is pleasingly watermelon like in nature. It is a mix of "Fire brigade red [and] police green" for a joint space in Berlin. P. 128
Youthful yellow Youth Hostel. "Within the cityscape [of Bremen, Germany], the building always shines in the distance like a powerful vivid signal." P. 58
Rainbow colored has a bad rep but is used perfectly for this mixed use building. Leon, Spain. P. 124 

When I think of the Netherlands this red is not the first hue to come to mind. But Agora theatre is beautiful and "determinedly upbeat place." Meant to revitalize the pragmatic, sober town centre" of Lelystad.  P.70
 This next one is a mixed commercial residential space in Tubingen, Germany. P.66
This new development in a heavy industry zone in Lingang, China is all about the colors of the sky. "Large-format colored surface produce a a sense of depth, distance, proximity as well as strong structural contrasts."  P. 112
- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio

Monday, October 31, 2011

Accent colors for the sky

When it comes to color, and most air-travel related things, Virgin is in a class all its own. When they first launched the Virgin America brand they came armed with seat-back entertainment including video games and seat-to-seat chat, onboard wifi, and my personal favorite, purple mood lighting. Can you see your self getting plane rage while surrounded by the spiritual hue of purple? 

Recently they seem to be stepping up their game. I came across this project by Access Agency/The Cool Hunters. They promote their services as a transformational creative agency. From their description for the  project:

 "It takes more than a few subtle changes to draw attention at international airports. As a brand that is fun, social, playful, and understands design, Virgin can take plane transformations further than most. We’ve created new bold designs for Virgin Atlantic planes to really get people’s attention. Imagine when suddenly overnight a limited number of planes will look completely different. Unlike any planes ever.

If you were sitting at Heathrow and saw one of these rolling by, you’d take a picture and post it for all of your connections to see. This is the “look at me” kind of cool and bold design in unexpected surroundings that people love to see and talk about. Have you spotted one of these? Did you fly in one? The design would stay on the planes only a limited time and then a new design would show up on other routes. This is the ideal set-up for a viral phenomenon."


So just for fun we thought we would try our hand at planes. Our picks for spicing up that beautiful blue sky?

- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pretty in Porange

Rihanna rockin it
Once upon a time, just recently actually, two colors formed a new team in the fashion world. Purple, our wise and royal hue, married warm and energetic orange to form Porange. The couple is now aspiring to the heights of other hybrid name duos Brangalina or Bennifer.

Hot color combo via Glamor
While slow moving in the beginning the trend seems now to be inescapable and will presumably infect all susceptible members of the population by late this year. 

But wait. As with all things in fashion, Porange is cyclical. This whole trend could just be be a Princess Diana revival movement. And why not? We could always use a little more of her grace and generosity. 
Princess Diana back in 1992
Or maybe its all an ingenious viral marketing ploy by Raw Color.  
A raw color hybrid hue
Why so popular?

We often think of complementary colors as those straight across (180 degrees) from each other on the color wheel. Purple and orange are what is referred to in color theory as compound colors, they are about 120 degrees (or 1/3rd of the way) away from each other on the color wheel. Different angle, same great synergy.

We here at Colour Studio would like to do our part to spread the Porange meme so here is this weeks color scheme: 

- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio