Thursday, May 24, 2012

The color of urban renewal

Sometimes grey just doesn't cut it. Or beige for that matter. Sometimes when a neighborhood needs an uplift, boldness is required, and color can be that integral component that awakens a place and makes people see it with new eyes.

Haas&Hahn, the working title of artistic duo Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, have been painting the favelas of Brazil since 2006. This piece, their second large painting in Vila Cruzeiro, was finished in 2008. Their site describes a bit about the process: "It was situated on a massive concrete structure, built to protect the hill from mudslides during the rainy season. It was painted together with local youth, who learned a craft, while earning money at the same time. The traditional Japanese design was made by master tattooist Rob Admiraal."

More recently the pair completed work on the community of Santa Marta. Santa Marta is a favela right in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. The homes and school  that were chosen for the project site  are located right at the entrance to the neighborhood, making for a striking first impression. 
 Before the project, the homes were a ramschakle of angles and patches of colors.  Haas&Hahn used a "flexible concept of colourful rays" to create visual cohesion among the houses using a pattern of rays "which can easily be expanded [to neighboring buildings]." The design included the houses around the square, part of the street, and the local Samba school.

But if Rio de Janeiro is a bit too far to go for your colorful urban renewal, Haas&Hahn have a new project right here in the states. "Philly Painting is a neighborhood beautification project of unprecedented scale, set in North Philadelphia, around the Germantown and Lehigh Avenues. The goal is to mobilize the community to completely transform the commercial corridor and bring a new look to their neighborhood: A social and artistic experiment of urban acupuncture, beautification, and economic stimulus of unprecedented scale." 

While the project has only just started, we think it has great potential to change how people see not only Germantown but urban renewal as a whole in the United States.

We are excited to check back with this project periodically to watch the progress!

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

Friday, May 18, 2012

The 75th Anniversary of "Golden" Gate Bridge

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge painted in  its custom vermillion color dubbed international orange. According to Wikipedia the iconic orange "is a color used in the aerospace industry to set things apart from their surroundings, similar to safety orange."  This is precisely why the color was chosen.   When the pieces of the bridge arrived for construction they were already painted in the orange primer. Originally the Navy pushed to paint the bridge in yellow and black stripes for better visibility. But can you imagine the bridge looking like a giant bumblebee? In honor of our colorful local icon we wanted to share some of our favorite images of the Golden Gate Bridge this week.
Chris Saulit on Flickr took this long exposure beauty with the Marin Headlands a soft green behind the glowing orange of the bridge.
This image illustrates one of the primary reasons the bridge was painted international orange. As the official Golden Gate Bridge site tells us: The "Consulting Architect Irving Morrow selected the distinctive orange color because it blends well with the span's natural setting as it is a warm color consistent with the warm colors of the land masses in the setting as distinct from the cool colors of the sky and sea. It also provides enhanced visibility for passing ships."

 This shot was taken this April by Phil McGrew during one of San Francisco's few and far between thunderstorms via Daily Mail
The Golden Gate Bridge Research Library site reveals a bit of the history of the color decision. "In his April 1935 Report on Color and Lighting, Morrow defined the approach to the color section, “Preliminary to discussion of particular colors, a decision must be made on a matter of policy – is it desired to emphasize the bridge as an important feature of the landscape, or to make it as inconspicuous as possible.”" The bridge would hardly have become the tourist sensation is it today if they had gone with inconspicuous gray. Look to the Bay Bridge, a far larger and perhaps more impressive engineering feat, it draws little attention in slate utilitarian grey.

"Italian American sculptor Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano submitted his comments to Morrow, “ I have been watching very closely the progress of the towers on the Golden Gate Bridge in its structural beauty its engineering and architectural simplicity – and of course its color that moves and molds itself into the great beauty and contours of the hill – let me hope that the color will remain the red terracotta because it adds to the structural grace and because it adds to the great beauty and the colorful symphony of the hills—and it is because of this structural simplicity that carries to you my message of admiration.”" Indeed.

Nathan Jones on Flickr took this beautiful shot that catches the bridge peaking through a thick fog bank.
If your love of the bridge has you inspired to paint a wall or even your whole house to match the  iconic color,  Sherwin Williams can help. Online we found the formula for the Bridge’s unique International Orange color. Paint stores can mix it with the following information: CMYK colors are: Cyan: 0%, Magenta: 69%, Yellow: 100%,  Black: 6%." Currently the bridge is painted using a Sherwin Williams custom matching formula but for the closest off-the-shelf color they claim "Fireweed" is the best.

So here's to 75 years of a color icon. May it have many more to come.

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pantone reveals 336 new colors!

Via Design Taxi
Just when you thought that there were no new colors in the world, Pantone releases 336 new colors! This new set is mostly pure pastels and modest mid-tones, but they are all now permanent members of the Pantone Plus Series which now comes to 1,667 colors.

For many readers Pantone's brand name will be very familiar, but you may not know why there are so popular with designers. Pantone developed a color matching system that allows for color consistency across platforms, with the goal of maintaining color from screen to print and back. It allows designers to gain control across projects and ink manufacturers and printers to reproduce that same color over and over without variations. Industry wide standardization is key to that consistency.

 Also Pantone allows for a wider color selection. Some of Pantone's colors can be reproduced with CMKY printing, these are called process colors. But many of these specialty colors must be printed using a special 15 ink process, these are called spot colors. These spot colors greatly increase the choices designers have about how their work will be printed. Pantone even allows for the use of metallic and florescent inks!

Pantone Metallic Chips

We do not  rely upon  the Pantone system for our architectural projects, but one can not deny their influence in the marketplace.   New colors give us new inspirations!

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

Whats in a red?

When color makes the news we get excited and last week we heard about the battle over Starbucks choice of food colorant.  But what is all the fuss? Isn't red just red?
The Starbucks smoothie in question
As reported by NPR "Vegetarians and others who'd rather not eat insects protested when they found out the company colors certain food and drinks with cochineal, the red "juice" a tiny white bug called Dactylopius coccus exudes when crushed." Due to the protests of this community,  Starbucks says the drink will be bug-free. 

Cliff Burrows, President of Starbucks, wrote on Starbucks blog.
"Our expectation is to be fully transitioned to lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract, which is used in our Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino® blended beverage and our Strawberry Banana Smoothie. This transition will occur over time as we finalize revisions and manage production. Our intention is to be fully transitioned from existing product inventories to revised food and beverage offerings near the end of June across the U.S."

Lycopene: Starbucks new red via Wikimedia
But what is cochineal exactly? After all, even though some find the idea of eatting bugs unappetizing, cochineal extract is FDA approved and considered an all natural alternative to petroleum based Allura or #40 red food dye. 

The western aversion to eating bugs is far more recent historically that the use of these insects as a dye product. Cochineal live on cactus primarily in Central America. They have been used as clothing dyes for century's. Below we see an illustration of an "Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail" by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1777).

Cochineal Farming Illustration via Wikimedia

 Wikipedia describes a bit of the history here:
"Cochineal dye was used by the Aztec and Maya peoples of Central and North America. Eleven cities conquered by Moctezuma in the 15th century paid a yearly tribute of 2000 decorated cotton blankets and 40 bags of cochineal dye each.  During the colonial period the production of cochineal (grana fina) grew rapidly. Produced almost exclusively in Oaxaca by indigenous producers, cochineal became Mexico's second most valued export after silver."
Hand grinding Cochinal dye powder via The Dirt Doctor

What do you think? Should these bright red bugs be left to dying clothing and cosmetics or are you willing to eat a bug or two for a richly red visual experience?

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio