Friday, October 26, 2012

Color Coded

A few posts back we talked about color carrying information from planets outside our solar system. The colors were a visual indicator of the chemistry on the planets surface and whether or not life as we know it could exist in that environment. Color is used in a myriad of situations to communicate information.
Hospital way finding example via Design Center

Take the  example of using colored stripes on the floor or wall to lead people through buildings. Many institutions like hospitals, airports and large office environments can get people turned around very easily. Does the upward pointing arrow mean straight  as in forward or back the way you came ? Color is an effective method of solving architectural way finding problems.

Visitors may be illiterate or speak a language not covered by the hospitals signage but they can still follow a colored line. Go to the orange door is an easier mental task than 5th door on your left.  Frequently  the situations that bring you to large unfamiliar  institutional settings is stressful.  This compounds the task of determining if you are  getting  off  the elevator on the right floor or finding the right department.
A fun twist on way finding at Revolution Salon via Inthralled
Before we file this great architectural color application  under function only take a look at this creative salon in Mexico City. Even though the space is small and the doors could easily be numbered, a more  inventive approach was used. Each of the private rooms has its own color theme. Clients commonly request their favorite vibe. The receptionist then instructs the client to follow the corresponding color on the floor. Instead of  the straight  or parallel lines we find in more utilitarian settings, these colors meander. They accentuate the geometric repetition in the architecture of the space. Form and function are fused.

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

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cutting Edge & Bigger than Life

Undersea decals by Inaninstantart
Adding color, texture and imagery helps us personalize our spaces. It can make a standard room feel like our own personalized lair.   It  can make an anonymous space feel comfortable. Composing wall colors is a huge part of that process but  paint isn't our only option. New technology gives us state of the art  options.

The recent proliferation of laser cutters has opened the market for vinyl decals. Designers draw the patterns using vector programs. Then the decals are produced using a laser to cut the patterns out of vinyl sheets.
Tentacle decal by Pillboxdesigns
These colorful accents are a great option for renters or  color commitment-phobes. Because the vinyl sticks to the wall using static electricity instead of adhesive they can be removed without damaging the wall. They are also great because buying them supports small design shops. The vinyl comes in an amazing varity of colors.
Vinyl colors by Pillboxdesigns
Are you a bit more adventurous but the thought of painting your own mural is daunting? You can move up to custom wallpaper murals. While more expensive, a variety of large format printing shops make custom murals to fit your chosen wall. Large format printers are very similar to home printers but they can print up to 100 inches wide and can accommodate special papers like wallpaper.

Wallpaper mural via Epiplo Aris

Wallpaper murals are much harder to install and to remove but they pack a visual wallop. The example above is  'Lady from the Orient ' by Vladimir Tretchikoff.  These beautiful murals  can enhance  neutral minimally  colored  spaces and lend an air of sophistication and scale to living.   They can take "accent wall" to a new level.

In contrast, children's murals, can add color and imagery to spark the imagination.
A half sized wall mural via Eglue
Will you consider using laser cut vinyl decals or wallpaper murals to spice up  your environment ?

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Planetary Color

Color matters in art and design but it also matters in science. Especially to scientists looking for extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, which lie outside of our local solar system. With predictions now topping out between 100 and 400 billion planets in the Milky Way galaxy, and each planet a potential source for extraterrestrial life, scientists are eager to learn more about them. The problem? Well thats two fold. 

First, their distance from Earth is an immense hurtle, the nearest known specimen being 4.37 lights years away. So even with the use of today most advanced telescopes the planets are still tiny specs in the night sky. The second and perhaps more daunting problem is their proximity to the nearby star makes them especially hard to detect. With the star giving off so much light, the reflected light from the planet, and thus our means of detecting it, gets washed out. 

How is this sovled? Well initially scientists could only tell if a star had planets at all by looking at the star itself. They checked for wobbles in the stars rotation, caused by the gravity of orbiting planets pulling the star this way or that. This revealed lots of gas giants similar to Jupiter because they were massive enough to give the star a good yank. That was a good starting point, but astrophysicists are rarely satisfied with first tries, and recently the astronomical tool kit has gotten more advanced. Now astrophysicists are working on direct detection techniques. This is where color comes in. Using a system laughably similar to holding your hand up to shade your eyes, scientists are now learning to block out the stars light to see Earth sized planets, tucked closer to the star in the zone most habitable for life. And once they can image the planet itself with minimized interference from the star, they can take a picture of the exoplanets spectrum, all the light it reflects. But what can the color of a planet tell us? In an article on the NASA Astrophysics Data System one Dr. Traub summarizes why color is important:
The color of an extrasolar planet is an important property because, for the case of direct detection, color is likely to be the first post-detection quantity to be measured... Color carries considerable information on planetary properties.
But what kind of information can color carry? What does the dominate color and the full spectrum of the planet detected tell us? For familiarity, lets think about our two closest planetary neighbors: Venus and Mars.

Mars via Wikipedia
While the surface of Venus is similar to the moon, when viewed from space its obscured by a thick blanket of muddy yellow of clouds. Without the need for chemical tests, the yellow tint reveals an atmosphere saturated with sulfur dioxide. That color chemical signature alone tells all about the conditions of the planet. Acid rains, green house effects, and molten temperatures make Venus fascinating but not likely to harbor life. Mars is a similar story. Its strong rust red color was our first clue that the surface would be saturated with iron oxide. Just like for our nearby neighbors, the colors themselves carry with them the chemical information that help scientists build models of these far away planets. From simple color spectrum data they may be able to determine if the planet has liquid water, breathable air, or the potential for life all from light years away.

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

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Color in the built environment around us sometimes goes unseen   With rich luminescent high definition screens at every turn we can't ignore the visual  impact technological devices  have on our daily lives. Thinking about screen color in our environment sends us straight to a ubiquitous culprit. Swiping on the nearest smart phone causes  fields of green and blue icons to appear. 

What if we thought of these screens as an environment? Not a space for our bodies to hang out but somewhere our eyes and minds spent a lot of time, especially on social network sites. There are 16 million possible colors on the web. And while lots of different colors are used around the web, our social environments, the coffee shops of the internet, seem to be self selecting a cooling cyan. 

This infographic from Infochimps  tells an interesting tale of cyan on Twitter. The length of the dripping colors show hows many twitter profile background pictures primarily use that hue. The graphic shows that over half of the users on this social site chose a cyan themed background. 

But why are we choosing  cyan?  If we research color psychology, turquoise, a cousin of cyan, is   defined as a hue to help with focus and concentration. Cyan can enhance clear thinking  and support one in making  well thought out decisions. Maybe in a sea of constant chatter we are crowd sourcing a color that calms the storm and recharges our waning energy. Color psychology also claims that cyan and turquoise can make people more emotionally aloof. 

Or is Twitter's corporate color the big influence? Could the twitter fail whale  be communicating subliminal messages? 

We hope you will start noticing the palettes in social networking and consider how they influence your psyche.

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

Colored Concrete

"This Hawaiian kitchen with blue floor, designed by Michael K. Smith, is bright and fun."
 via Apartment Therapy via 
When we get to coloring personal spaces,  floors sometimes get ignored.  Typical floor solutions like tile, carpet and hardwood are an investment  to install.  There can be a reluctance to change from a traditional material  to the contemporary look of dyed concrete or opt for a painted floor.  For those people willing to explore finish options, many great color solutions are out here. 

A shining blue floor via Quelle Horreur

The rich navy mottling grounds this room. The space has the visual comfort of an old faded pair of blue jeans. This shot is by  by Petra Bindel from latest issue of Elle Decoration via Solid Frog

This painted not stained version of a concrete floor is by designer  Windsor Smith on the House of Turquoise blog

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Site Specific Color

Gabriel Dawe's Plexus via Colossal

At Colour Studio approximately 45% of our projects are for new construction.   The balance of our  our work is creating color schemes for spaces that have already been built. Our colors become site specific to each individual environment.   Each project is unique and the color has to be tailored to consider the architecture, tasks and functions that will happen in the space,  demographic of the users,  cultural color affinities and  the geographic location.

This week we found two artists who are also making architectural site-specific color interventions. While color designers generally use paints and other material finishes to bring color to a project these artists are using two interesting materials: thread and stickers.

Gabriel Dawe's Plexus via the artist

Gabriel Dawe, originally from Mexico City, made these textile installations to explore the interconnections between fashion and architecture as different kinds of human shelter. Dawe's installations are made using individual strands of colored thread. The arrangement of the threads creates three dimensional color gradients that hang in the air like a cloud.

The perimeter warm white of the spaces allows the color stand out visually, as though color from the walls sprung into the air. The volumetric color draws attention to the architectural spaces we usually don't see: ceilings, support poles and the empty space of stairways.

Gabriel Dawe's Plexus via the artist
The second project is by Yayoi Kusama,  a Japanese artist and writer.  Her project also starts with stark white spaces, but where Dawe's uses real world spaces Kusama makes these white rooms from scratch. She then invited the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art visitors, children especially, to plaster the walls, floor and all the furniture with thousands of multicolored stickers. The project transforms the childhood urge to draw on the walls in to a communal color celebration. 

Yayoi Kusama's Obliteration Room
Where Dawes color clouds revealed interstitial spaces in architecture Kusama's Obliteration Room, asks another interesting question about architectural spaces: where is the divide between the space itself and objects inside that space? With the color of the stickers bleeding over every surface indiscriminate of wall, floor, piano or couch the distinct outlines and division between foreground and background are well obliterated.
Yayoi Kusama's Obliteration Room

 Color  can be applied in a multitude of ways  to change the way we think about our spaces.

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