Friday, February 22, 2013

Fun Color Facts!

We have covered the origins of several colors before here at Colour Studio but this week we wanted to share a funny and frank infographic that turned up on Reddit. Made by a paint lover, it shows and describes a few of the lesser thought about aspects of turning  raw materials into  colors before the Industrial Revolution. While we don't know when malachite was first being used as a mineral dye we do know,  like most on this list, fell out of use in the 1800's.

Malachite is green for the same reason the Statue of Liberty is green: oxidizing copper. The malachite forms as water runs off copper ore  in underground deposits and the sediment creates stalactites and stalagmites. These beautiful stones, which were often used for jewelry and royal crowns, were crushed to make vibrant green dyes and paints.

But wait,  green is not  the only color copper's got up its sleeve.   Next on the list is azurite. This weathering copper is actually one stage earlier in the copper mineralization time line. Like malachite, azurite is deposited by water, and it too forms those distinctive layering patterns in geode shapes.  Azurite is unstable when exposed to air and itself weathers into malachite.

The origins of black are admittedly banal. It's made from burnt ... anything really. "If it burns you can likely make black pigment out of it," wood, cloth, even animal bones. But purple is surprising. Purple was made from predatory sea snails that only live in tropical waters. While the graphic does say the dye is produced from grinding the shells other sources point instead to the snails secretions. But either way it's certainly unique. 

The graphic is fun and eye opening and a must read for all of our fellow color lovers !

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

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque

The Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran hit the front page of Reddit this week all thanks to its fantastic use of color. The traditional Shia mosque was built  from 1876 to 1888 and thrives as an active place of worship as well as a protected historical site to this day. 

Islam has a tradition of aniconism, the prohibition of depictions of  sentient living beings because it is considered a from of idolatry. These liturgical prescriptions have led to Islamic art and architecture focused on the abstract, with color and texture both playing large roles in the visual vocabulary. 

Geometrical patterns became the popular motif in Islamic art and were and still are considered visual contemplation of the complexity of the universe around us. The circle sits at the center of all Islamic patterns and from there it breaks out in to more and more complex puzzles of geometry with triangles, squares and hexagons all with intricate color of their own. Thus the interior of the Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque is a riot of color, an abstract visual cornucopia of specific cultural nuances with deep ties to Islam.

While the mosque is built with some wood, the majority of the amazing colors and textures are wrought in ceramic tile and colored glass which at the time of construction were in common use.  Persian rugs in the image below  not only contribute to making the tile floors more comfortable for kneeling upon but  also add colors and patterns all their own. The continuous shine of the teal floor glistens in the sun light while the rugs add  beauty and practicality to the space. Interestingly the rugs and the architecture conform  to a traditional pattern and proportion  allowing for a the  alignment of carpets and runners to fit precisely between the columns.   

The beauty and resonance of each of the design elements are all focused on creating a reverent atmosphere inside the mosque. Its so nice to see  color play a role unifying beauty and blessing throughout the world.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Magic of Carpet

Here on the Life in Color blog we love to talk architecture, paint, surfaces and materials but we have been neglecting something. We have discussed wood floors, ceramic tile and even stained concrete but today is devoted to a long loved flooring, the carpet. 

Aerial view of US Farmland carpet by Florian Pucher
Even if it feels great on the feet,  wall to wall beige carpeting is the bane of many renters, and expensive to replace in the starter home. In commercial installations where carpet typically is glued directly to the concrete floor, there have been incidences of chemical repercussions. In residential situations, sometimes the dyes and  synthetic materials used in the manufacture of carpets  have been shown to contribute significantly to indoor air pollution. So what is a color lover with a need for warm feet to do?

Via Terramia
Stair runners, area rugs and carpet tile all give surprising definition to a space without the financial commitment of wall to wall carpet. This striped stair runner from Terramia is matched with a bold pink wall.  Staircases are the liminal, in between spaces of our homes and this colorful carpet makes it a space all its own, a place you would enjoy passing through. The clean all white space is highlighted with a dense orange that focuses the attention exactly where it should be when using the stairs.

Carpet tiles via Interface
For the  more creative among us there are carpet tiles. Not only can you mix and match the tiles giving you a paint like level of creative  control,  the carpet tiles are modular .   Like area rugs  you  can switch them our by season or when you want a new look.

This area rug demonstrates the visual success an area rug over existing carpet  can create. Vibrant color draws the eye making the airy room feel more grounded. The addition of the bold zigzag in eye popping red makes this not just another bedroom, but someones favorite room in the house. When all you have is beige carpet sometimes and area rug is the perfect addition to make a space fell like home. Area rugs are the oldest form of carpet in the world and while today most are made with computerized looms, the originals were and still are made by hand. While definitely a bigger investment that their modern counterparts these rugs are beautiful and traditional.   When sourced through the right importers, these rugs help sustain the craftsman and women whose families have been making rugs in Iran and surrounding areas since ancient times.

Traditional woven rugs have inspired some astounding outdoor installations including this famous example: The Brussels Flower Carpet. This installation is created every two years in the Grand Place Square,  in the the center of Brussels.

When you are looking to recolor your home, of course take time to consider the walls but floors too need some attention. What kind of carpets cozy up you space?

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

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Color of Government

We seldom think about the color choices of our fore fathers or our color traditions but when it comes to government buildings color is hard to ignore. White is in and has been since the 1700's. Take the White House which sits like a majestic ghost in crisp white surrounded by meticulously kept green lawns. The sandstone building was first made white with lime-based whitewash in 1798, when the walls were finished to protect the porous stone from freezing. The white wash is no mistake or accident of history.  The White House is distinctly reminiscent of the long tradition of Southern Plantation Houses, which themselves are associated with the most powerful men of ancient times. Eighteenth Century America was as yet unaware of the polycromatic nature of Roman and Greek architecture.   When modeling the new republic on the ideals of that ancient inventor of democracy,  they also based our architecture on what they thought was properly Greek. 

In the US,  white has become synonymous with capitol buildings, court houses and Congress itself, all emulating the power of the White House.  However the United States is not the only country with a famously colored executive residence. The Pink House is the residence and office of the Argentinian President. Historically the building was painted pink to symbolize the two major political parties coming together.  With two opposing sides, one represented by white and the other red, the pink of the Pink House is a call for neutrality and unity in the Argentinian government

So what if the White House was pink? We can have a glimpse with this image of the White House lit up pink for a Breast Cancer Awareness event. Does the dwelling of our leader loose associative power without the stark formality of white or would a century of the Pink House simply change what looks powerful?

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