Sunday, June 30, 2013

DOMA is down and Pride is here!

Pride weekend in San Francisco is one of the most colorful times of the year and this year it was extra special. With the Supreme Court knocking down DOMA as unconstitutional in the United States, and Gay Marriage legal once again in California, people flocked to this years celebration. The ground breaking case not only reinstates the rights of same sex partnerships living in our state but also puts advocates in the perfect position for a nation wide victory in the next five years. It's so exciting even Google got in on the rainbow action.

Pride had become not just a place for out and proud gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people to congregate once a year but it is also a celebration of diversity pure and simple. We come in so many different shapes, colors, sizes, and orientations sometimes it nice to celebrate our unity. This week at Colour Studio we are commemorating this civil rights victory with a rainbow of weddings!

When most people think of wedding dresses it is an all white affair; cream, eggshell, and off white abound. Weddings used to be a black only occasion until Queen Victoria started the fashion trend that would stand an impressive test of time. Inspired by the Royals is all well and good but these are fashion forward times and red wedding dresses crank up the passion on a day all about love. This Vera Wang red wedding gown would turn heads at any wedding, but two ladies in red would be a show stopper.


 Buttercream is a pale yellow white in its natural state but that doesn't mean we can't spice it up a bit with a dash of food coloring. These orange cakes would be the stars of the show at any orange themed reception.

A dash of color doesn't have to mean going totally untraditional. Yellow is the way to go to get away from all white and adds vibrant energy. Tropical and other interesting flowers add texture and intrest to the formal occasion. 

Not only are these green receptions just almost as good as a trip to Emerald City but look at the individual green wedding cakes! What's not to love. 

Don't stick the men with black and grey, when they could shine in these beautiful blue suits featured on Equallywed. Blue suits turn up the volume on any wedding but a pair of gentlemen in blue threads make a creative and confident  wedding statement.. And finally the long held color of gay people everywhere: purple!

Can't choose from the array of lovely colors ?   There is always the whole rainbow!

Happy Pride and Happy Civil Rights!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Color for College

Birkbeck, University of London

You have heard our manta before: schools from kindergardens to college, should be places that invite people in. Educational institutions need to be exciting environments that are well designed.  Good design as well as color application sparks learning.  When students, kids or adults, want to be at school their minds are better primed for achievement.  Depending upon the age of the students the amount of color and stimulus that is appropriate is proportionate to their maturity.

Birkbeck, University of London
Many colleges these days are taking this idea to heart. Colleges, much like tech firms, have found themselves in a very competitive market. Students have a lot of choice when it comes to where to apply and where to spend their education dollars. Colleges are turning to designers and architects to wake up their  campuses and attract students to their institution.    Two colorful colleges Birkbeck, University of London and Da Vinci College in South Holland demonstrate the concept.  Several factors are working in their favor, mature students are comfortable in more colorful environments and European design has long been more adventurous in their application of color .

Birkbeck, University of London
A few years back Birkbeck benefited when England's government approved funding for new buildings on campuses around the country in an effort to modernize schools and keep students engaged. Surface Architects won the competition held for the school with this bold mix of high gloss, matte, and sharp misleading angles. This dense mix of colors quiets as students enter each individual classroom but the common areas, the hallways,  with full padded window benches for studying, encourage lively interaction between students. The colors dare you to be bold with your ideas just to compete with the walls themselves. 

Birkbeck, University of London

Da Vinci College
Da Vinci College, a smaller regional college located in the south of Holland also uses color and architecture to welcome students. But not all uses of color in school work. This school populated by  younger students with vocational aims uses red and yellow to both great and deleterious effect. 

Da Vinci College
The prominent red and yellow glass of the schools  is softly colorful during the day and glows like a striped candy at night. The curving walls, vertical stripes and unpatterned colors give this building a warm bees-to-flowers feeling and the color choices work well. That is until you go inside.

Da Vinci College

When the color scheme goes indoors the warm glow persists but the colors and the way they are positioned on the recessed walls some how maintains a kind of brutalist institutionalism. While surely better than an all white paint job, this layout does little to help the space. Instead of , like the Birkbeck building,  where the common spaces encourage the mixing of ideas with well thought out color placement, this red and yellow arrangement seems entirely arbitrary and perhaps even chosen solely for ease of application. When color is applied though the building without differentiation between active public spaces and  internal quieter classroom situations  the color itself works against the functionality and comfort of the end users.

Da Vinci College
- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

Monday, June 17, 2013

Elsa Schiaparelli, Fashion Icon

Elsa Schiaparelli, or “Schiap” to her inner circle, was one of the world's most prominent fashion designers between the two World Wars. And while her rival Coco Chanel often refered to her as just that Italian artist who made clothes, she rose to prominence with what was considered at the time, provocative and progressive creations.  Writer Leo Lerman described her in an article as "a headline attraction in the international glitter-glamour freak show of the late twenties and pre-war thirties.” It was during this time, at the height of her Studio's production, Schiap created much of what came to define her iconic style.

Her designs, testing the definition of wearability, began to break up the literalness of the fashions of the day. From where we are now, experiencing the Red Carpets populated by the design statements of Lady Gaga and Bjork, Schiaparelli's work seems demure, even polite, but at the time, she was making groundbreaking steps in the deconstruction of fashion. She disregarded the boundaries of acceptability and just let herself create.  

A women with many friends including Marcel Duchamp, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Raoul Dufy, Man Ray even Salvadore Dali, her work was laced through with influences from Dada and Surrealism. One of her most famous pieces was an evening dress made in 1938 titled 'Tear,' made in collaboration with Salvador Dalí. The painter designed a fabric printed with a torn flesh motif, pale strips peeled back to reveal a visceral red, that first appeared in Dalí's 1936 painting 'Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in Their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra.'

She had many firsts over the course of her career. She mixed real jewels with fakes, and plastics with gold. She introduced the first jumpsuit, wrap dress and the idea of paper clothes. She invented foldable eyeglasses, brought new materials to couture including latex, straw, rubber, cork, mattress ticking, and made the first shoulder bag for women. Collaborating with Dali, to make early wearable electronics, they designed an evening bag that features a tiny battery-operated street lamp on the outside,
Schiaparelli is famous for her devotion to shocking pink.
Much as we need to see her clothes in the time they were made to truly understand their genius, Schiaparelli herself is also a product of her time. Her twelve commandments for women, starts out with the brave and progressive advice, "Since most women do not know themselves, they should try to do so." But as her commandments continue they begin to show their age. She tells women to only shop alone or with a man. Why? Because women have an inherent tendency to be jealous. And while she tells women to "buy little and only of the best or the cheapest," she also says "never fit a dress to the body, but train the body to fit the dress," which sounds horribly body-phobic to modern ears. Her position on women and clothes was complicated, and sometimes intentionally provacative, when describing the meaning behind fashion she once said "When you take off your clothes, your personality also undresses and you become quite a different person- more true to your self and to your real character, more conscious, sometimes more cruel."

Schiaparelli's work left waves in fashion that are still felt to this day. Interestingly she also seems to be an early progenitor of a common theme in clothes today: the skeuomorphic or as the fashion industry would call it trompe-l’oeil shirt. These are meta garments intentionally made to reference another category of clothing while still maintaining their conceptual distance. Much like t-shirts printed to look like tuxedos,  these sweaters were made to resemble flouncy blouses. In fact these knit sweaters are what boosted her career, and brought her designs to a wider audience.

After the trials, and liberations that came with WWII, including women now frequently working traditionally male jobs, women had changed. Her theatrical designs no longer appealed to the more practical post war woman, and sadly in 1954 Schiaperelli's house went bankrupt. To keep herself afloat she was one of the first designers to liscense her name to be used by Playtex girdles, Cutex Nail Polish, Congress laying cards, Sealey mattresses, Longines watches, Vat 69 Scotch,  Kraft Italian Dressing, as well as  lingerie, handbags, jewelry, eyeglasses, table lines and chewing gum. 

Schiaparelli was a powerhouse of design, a whirlwind of a personality and a women unafraid of her own abilities. Her ground breaking passion is an inspiration to this day. For more on Schiaparelli check out her autobiography "Shocking Life" or Patricia Volk's  book "Shocked, My Mother, Schiaparelli and Me".

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

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Color of Numbers

Synesthesia, the translation or mixing up of sensations, often affects the way people see and experience colors, but what is the experience like ? Wikipedia uses this image to illustrate how  some syntesthetes experience, but not exactly see, their colorful numbers. 

Interestingly many syntesthetes don't know this is the way they see numbers or letters until they realize others don't percieve numbers this way. Back in February, Numberphile, a math and number centered YouTube channel, interviewed Alex Dainis, a gene researcher, media creator and grapheme-color synesthete, who discribed her revelation about her synesthesia.  Her freshmen year in college, a professor asked if anyone saw numbers with colors and her gut reaction was to say no, of course not, numbers don't have colors but instead each digit, 0-9, was associated with a personality. But her moody and brooding 9, she realized felt that way not because she didn't get along with 9's but instead because her brain always showed her 9 in a dark marrow red.

This video is  a fascinating look into how an actual syntesthete experiences numbers in everyday life, and how this cross wiring influences what she feels is intrinsically right or wrong when it comes to numbers and objects in the real world.  It also opened a flood of comments from viewers with the same condition but with completely different colors associated with each of their numbers. Thankfully all this data was handed over to number nerds.   From that outpouring came these fantastic graphs which shine a light on how our brains tend to mix things up.

With the data all laid out trends start to appear. The most universally common associations for  0 and 1 are black or white, but 0 can also be perceived as transparent. Another clear trend is that as the numbers increase in value so  do the diversions in standard colorization. The three primary colors of red, yellow and blue, are all strong contenders for many of the numbers, but green  makes up a large proportion of the votes. The associations get more and more complicated until we reach 10, or 1 and 0 together, in which black and white again dominate. 

The video was so popular with viewers,  Numberphile recently went back to meet with Alex to ask her some questions. Here are some questions: Are you making it up? How do larger numbers look? What about primes? or Does your color association go both ways? This follow up video is great for anyone who has ever wanted to ask these types of in depth questions about Synesthesia and how our brains use color to categorize and label the world around us. 

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

Sunday, June 2, 2013

LED's replacing Paint?

LED's could replace paint as the future of color in architecture. This is the Busan cinema center in Busan, South Korea, a new creation by the architects at Vienna based Coop Himmelb(l)au. This building is an architectural feat in more ways than one. The structure includes an impressive 85 meter long cantilevered roof, which is  twice as long as the wing of an Airbus. "Once we [start building] architecture like aircraft wings we will no longer need columns," said Wolf D. Prix, the a co-founder, Design Principal and CEO of  Coop Himmelb(l)au. 

The engineering involved in this kind of build is fascinating, and has even garnered an International Property Award in Leisure Architecture.  We are interested in the  colorful  LED underbelly of the wing. The over head field of color is the architectural focal point of the complex which includes a series of indoor and outdoor spaces focused on the experience of film.   The roof itself becomes a projection screen made up of  transparent glazing and metal  mesh structures to show off color.

At night the LED screen breaks up the solidity of the building and evaporates into a sweep of colorful animations of fluid dynamics. It bucks the trend of colorless glass and steel and, instead of relying on the colorful lights of advertisers, incorporates the visitors experience of color directly into the building. Perhaps the dreaded future of cities packed with colorless metal buildings will be rescued by the increasingly cheap, flexible and dynamic technology which allows for modern applications of color. With such an amazing screen/building now up and running,  lets hope motion graphic and video artists are given the opportunity to create site specific colorful works individual to that screen. 

images © duccio malagamba 

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