Monday, December 5, 2011

Colorwriting Machine

Wow, this is so cool!
Tyree Callahan converted a 1937 Underwood Standard typewriter into a colorwriter. He replaced the ink pads and letter keys by colored paint pads and markers. So that you can 'write' color instead of text. I love the idea...
You can go vote for this work of art here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Red Faces over Yellow Bridge

A bridge that should have been painted blue was accidentally painted yellow. The people of Upton-upon-Severn, a town in England were quite upset to find that the muted Dutchess Blue that was chosen in a six week public consultation had been replaced by a bright yellow. 
Never underestimate the public outrage when picking the color wrong. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Can You Recognize Coca-Cola Red?

You probably know as well as I do that Coca-Cola Inc. goes to great lengths to have the exact same shade of red on every can and bottle of coke in every corner of the world. So, one would expect to be able to recognize Coca-Cola red, right? Else, why go through all the trouble? Here's a test. Can you recognize Coca-Cola red in the 3 images below? All images, including the photo of the can, were meticulously color calibrated.
Please take the poll to vote for the most likely contender. After you take the poll you can visit this page to see which image is actually Coca-Cola red.

Poll: Which has CocaCola red?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nasa Produces Nano Black

This week, NASA announced that they managed to produce real black black paint. The image shows the structure of the nano paint under a microscope.
What is black? There was an interesting discussion on Quora, the other day, about black. Go check it out, some interesting things came up. My own definition of black, as written on Quora, is:
"No light. The perfect black surface reflects or emits no light at all."
Which implies that black paint absorbs all light. However, the blackest of black paints only absorbs some 90% of light max. So black paint isn't actually black. It's dark grey. And then there's the invisable light: infrared and ultraviolet. They're more important than you think, because they contribute much to the heat buildup in a paint surface. It is always said that a dark surface becomes warmer than a light surface. While this may be true in most cases, it disregards the effect of UV and infrared. Some dark surfaces won't get as warm as you'd expect because they won't absorb UV and infrared.
So now Nasa came up with a black paint that absorbs up to 99.5% of all light, including infrared and UV. If you would use that paint on your house, it would become a bit of a black hole. I wouldn't recommend it. But I'd love to see it nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pedro Gadanho, master Colorist

Here's some work of a Portugese architect and master colorist: Pedro Gadanho. Just in case you haven't come across him yet.
The image shows a house in Torres Vedras. I particularly like the way he defines shapes and spaces by use of color. He totally gets it. Visit Design Milk for more inspiring images. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cute Paint Job

Here's a cute paint job in the streets of Amsterdam.
The 'box' next to the door houses telephone wires. You see them all over town. But generally they are plain grey. I guess the owner of this house didn't like the grey much...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guggenheim Colors

I'm not sure what to make of the Guggenheim Colors by Fine Paints of Europe. It looks like a finely tuned color fandeck that may provide you with some inspiration. But what to do with 'the perfect wall colors to complement the celebrated collection of modern art', if you don't have the same walls, nor the same collection? The Guggenheim Museum, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, is a very specific space, with very specific light and shape. There's just no way that the same colors will yield the same result in your living room.
Yet, if you cut through the smoke and mirrors, this may be a nice tool for inspiration. Just don't expect these colors to do exactly the same for you as they did for the Guggenheim.

Friday, October 14, 2011

100,000 year old paint factory in Africa

Deep in an southern African cave, researchers uncovered the remains of a paint factory that appears to date back 100,000 years. The cave artisans used stones for punding and grinding. Ocher was mixed with mammal fat and charcoal to form a red substance. The paint was then stirred and liquified in large abalone shells with a bone spatula.
Archeologists say that this workshop is one of the earliest examples yet of Homo Sapiens processing ocher, one of the first pigments in wide use. The early humans may have applied the paint to their skin for protection or decoration. Perhaps it was their way to make artisitic statements.
The finding is of special importance because it shows how early humans had begun thinking like us. Scientists call it a "benchmark in the evolution of complex human cognition."
I had never thought that a paint factory would mark the beginning of modern humanity. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

AkzoNobel brands brought under the banner of Let's Colour

AkzoNobel announced that pretty much all their consumer paint brands will go under the banner of 'Let's Colour' from now on. This is a bold move, considering that individual brands tend to form little kingdoms within the larger corporations. Quite a few little kings will be dismayed. 
It's also a bold move because it risks throwing away a lot of the consumer awareness and goodwill that the old brands built over the years. But Tex Gunning, the man in charge of AkzoNobel's multi billion dollar decorative coatings business, may well be right: "By delivering a consistent brand image around the world, we can increase our global scale and establish more leadership positions." It takes a bold man to make such a bold move. 
I'm not surprised though. I met Tex the other day, when we sat down to exchange ideas. He's a highly unusual figure in the top of the corporate world. He's open to new ideas and isn't shy of following his own course, even it goes against the stream. It takes a man like Tex Gunning to allow for a campaign such as 'Let's Colour'. I mean: which corporate leader in his right mind would allow thousands of cans of paint be wasted on old factory buildings and depressing housing projects? He did. While managing to generate a huge amount of exposure and goodwill in the process.
Good for you, Tex. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Colorchats, the new BM weblog

Benjamin Moore has a new weblog, colorchats. Go check it out. Some decent blogposts till now. Though the BM bloggers should try stop peddling silly corporate marketing bullplop such as 'full spectrum colors'. Come on guys, we're grown ups here…

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Color Daily

Go check this out. The color daily is a webpage which gathers daily color news. I'm not sure how useful this is, but the idea is sure cool.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What is your favorite color?

Your favorite color doesn’t exist. I’m sure you’re going to argue with that. But what I mean is that your favorite color doesn’t exist in a pot of paint. In some cases, a pot of paint in a particular shade of red may have the exact right effect you’re looking for. But next time, or on the next door, it may not work. Colors do not exist as single entities. The human eye only perceives color differences, not single colors. So the shade of orange that you like so much may only ‘happen’ when viewed against a white backdrop. Viewed against black or green or blue it may disappoint.
Which orange do you prefer, the left or the right one? In fact both colors are exactly the same. Though their adjoining colors are not.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Portraits in fluorescent colors

The colors of these portraits blew me away. They were made by French artist Francoise Nielly. Perhaps it's no coincidence that she grew up in south of France, where Vincent van Gogh used to make his most famous paintings.
It is a bit of a shame that a computer monitor will never show the full impact of the fluorescent colors.
Nielly also painted a cool Citroen Survolt sportscar, recently. I wouldn't mind having one of those, preferably with a Nielly paintjob.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Color Time

Fashion tends to go out of fashion pretty fast. Those beautiful clothes today may look outdated only a few months from now. The timespan of fashion is 6 to 12 months. The timespan of a paint job of your house is 8 years on average. The timespan of a building may be hundreds of years. The timespan of a city may be thousands of years. When choosing colors, choose them with the appropriate timespan in mind. In makes no sense to choose highy fashionable colors for your home. But it makes no sense either to choose them for its full timespan of hundreds of years.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Colors of the New York City Sky

I came across this fascinating site: New York City Sky, which shows the average color of the sky in NYC, updated every 5 minutes.
However, I suspect the images are taken with a rather simple camera which automatically adjusts the lighting settings. Because it can be measured that the color of the light may vary wildly over the day. A lot more, in fact, than in shown on the website. Nevertheless, the site is amazing.
I showed some of the same in my series of Taj Mahal pictures, previously.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Colorpilgrim for more color inspiration

Do you need more color inspiration? Check out Colorpilgrim allows to to browse color palettes by category, keyword or color. Each palette is accompanied by a visual, captured of an engaging subject to convey a particular mood. Each palette consists of the 21 most dominant colors in that image.
Colorpilgrim empowers the creative individual with a host of color inspiration.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Blue Cities

With all the Hollywood brouhaha surrounding the Spanish city of Juzcar, one would almost forget that other cities have been blue for ages. Take the ancient city of Chefchaouen for instance. Chefchaouen is a gorgeous city in northeastern Morocco. It is the main city of the province with the same name. It was founded by the Moorish exiles from Spain in 1492 and lies near the Rif Mountains. Its blue-rinsed houses and buildings is a tradition that comes from the town's former Jewish population.
These beautiful photos were taken by Maxim Kiryushin.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Colourspots by IJM

For your inspiration: Colour-Spots by IJM Colourlab in Amsterdam. 
IJM's colourspotters are always on the lookout for atmospheres and stories. In the Colourlab, these stories get translated to actual colours, combined carefully in palettes.
Check the website and make sure to click the 'COLOUR-SPOTS' item in the menu.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blue Dunes in Orange Sky

Here's a beautiful picture, taken in the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia, Africa. Amazingly, the photo has not been tampered with. The photographer swears this how it came out of the camera. These are camel thorn trees against a dune, in the morning light.
Read here the National Geographic story that featured the photo.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Where is white in the paint fan deck?

Occasionally, people ask where to find white and black paints in Colorjive. The blackest black is S 9000-N in the NCS fan deck. The whitest white is S 0300-N. But that black isn't as black as the darkest parts of the monitor. And the white is not as light as monitor white. How can that be?
The short answer is: there is no such thing as an absolute black or white. What we call white is generally the lightest color we can see. And we call the darkest color black. So, when viewing colors on the monitor, a pixel that blasts out all 256 levels of light in Red, Green and Blue is perceived as white. If a pixel doens't emitt any light, it is perceived as black.
If you compare the monitor white to a white paper, you'll notice that it is not the same. The paper might actually be lighter, depending on the ambient light. And magically, the color you first perceived as white on the monitor changes to grey when viewed next to a lighter piece of paper. That's because your eyes just adapted to the new situation.
So where does that leave us with regard to paint? In theory, white paint should reflect all light 100%. Black paint should reflect no light at all. But such paint doesn't exist. Paint manufacturers try to come as close as they can but will never achieve 100% result.
The NCS color code already shows the flaws. In NCS, absolute white should have a color code starting with the number 00, which indicates it contains no black at all. But in fact, the best possible white in NCS has the number 03, which means it contains 3% black and 97% white. And this is a color that is already quite difficult to achieve in paint.
NCS black has the number 90, which means 90% black and 10% white. So the blackest paint the industry can come up with, still contains 10% white.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The difference between designing for the public and for the individual

People tend to make a distinction between designing a color scheme for interior and for exterior. But in my experience, it doesn't make much difference. However, there's huge difference between designing for public space and for private space. In fact the difference is so big that while I consider myself an expert on color in public space, I don't consider myself qualified for color design in private space. So what's the difference?
In private space, the personal feelings, tastes and biasses of the owner are leading. So it's a highly personal and psychologcal process: you need to understand your client's personal needs and circumstances. Only then you'll be able to come up with a plan that fits your client's personality. You have to know the tricks and methods of the process.
In public space, on the other hand, the process is very different. Frist you need to try and find out the needs and circumstances of the community that occupies that space. Obviously, getting to know a community is different from trying to understand an individual. In public space, it is inevitable to go with generalizations. You also have to understand how MOST people react to color in general, rather than the peculiarities of one individual person.
In short: public space requires working with groups, while public space requires dealing with an individual. It is not the same at all….

Monday, May 9, 2011

Help Mark Zuckerberg pick colors for his new home

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg just bought a new home. But isn't it a bit bland? All white, no color? Doesn't the guy who runs the world's largest social network deserve a more colorful place to come home to after a hard day's work?
Please help Mark seek out new colors for his home. Click on the images below to change the colors. When you're done, you can post it on Facebook.
Have fun!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blue underpants, your key to business success!

Did you know that orange underpants are the key to your emotional success? I sure didn't. But it says so on onrangeunderpants dot com (visit at your own peril), so it must be true.
"I must admit that talking about the color of your undies was much like not having a missing tooth, a bit personal. Still, to try is to speak from experience and I found that orange undies have an amazing effect. It is like carrying around a subconscious security blanket – only you know you have it."
I have no orange underpants, so that must be the reason I'm an emotional wreck.

However, I'm pretty sure that my blue underpants are key to my business success. And pink underpants are key to success in love. For some of us, at least.
What do you want to succeed in? Choose your own color of underpants in the widget below.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Party in full Orange

So you thought the wedding of William and Kate is a big deal? If you want to see a huge royal party, try Queensday in Holland, every year on the 30th of april. There will be a party of half a million people, in Amsterdam alone. This party is not only BIG, it's all orange too.
Step aside William and Kate, here's the real party. 
But why all the orange? What's that got to do with the Dutch Queen? 
First a bit of history. The progenitor of the Dutch Royal family is William, count of Orange. William received the title 'count of Orange' way back in the 8th century AC when he conquered the city of Orange in the south of France. That's why the Dutch royal family is named 'House of Orange'.
The Dutch flag is red, white and blue. But in the olden days it used to be orange, white and blue. Orange was only replaced by red in the last century. However, we still have a 'wimple' which is an orange extra on the flag, which makes the Dutch flag quite unique.

In 1885 politicians invented "princess's day', to celebrate the fifth birthday of princess Wilhelmina and to invoke a feeling of national unity. When Wilhelmina became queen, the yearly princess's day became queensday. When she was succeeded by her daughter Juliana, Queensday moved to the 30th of april, Juliana's birthday. In 1980 Juliana retired and the current queen Beatrix succeeded her. In honor of her mum, Beatrix kept queensday on the 30th of april.
Queensday is a national holiday. Tradionally, open-air parties are organized in all towns and villages, with artist's performances and music. Another tradition is that everyone can sell anything anywhere that day. This gave way to the world's largest garage sale. On queensday many people in Holland drag all the stuff they don't need anymore out into the streets to sell it. For 12 hours or so, a crazy buy and sell frenzy takes place, with people dancing in-between.
For most people these days, queensday is just an excuse for the biggest party of the year and doing crazy things with everything orange.
BTW, the Dutch national sports teams are always dressed in orange. Now you know why...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

10 Tips for Monitor Calibration

Our friends over at Colour Confidence published 10 tips for monitor calibration. Paraphrased:
Tip 1 - Take the ambient light into account
Tip 2 - Colors surrounding your monitor impact the colors on your monitor
Tip 3 - Don't overdo the brightness.
Tip 4 - Turn off auto-brightness
Tip 5 - Remove Adobe Gamma
Tip 6 - Default settings: Luminance 90, Gamma 2.2, Temperature 6500
Tip 7 - Warm your monitor up first
Tip 8 - Repeat first time Calibration
Tip 9 - Compare to print
Tip 10- Calibrate once a month
You can download the full text here.
You can use our free Calibrize utility for Calibration. But hardware calibration tools always yield better result.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Biological arms race leads to unique egg colors and patterns

To ward off the cuckoo finch, every host bird lays eggs of different color and pattern, thus leading to a wealth of colorful eggs.
New research by Claire Spottiswoode and Martin Stevens reveals that the biological arms race between cuckoos and host birds can escalate into a competion for unique egg colors and patterns. Variations in eggs seem to act like the complicated markings on a banknote: complex colors and patterns act to make host eggs more difficult to forge by cuckoos.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grass in Any Color You Want

Did you know that some people spray their yard with paint to make it more green? Seriously. Not exactly my cup of tea. But I was wondering what would happen if you use paint other than green? I mean, when you paint, you might as well paint it in another color, right?
Click on the grass to paint it any color you like.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bizarre Colors of Rock had a contest for geology photos. Boring rock you say? Not at all. Go see the winning photos here. Nothing boring about them. And the colors are awesome. I never knew rocks could have such bizarre colors.
An ancient banded iron formation in Michigan, US. And yes, the rock is this red.

Schist rock in Brittany, France.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Calibrize for accurate colors on your monitor

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually achieve a very accurate match between the colors on the monitor and actual paint. But is is not easy. It takes more equipment and expertise than even most professionals have available. However, you can achieve a 'rather well' match by calibrating your monitor with a free calibration utility such as calibrize. And if you own a Mac, a utility is built right into your OS. (See system preferences>monitors>color)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Eduardo Souto de Moura, an architectural master in color

News came in that Eduardo Souto de Moura, a Portugese architect, has been awarded the 2011 Pritzker Prize. You could think of the Pritzker Prize as the special achievement Academy award for Architecture.
'During the past three decades, eduardo souto de moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions. His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics - power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy - at the same time,' says the Pritzker Prize jury.
On first sight, Souto de Moura's use of color conveys conflicting characters as well. Consider this colorful sketch of the Braga Stadium. It makes clear that Souto de Moura lives and breaths color. Even a simple and quick line sketch is filled with color.
Yet, if you look at the real thing, there's only a grey concrete structure.
So, is that all there is with regard to Souto de Moura's color? No certainly not. Just look closely at the concrete. Look again. Find the world of color that lingers in the higlights and shadows of the building. Perhaps the next picture will make it more clear.
So, Souto de Moura appears to be into greys, but upon closer look, he's very sensitive to color. Which is evident in explosion of color in the image of his Museum 'Casa das Historias Paula Rego' in Portugal.
Congratulations to Eduardo Souto de Moura, for winning the prize and being such an outstanding architect.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Black cars in short supply as a result of tsunami

Who would have thought a quake could affect the colors of cars?

Ford Motor, whose founder once famously said that customers could buy his Model T “in any colour that he wants so long as it is black,” is now cutting off orders for Tuxedo Black paint on new cars. The color contains Xirallic, a paint additive only manufactured in a location close to the stricken Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan. Toyota, Chrysler, GM, Ford and others have all been affected by interruption in the supply of the metallic additive, which gives a glittering shine to red, black and other colors. 160 Xirallic plant staff and their families have been relocated and it is unclear when the plant, which was also damaged by the earthquake, will be able to resume production.
More details at

Saturday, March 26, 2011

There's no such thing as bad taste

Taste is a social phenomenon. It is a pattern of preferences and choices which is tied to culture, time, place and status. It is therefor relative and never absolute. The term ‘good taste’ could be translated to ‘according to accepted esthetic standards’. No more, no less. There is no such thing as ‘bad’ taste’, though not all tastes are generally accepted.
This is illustrated by the choice of colors of cars. Ford found that people in different cities have different tastes. And I bet the same goes for different countries.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Color Psychology

The field of color psychology is occupied by scientists on one side, mystics on the other. Somewhere inbetween, researchers investigate the influence of color on humans. To prevent getting lost in this psychological jungle, it is of utmost importance to trust your own common sense and never take anything for granted.
Many people say many things about color. But only few people take the trouble of explaining what they actually mean when using the term ‘color’. For example, here’s a piece of text from a website peddling color therapy:
"The colours you chose will reflect the needs that lie hidden within. Your colour choice will help you to recognise these needs at a deep level."
However, nowhere on the site is explained what is meant with ‘colour’.  The therapy involves little glass bottles, containing transparant liquid in different shades of color. Which begs the question: which role does the light play in this equation? After all, the color of the liquid depends very much on the light falling through. And will it work with another liquid in the same shade? Or is this about the chemical properties of the liquid? Texts such as these invoke questions rather than answering any.
It is easy to say anything about color. As long as you don’t explain what you mean, no one will be able to prove you wrong.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Colorful Furniture

Here's a colorful cabinet by Belgian designer Steven Wittouck, owner of the Moca label of furniture. I love the minimalistic qualities of it. Yet, the cabinet offers plenty of color options. You can play with it by clicking on the cabinet. Have fun.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

White and White

Sometimes it pays to fuzz about small color differences, sometimes it doesn’t.
Suppose you have two identical teapots, both white. If one is in the kitchen and the other in the living room, you wouldn’t be able to tell if they are exactly the same shade of white. Could be that they have different production dates, causing a slight difference in color. You could say that in this case, any small difference in color between the two pots is irrelevant.
However, if you switch the lids, even a small difference in color suddenly becomes quite relevant.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Colors Are Not for Eternity

On average, all buildings needs a thorough paint job every eight years. That means every eight years there’s an opportunity to change the colors. Colors are not for eternity. Think about that when making your next color choice.