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.

Friday, March 4, 2011

No One is Colorblind

According to statistics, around 7.5% of the men and 0.5% of the women are colorblind. But what does that mean? Are nearly 1 out of 10 people unable to see colors? No, not exactly. There are in fact very few people who can only see in black, white and greys. This type of ‘real’ colorblindness is very rare. Red-green deficiencies are by far the most common. Moreover, if we reagard, black, white and grey as colors too, only the fully blind are colorblind. Therefor the term ‘colorblind’ is misleading. It covers a whole range of deviciencies.

This is an image of vegetables, as seen by people with normal vision. Below is the same image, as seen by people with the most common types of ‘colorblindness’: protanopia, deuteranopia and tritanopia.

The vegetables as seen by a person with protanopia (red-green deficiency).

The vegetables as seen by a person with deuteranopia (another form of red-green deficiency).

The vegetables as seen by a person with tritanopia (blue-yellow deficiency).

So how to deal with this from a designer’s perspective? There’s a simple trick to test whether people with a vision deficiency see someting or not. Take a picture and turn it into black and white. Here’s the same fruit in black and white.
Everyone can distinguish the cauliflower from a paprika. And everyone can tell a red paprika from a yellow one, because the red is darker. However, distinguishing between a yellow and an orange paprika is a lot harder. And more surprising: doesn’t that green zucchini look just like an aubergine?