A blank slate, and we get to watch the transformation

Apartment Therapy is embarking upon the transformation of one family's 725 sf apartment in NYC. The owners have given them complete freedom to make cost-effective, efficient changes. Ah, if only every client were as trusting!
I, for one, am intrigued. Everything is builder's white, white, white at the moment.
image source
If I get a chance, I'll try to keep an eye on their progress and keep you all updated, with my own personal commentary on color along the way :-)

Update 11-30-07
They've posted updates on the renovation. They stained the floor a deep rich brown, which I love, but it appears the walls are still bland bland bland. How is that carte blanche?!

What would you guys have done?

Ancient Greeks Views on Color

There's a great article over at Livelygrey on the ancient Greek view on color. Still believe Greek statues and temples were always plain white marble? Think again...
image via source

The psychology of a scene-movie stills

Recently, I was reading a design blog that suggested there should be a blog dedicated to interior design in movies. I would love to see a scenic designer create such a thing, with analysis of movie and television sets, and lots of stills.

To me, the physical set in a movie is like an entire character in itself. Through color and lighting, directors have the opportunity to further develop plot lines, characters, or back-stories, without saying a word.
Take, for instance, "Down with Love", that silly movie with Renee Zellweger and Ewen McGregor. There's a clearly stylized look and feel to the sets, a deliberately fake visual reality.
Barbara's apartment
Here's what Don Diers, the Set Decorator, had to say about his use of color:
We all felt, especially the Director and the Production Designer, that our color choices needed to be deliberate and bold. Each of our main characters existed in a specifically colored world. Barbara, Renee’s character, for instance, was always surrounded by lots of virginal white. This was accented by exuberant sherbet colors. Luckily our Director of Photography, Jeff Cronenweth, wasn’t afraid of all that white. Catch, the Ewen McGregor character, lived in a shifty bachelor’s world. His was a world of shadow and dark saturated color.
Catch's apartment

Are there any movies you've seen that would be fun to analyze, color-wise?

images and quote via source
Photographs copyright Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises.

Color Awareness

I'm back from San Diego where I attended a color awareness seminar. I always enjoy meeting up with my fellow IACC colleagues, swapping stories about careers, and just learning what everyone else is up to. I hope to do some mini blog interviews in the near future with some of the fascinating ladies I met.

In the seminar, one of the things we talked about was the primary and secondary nature of a color. Think about the color wheel, and how each color is situated in-between two other colors.Take red, for example. On one side, it's flanked by violet, and on the other side, orange. The primary characteristic refers to the major family a color resides in, or its dominant trait. The secondary characteristic refers to the undertone, or the adjacent hue it's closest to. Red's secondary characteristic could be orange, making it an orangy-red, or violet, making it a violet-red. Colors can also have a secondary characteristic of a color near it. For instance, you can have a bluish-red, too.

But the Traditional artist's color wheel doesn't do an adequate job of explaining this concept, so we were introduced to the Natural Color System, another way of organizing colors.It diagrams the progression from one color into the next, and charts colors that fall on paths in between each color. My photograph doesn't capture the nuances of each color, but at least it gives you an idea of the structure.

We also pulled out our paints to try our hand at mixing colors to create colors with clear secondary characteristics. The first series you see across the longest row uses a yellow with a distinctly green undertone, mixed with each of the other colors. Really interesting exercise you can do at home to test this theory. For instance, not all reds and yellows will make a pure orange. If you want to know the colors we used, email me for the details.

Sharpening my Color Sensitivity

I'm really excited- I'm off to San Diego today for a weekend seminar about color awareness and sensitivity, hosted by my color association, the IACC. They have a special guest lecturer, Professor Edda Mally, flying in from Salzburg, Germany to give the seminar.

So, posting might be a bit sparse 'til I get back in the office Tuesday. But I hope to have lots of juicy tid bits for you then!

Other people's colors

Apartment Therapy is in the midst of a color contest. It's too late to submit new entries, but you can still check out the submissions and see who is in the running as finalists.
WHAT: Our Fall Colors Contest is a contest for all color lovers. We're looking for the boldest, most beautiful, most colorful home in the world.

WHY: Color is a powerful part of interior design, and the cheapest way to change a room, but few feel comfortable using it. To inspire confidence, we're going to share all of the best color homes, tips and sources, worldwide.

Gangs use color as social signifier

"Fashion has always been something of a uniform. Goths, hippies, preppies, Madison Avenue ladies who lunch: each group has its look." -NYT

Continuing my investigation into gang color schemes, we have yet another group. The Latin Kings are a street gang, claiming chapters across the country. Their identifiers are black and gold or yellow, like a poisonous animal warning off predators. According to one source, black represents death, gold represents life. A NYT article looks into why members chose to draw attention to themselves in such an obvious fashion. Their gang colors certainly don't help them stay under the cop's radar.
image sources left, middle,right
The Latin Kings themselves say that wearing the colors is a matter of cultural pride and identity. Leaders of the gang claim major clothing companies have capitalized on the allure of gang colors to market their products.

HBO documentary

Others disagree; they don't think the colors are a matter of pride. “Most of them come from nothing: poor homes, crack-infested neighborhoods. They are looking for some kind of identity.” Showing gang colors can also been seen as an organizational tool, a control mechanism.

It certainly send out a warning signal to others, that's for sure.

Painting dark bedrooms-does it work?

The New York Times has a article online about painting bedrooms a dark color. When consulting, I often run up against opposition to this suggestion. People worry about closing in a space, when in reality, certain spaces are much more effective when they create a cozy atmosphere. It's not right for everyone, but just think about the mood you want for a room. For sleeping, what's wrong with enveloping your entire space like a warm hug?
image source
“People are always afraid of things becoming too dark or depressing. Even though they seem compelled to use deeper colors, they want to know, is this going to make the room appear too small, or ruin my life?”Deep colors can work beautifully, but some colors look better in dark shades than others. -NYT
The consensus is to keep the deep colors in a warm palette, like rich browns, burgundy, and golden tones. Blues and greens can lean towards being too cold and depressing. But like I always say, it's all about context; there are no recipes for a successful color scheme.

Have you taken any risks with color in your house? Were they successful?

Paintings on the side

Over the years, a friend and I have collaborated on a yearly mural for an elementary school classroom. Each year, the classroom got a new original piece of art. Now, we are faced with a closet full of carefully-preserved, huge 15 foot long canvas murals. They certainly aren't doing anyone any good in storage, so we agreed that we would investigate selling them. They are rather extravagant purchases. But after working in the high-end pet portrait biz for several years, I know it's not unrealistic for some.
So, if you happen to know of someone who is in the market for a huge, whimsical mural, please point them to my etsy shop. Thanks!

Attention pros: for the hard-core color lover

Colour: Design & Creativity, a new online publication by the Society of Dyers and Colourists in England , is directed at filling the gap in color-information for professionals who work in a field where color plays an important role.
It primarily contains reports of research-based work that has been conducted on color. They take an academic approach, which is thrilling for those of us who are constantly searching for concrete scientific data for argumentation on color projects.
Colour is one of the most fundamental criteria in all matters of design, and the journal will seek to nurture a better understanding of colour and its application in design theory and practice, in particular the synergy between colour and design, as opposed to their individual importance. -www.colour-journal.org
For instance, here's a fascinating study that was written up about Facial Expressions, Colours, and Basic Emotions.

image source
They investigated whether pairing of facial expressions of emotion with colors is consistent among different cultures, in particular between Australian and European people. Two groups, one consisting mainly of younger and the other of older people, participated in two experiments. For each of six faces, which expressed the basic emotions anger, surprise, disgust, sadness, happiness and fear, single colours and combinations of three colors were selected for the best visual ‘fit’ with the faces. Find out what they learned in the article..

Editor's note: Out of curiosity, are you readers of this blog interested in learning more about this sort of scientific approach to color, or do you prefer the lighter "eye-candy" and such posts? I'd like to know what you want to see more of...