Care to learn more about your toothbrush?

When you think of the profession 'Color Consultant', what comes to mind? Architectural interiors and exteriors? Hair coloring? Fashion stylist? But did you know that there is yet another subdivision of color consultants who deal exclusively with product colors? Maybe not as widely recognized, but oh so very intriguing.

At the San Francisco Design Center, I picked up their in house publication, 3D magazine. Thumbing through over-sized ads for carpets and sink fixtures, I stumbled upon an interview with Laura Guido-Clark, a well-known Product Color and Finish Consultant located right here in the Bay Area. Laura's work fascinates me, and when we first moved back to the Bay Area, I stalked her to meet me for coffee. Alas, she is one busy woman, and thus, I haven't had the chance to meet her yet. But I'll keep trying!

I thought I would share some excerpts from the article, "More than skin deep: an interview with Laura Guido-Clark".- 3D magazine

Ever wonder who selects the brilliant orange color for the carrot peeler you just simply had to have, even though you have a perfect decent silver one at home?  That would be Laura's job.
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Designing the "skins" of consumer products, ranging from textiles to automobiles, electronics, and household appliances, Laura has worked with quite a prestigious list of clientele, including The Gap, Apple, Toyota, Pantone, Godiva, Design Within Reach, and more. I love the diversity of projects with which she is involved.
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For example, Flor carpet tiles: With Laura's help, Flor has been able to expand beyond contract work into the much sought-after residential consumer market. "Barbie taught me to never be afraid of pink, it’s a neutral, and FLOR has taught me that being shaped like a box helps you think outside it,” Laura says playfully.(source)
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She has worked with the industrial design team at Kodak to develop a color language and finishes for many of their digital products, including the new Zi8 pocket camcorder.
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For Oral B's Cross Action toothbrush, the goal was to create a color scheme that communicated "clean" associated with brushing one's teeth, while injecting some fun into this boring daily ritual. Hm, fun toothbrushing? That may be pushing it...

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Laura sees the underlying value  and deeper meaning of everyday products. To explain the thought process and design objectives behind a Design Within Reach spring bedding line,  she explains "the bed is not just a part of the bedroom, but is a room unto itself. Life happens there. Whether it's a late night movie, working from home, or relaxing with the pets, the bed is one of the most important spaces in the home. Despite all this, the dressing of the bed hasn't been re-examined."(source)

Some thoughts from Laura on color that really struck a cord with me:

"I like thinking about the raw potential of a product, interior, color or material and what it can do to transform and inspire the human being who is interacting with it."

On process
"I have never looked at a color as something you just apply. There has to be an understanding of where it is going, what kind of environment it will exist in."

On trends
"It isn't that I don't believe in color trends. It is just that my business is based upon deeper meaning and giving my clients a longer lasting relevance. Trends have a place, typically with shorter cycles that come and go."

So the next time you're at the grocery store, or a department store... really, any type of store, take a second look at that product you're noticed.  The palette might just have been carefully selected by a color designer like Laura Guido Clark.

Click here to download entire article