“Design”, opined textile designer Bernat Klein in 1976, “means to enjoy the exploration of new possibilities. It means to take pleasure in finding new solutions to old problems; or to have fun juggling with a number of old solutions until they suddenly click and coalesce into one, beautiful, new solution”.1
With the exhibtion Bernat Klein. Design in Colour the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, allow insights into how Klein explored, discovered and juggled. And the new possibilities and new solutions that thereby arose…….
Amongst the many developments that have influenced and informed the path of furniture and interior design in the past 120ish years one must, without question, count developments in context of colour.
Whereas in previous centuries colours were limited in their availability, range and durability, recent decades have seen not only progress in that availability, range and durability, and as such ever more possibilities in our use of colour, but also seen increasing study of psychology and colour and of developments in understandings of human perception of colour, ever increasing appreciations of how colours exist beyond the physical and chemical. And an ever increasing use of colour in marketing, a creeping commercialisation of colour.
With the installation Colour Rush! Rotterdam based designer Sabine Marcelis transforms the Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot into a space for differentiated considerations on colour and our furniture and interiors, on the colours of our furniture and interiors. And in doing so also allows for some fresh insights not only into the Vitra Design Museum collection, but what that collection can teach us all about furniture and interior design over the past 120ish years…….
“It is possible to live without taking colours in daily life seriously just as it is possible to live and to ignore music, sculpture and other arts” opines the textile designer Bernat Klein in his 1965 book Eye for Colour, and thereby not only freely equating colour with other cultural goods but also very neatly setting up the refutal, “no one will doubt, however, that life will be fuller and richer if colours are daily absorbed, handled and savoured as they can and should be”.1
Eye for Colour is both an introduction to how Bernat Klein arrived at such a position, and an argument in support of its validity…….
“Green is beautiful” proclaims an anonymous youth, an anonymous youth blind since birth, from Sophie Calle’s 1986 photography project The Blind, “because every time I like something, I’m told it’s green. Grass is green, trees, leaves, nature too… I like to dress in green”.
An indication, a confirmation, that even for those who have never seen colour, colour can awaken associations, stir emotions, have agency on the human being.
With the exhibition Color as Program. Part One the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, explore colour beyond its physical reality, and in doing so allow for differentiated insights and perspectives into and on our relationships with colour, with colours.
Our relationships with colour are invariably shaped and informed by the culture and society in which we were raised. A state of affairs that, equally invariably, leads to us all possessing relatively strictly defined understandings of colour, understandings of the psychology of colours or of the agency of colours or of the use of colours.
With the exhibition Green Sky, Blue Grass. Colour Coding Worlds, the Weltkulturen Museum Frankfurt discuss the cultural relevance and social functions of colour in various and varied contexts and in doing so extend an invitation to expand our relationships with colour, and the world(s) they code…….
One could be forgiven for thinking that little would be as pointless as a Le Corbusier colouring-in book.
So singularly achromatic is the popular understanding of Le Corbusier, a lack of colour reinforced by the dour, austere, round bespectacled, persona which so universally defines Le Corbusier: what, one asks oneself, could there possibly be to colour in a Le Corbusier colouring-in book?
Yet in contrast to the popular Le Corbusier image, Le Corbusier’s career was one undertaken in colour. A career accompanied by, informed by, arguably driven by, considerations on and the study of colour.
An (oft overlooked) aspect of his work, of his understandings and approaches, and persona, explored in the exhibition Le Corbusier and Color at the, appropriately kaleidoscopic, Pavillon Le Corbusier, Zürich.
“Space and form are important elements in the creation of the [interior] environment”, opined the Danish architect, artist and designer Verner Panton in 1969, however, he continues, “colours are even more important”.
And no-one, even those with but the briefest familiarity with Verner Panton, can oversee the colour in Verner Panton’s work.
Yet important as colour and space and form were for Panton, “in the creation of the [interior] environment”, “l’homme reste l’élément central“, man remains the central element.1
With the exhibition Verner Panton – Colouring a New World, Trapholt, Kolding, undertake a search for the human in the colourful new world of Verner Panton.
“We must endeavour to introduce a little order into this business, or at least sense into a great deal of it. But what is sense without order? We must try to find some method of arriving at some sort of order – one that will at least enable us to escape from this vagueness in the design of colour”, opined Amédée Ozenfant in 1937.1
And had an idea or two as to the how…….
As the title of Hella Jongerius’s 2016 book I don’t have a favourite colour succinctly explains, Hella Jongerius doesn’t have a favourite colour.
Not that Hella Jongerius is indifferent about colours.
Far from it.
And in explaining why colours are important to her, and why she doesn’t have a favourite colour, Hella Jongerius helps one approach a better understanding not only of colours, nor only of our relationships with and to colours, but also helps one approach a better understanding of the functionalities of colour…….
“One sits more comfortably on a colour that one likes” declares Verner Panton in his 1997 book Lidt om Farver/Notes on Colour.1
A succinct expression of an understanding of colour as more than just a decorative element, and one of many reflections on the function and relevance of colour beyond the merely decorative which, in a myriad guises, pervade the history of furniture and product design.
And contrasting, if at times complementary, reflections, pun intended, we will consider in the coming weeks and months via a selection of texts and pronouncements from a contrasting, if at times complementary, collection of international creatives. And while not all the sources considered represent theories in a classic understanding of the term, and certainly not colour theory in a classic understanding; in representing the respective creative’s understandings of the relationships between colour and form, colour and function, colour and user, colour and artistry, etc, can be considered as contributions to the development of a more formal design.colour.theory..
We start with Verner Panton and Lidt om Farver/Notes on Colour……