Color Study,  History

The Intoxicating, Provocative World of Color

One might say our world was birthed in color, saturated with it, embellished by it.  It’s part of the DNA of the planet arriving to us by frequencies.  Color excites, or it calms.  It stimulates our appetite and warms our mood.  We have sought just the right color by crushing insects and mollusks to produce crimson and purple.  Green plants have revealed their secret of the perfect blue after being fermented through stages of yellow, then green,  then blue into deep sensuous indigo.  Precious lapis lazuli stones carried thousands of miles have arrived at their destination to be crushed into pigment and painted onto canvas.

Egyptian mummies of dead people and cats came under the alchemists crushing tools to formulate a perfect brown.  On and on the quest for the perfect color was been pursued to simulate what was already seen around us.  Humans apparently were not disposed to simply enjoy looking at their environments and enjoying the sights.  No, they wanted to be the creators and capture the beauty with their own hands.

The history and obsession with creating/possessing color have been the subject of many books.  It’s an ongoing fascination and worth being studied by those in the design fields.  Two books have hit the printing presses lately that should be in our libraries.  The first one is  The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair.  After reading letters and diaries from the 18th century for her research into masquerade fashion, she became fascinated with what the clothing was all about and the colors used.  Many of the colors she had never heard of before.  Soon the author narrowed the histories of 75 colors and how they influenced history.  Colors were difficult to pin down due to the overlapping re-naming of pigments and their ephemeral character.   St. Clair also points out the attitudes that developed over time due to colors influence.  For instance, think of white – associated with whitewash – associated with cleaning and sanitizing due to plague – finally being expressed as an aspect of a higher moral character.  It’s a book hard to put down and will add another layer to the knowledge that is one of design’s major tools.

Lori Weitzner can owe part of her success to a professor who guided her away from fine art and painting and into the world of textile design.  The other part of her success was all up to her talent and innovation, moving seamlessly from textile to product design.  Her work is featured in museums across the globe and in the collections of top brand names like Barney’s New York, Carnegie, Calvin Klein and Tiffany’s.  When you arrive at the page on her site from this link, you are invited to be guided into a  style of living that may best suit you out of ten different color worlds by answering a survey of your preferences.  The end result could help you arrive at an environment meant to nourish and have a positive impact on your enjoyment of your spaces.  The quiz has 18 questions and I was surprised by the result.  It’s something I will have to think about.  Don’t forget to enter a monthly giveaway of her book at the end.  This is a definite read from one of the most innovative minds in the design industry.


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