Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Color Coded World

"Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions." --Pablo Picasso

On my way to work today I had a very interesting realization. As all creatures in this planet was starting a fresh day I was amazed to find how distinctly color coded is our world. As a kid I remember one of the lessons they taught us that color coding is one of the ways of sending signal to others in the animal kingdom. We were then told about red being associated with danger and subsequently our knowledge was updated with the explanation that red could be viewed from the farthest distance because of its wave length. That is why red is used for traffic signal and all other danger notice. Similarly we see water tankers of different colors eg blue, green, orange, yellow each carrying a different category of payload. If you hit the orange one you know that you have hit the SHIT!
But we seem to have adopted this very well in our everyday life. While every one is free to choose and wear any color at a party, it is not quite the same at work. That is why we came with terms like "blue collar" jobs and "white collar" jobs. We even see differentiation being made in the color of the helmet one wears. It is quite interesting to note how Priests, doctors and politicians have reserved the white color for themselves.
But the significance of color goes much deeper than this. Effective Graphic Design relies on the considered interaction of various elements to convey a message or emotion.Composition, imagery, color and font are just some of the elements that can affect the way that a message is perceived by the viewers. People make very quick assumptions based on visual cues and these cues can be used to reinforce or alter the way that a written message is understood.Color can have a strong emotional effect on a viewer. Nature uses color to transmit a range of different messages and Graphic Designers also select different colors hues to evoke subconscious reactions from their audience.

Present day Significance of colors:
Red is the color of love. It is the most emotionally intense color. It is a very stimulating color that can invoke feelings of excitement and confidence amongst the viewers. Being the color of blood, it is sometimes culturally regarded as the color of life and is seen as a lucky color in China.Traditionally red symbolized courage and bravery and the color is often paired with black for a very strong result that has instant visual impact. Eveready and Coca Cola is probably the best known proponent of the use of red in their branding while YouTube is a new entrant to take advantage of Red.
Orange is often used in the business world to symbolise good value for money. Graphic Designers prefer to use this color while producing designs for value products. Probably this is the reason why Google's free Blogger service uses a strong orange colored logo.
Yellow enhances concentration and speeds up metabolism. But it is believed that people lose their tempers more often in yellow color rooms and it is the most difficult color for the eye to take in.
Green is considered as the color for healing. This color usually relaxes patients. Hence hospitals and clinics often use this color in their uniforms and furnishing. It is a refreshing and soothing color and is believed to improve vision and it is advised to look out towards greenery to relax our eyes in between work.
Blue is believed to relax the body, so it is often used in bed rooms. It symbolizes loyalty, hence wearing blue is recommended by experts for interviews. Studies show that weight-lifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms. This is because people are more productive in blue rooms. Blue in a range of tones nowadays is widely seen as the corporate color as it convey stability and is generally consider to be without any cultural bias. Examples are AT & T, IBM (nicknamed 'Big Blue'), Microsoft and Pepsico.
Black is the color of authority. It implies submission and probably the reason why priests wear black to signify submission to God. Black dress makes people appear thinner for which it became popular color in fashion and is widely worn by film personalities. Black is also used to symbolize death and destruction.
White color symbolizes peace. Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity and it is also considered as good luck to be married in white clothes. Doctors and nurses wear white to symbolize sterility. The nuns wear this to symbolize purity.
Pink is a very feminine color. The female of our species have a great affinity to pink. A quick tour of the blog spaces will provide enough proof of this. Mattel's Barbie doll's branding could not have got any more pink.
Purple embodies the balance of red simulation and blue calm. This dichotomy can cause unrest or uneasiness unless the undertone is clearly defined at which point the purple takes on the characteristics of its undertone. A sense of mysticism and possess royal qualities like; Uplifting, Calming to mind and nerves, Offers a sense of spirituality. Purple is a color often well liked by very creative or eccentric types of people. It is generally the favorite color of adolescent girls.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Architecture You Can Sit On

One of the most common pieces of furniture that we use in our everyday life is a Chair. How many times so we try and find out how this chair came into existence. Some of the most sought after chair design has been designed by famous architects. Usually we associate architect with building design and we always try and distinguish the interiors designed by architects with that designed by Interior designers. Some tend to argue that Architects are very rigid and lack imagination when it comes to designing interior space. On the other hand architects themselves consider interior design as mere of decoration. Following are a few of the chairs designed by some of the greatest architects of our times.

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that "Every chair must be designed for the building it will be in."
This "Barrel Chair" made of natural cheery wood with an upholstered leather seat was designed in 1937 for Herbert Johnson's house and apparently was a rework on a design he created in 1904. Wright saw the chair as an architectural challenge and used tall straight chairs as screens around tables. Unlike many of his contemporary stalwarts, Wright believed that machines could actually enhance the designs.

The Taliesin armchair 1949 by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Barrel Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Hill House Chair was designed in 1902-1903 by the Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the publisher W.W. Blackie. Originally painted white, this high, narrow Hill House chair was meant to be decorative - not to be actually sat on. The original still resides in the bedroom of the Hill House in Helensburgh.

The Hill House Chair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Modernists believed that the shape of furniture should be determined by its function and by the materials used. They stripped furniture down to its basic elements, using a minimum of parts and eschewing ornamentation of any kind. Even color is avoided. Made of metal and other high tech materials, Modernist furniture is black, white, and gray.

The Barcelona chair by was designed by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona. Leather straps were used to suspend leather-covered cushions from chrome plated steel frame. The Barcelona chair was a custom design created for the King and Queen of Spain. This was used as an artistic statement to illustrate how negative space could be used to transform a functional item to a sculptural object. "A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous." --Mies van der Rohe quoted in Time magazine, February 18, 1957.

The Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe 1919

Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was a popular Modernist during 1920s and 1930s. Trained as an architect, Gray opened a design workshop in Paris, where she created carpets, wall hangings, screens, and enormously popular lacquer work. She also exhibited several architectural projects at Le Corbusier's "Pavillion des Temps Nouveaux" in 1937. The Nonconformist Chair by Eileen Gray has only one armrest. It is designed to accommodate the owner's favorite resting position. Today, she is recognized as one of the finest designers and architects of her day and pieces like the Eileen Gray Table have become icons of modern design. Also displayed is the Bibendum armchair (1927).

The Bibendum armchair (1927) by Eileen Gray

The Nonconformist Chair by Eileen Gray

ARNE JACOBSEN (1902-1971) was one of Denmark's most influential 20th century architects and designers. Both his buildings and products, like his Swan and Egg Chairs, combine modernist ideals with a Nordic love of naturalism.

Swan Chair Arne Jacobsen

Egg Chair Arne Jacobsen

The Modernists rebelled against the concept of furniture that was merely decorative and created sleek, impersonal furniture that was designed to fit in many situations. Technology was a key for these followers of the Bauhaus School and saw the machine as an extension of the hand. His furnitures were designed to support industrial production. Here is the "Tulip Chair" designed in 1956 by the Finnish-born architect, Eero Saarinen. Made of fiberglass-reinforced resin, the seat of the Tulip Chair rests on a single leg. Also displayed is the Womb Chair.

The Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen

The most important Finnish architect of the 20th century, ALVAR AALTO (1898-1976) was a central figure in international modernism. His greatest buildings, like the 1927 Viipuri Library and 1928 Paimio Sanatorium, fused the naturalism of Finnish romanticism with modernist ideals: as did his influential furniture and glassware.

Alvar Alto Paimio 1933

Combining playful forms and experiments with advanced technologies, RON ARAD (1951-) has emerged as one of the most influential designers of our time. Born in Tel Aviv, he moved to London in 1973 to study architecture and made his name in the early 1980s as a self-taught designer-maker of sculptural furniture. He now works across both design and architecture.Consistently inventive and challenging, Ron Arad has studiously avoided categorization by curators and critics throughout his career.

Rover Chair - Ron Arad

Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria, under Art Nouveau architect Otto Wagner, whose theories of functional, modern architecture profoundly influenced his works, and in 1896 he joined his office. Kubus Arm Chair of 1910 is one of the prize collections for its proud owners.

Kubus Arm Chair by Josef Hoffmann 1910

In the Red Blue Chair, Gerrit Rietveld manipulated rectilinear volumes and examined the interaction of vertical and horizontal planes, much as he did in his architecture. Although the chair was originally designed in 1918, its color scheme of primary colors (red, yellow, blue) plus black—so closely associated with the de Stijl group and its most famous theorist and practitioner Piet Mondrian—was applied to it around 1923. Hoping that much of his furniture would eventually be mass-produced rather than handcrafted, Rietveld aimed for simplicity in construction. The pieces of wood that comprise the Red Blue Chair are in the standard lumber sizes readily available at the time.

The Red Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld 1918

Le Corbusier was born in 1887 in the Swiss town of La-Chaux-de-Fonds, located within a few kilometers of the French border. He attended school in his home town where he studied the visual arts and architecture. In 1910, he landed a job working in Germany in the office of Peter Behrens where he may have met Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Unlike his problematic theories for urban planning, Le Corbusier's designer furniture is still very much admired by collectors of modern and Bauhaus seating.

Seating designs by Le Corbusier
Following are a few more which I could not stop myself from mentioning.

Wassily lounge chair (1925) by Marcel Breuer

Peter Eisenman Chair

zaha hadid cirrus seat2

The coconut chair 1956 by George Nelson

Laurinda Spear Trelleaf bench