For my color theory class final, we were asked to, well, play around with a lot of color!
The instructor presented us with two grayscale interior perspectives, and we were to create several experiments and then chose a final color scheme that we found to be most successful based on the program requirements (the project specifications and what the client asks for), Johannes Itten’s color theory (a definitive twentieth century color theorist), and Light Reflective Value (LRV) which is a standardized numerical system that qualifies the amount of light a certain color and/or surface material will reflect.
Program requirements are of course, highly important. Gotta give the client what they want! And, as a designer, one must make sure the intended plans will genuinely serve the space and the people using it aesthetically and functionally.
Itten’s elaboration on the behaviors and relationships of hues is tremendous. The way he writes could effectively communicate color to a blind person. I couldn’t believe how few images of color actually accompany his writing. At first I was discouraged. But as I actually started reading, I realized that Itten’s style of communication, and I think, especially, his intimate knowledge of color, allowed for a crystaline representation of color theory through literal language. The few, carefully placed diagrams and colors wheels were quite necessary, but only at specific intervals.
In any case, Itten talks about seven points of contrast between colors. He identifies things like the type of contrast that results from the combination of pure hues, as well as how carefully moderated contrast can create depth in a space not otherwise accessible. He articulated the process by which colors influence one another, chameleon like, depending on what colors are neighbors at the moment. Itten also argued that color is so dynamic and influential in a space that it can - should - be used as a primary design element in such a way that the color choses its place in the room, rather than certain walls, floors and furniture taking on various hues after the fact.
All of these theories, and others not mentioned here, of course, relate to how a designer uses color within a space. It is at these deeper levels of thought that the color within a given space can begin to bring life to users, and the room itself. Like I said: tremendous. And, yes, sometimes rather esoteric.
Lastly, LRV is something that may seem a bit tangential or over-thought. In fact, choosing colors that reflect light appropriately to the space is an ergonomic and sustainability related consideration. The color in a space that does not reflect enough light, contributing to a room that is too dim, will strain the eyes of users, thus require more artificial lighting, and become a burden to the owner’s pocketbook and the planet’s resources. Similarly, a room that is too bright and reflects back much of the bright, south-facing light entering the room, for example, will cause discomfort for users, and further renovations will likely be needed - like, the installation of additional blinds, or a complete re-do of the interior colors and surfaces. For most families and businesses, the initial renovation or build is enough of a strain on financial resources to have errors in bad lighting come along.
Within all of these elements lay our challenge, we students of interior design color theory. Truth be told, I loved this assignment; responding to logistical limitations, while creating a beautiful, functional space, is exactly what I love about design.
Anyway. On with it!
We were to come up with several color options for a “Sunset Hotel”, and a “Family Cottage.” Here they are!
The hotel lobby had diffuse north-facing light, a beautiful view of a body of water below it’s 20th story windows that needed to be the focal point, a strong blue reflection in the light entering the room, and a great scenic mural on one wall.
The first one was my final submission!
THE FAMILY COTTAGE
The Family Cottage was a small home for four, two adults, two kids, as well as a pet dog. The house is placed on a large meadow from which a great deal of light enters the room. This combined kitchen, dining and living room is where all the action happens for this family.
The first one was my final submission here, too! Though, I liked a lot of the options for my Family Cottage color scheme. :)