hey, eric here with 30 by 40 design workshoptalking about how architects think about and use color in our work, and it's more thanjust about aesthetics. be sure to stick around at the end for allthe tools resources and apps i'm using in my practice. before we get too far into it i'm sort ofpresuming you have a basic working knowledge of the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors,and that you know the difference between warm and cool tones. if not, there's a link in the cards that willbring you up to speed. now, building on that we have hue saturationand value.
think of hue as the color, saturation howintense the color is, and value as how light or dark it is. to build out a full complement of colors forus to use from the three primary colors we add: tints, which are created by adding whiteto a given hue, shades which are made by adding black, and tones by adding gray, which isessentially differing amounts of black and white. when you're thinking about color choices,understand that the value - remember how light or dark it is - influences the amount of lightit will reflect back into a space. a white wall will reflect a little over 80%of the light that hits it, while a dark wall
might reflect less than 10% of the light hittingit. now, there's many different combinations ofcolors based on their location and relationship on the color wheel and it's probably goodto familiarize yourself with them, in practice though, i don't start by choosing a colorscheme. i always somehow land on either a monochromatic,neutral, achromatic, or analogous color scheme, but it's not an intentional practice, it'smore organic. but, these can be excellent starting pointsfor any novice working with color. using tints, tones, and shades of the samehue, it's pretty hard to go wrong there. study the architecture you think is most successfuland i'll guarantee there's a thoughtful and
obvious approach to material and color beingemployed. to construct computer models of clay, or studymodels of brown corrugated and white museum board - as we're taught to do in school - simplydenies this really important layer of color meaning. your first step though isn't digging intoyour sherwin-williams binder and grabbing an off-white, three grays, and a red to testout. step one in color design is to recall thebuilding concept. what's the goal? what are you trying to do?
the concept unifies everything, you're kindof lost without it. so, i start by asking: â€œwhat's the storyi'm trying to tell?â€ now, the story can be about the place, orthe client, or the occupants, or about the geometry, about natural light, or separation,or circulation, about openness, or seclusion, or a journey from light to dark, anythingyou choose. for me, i like to have an image to lean on- abstract or not - to use as a reminder of this goal. often it's from the site or a nearby locationand i'll use it to draw color ideas from. but, more on this later.
indigenous materials have always been thefirst materials used to create our architecture. it's no surprise we grabbed the ones we hadnearby first. look at the city of siena in italy. the namesake for the color siena was derivedfrom the hue of the terrain there; it was the same clay they used to make their tileroofs and their bricks. there's a reason behind the color of the architecturethere and it's linked to the materials they chose to build with. as an architect, this is the kind of authenticityi'm always seeking. by contrast, invented or applied colors, likepaint, were - at least historically - a luxury.
only those with means could afford paint. the decision to paint a house, while it wasintentional, was reserved for the wealthy and was actually used to distinguish theirarchitecture from those of lesser means. now, that doesn't mean i don't use paint,i certainly do, and it doesn't have the same implications today that it once did, but it'snot where i begin thinking about color. where i begin is by asking how the materialsi'm using can help to convey the story i'm telling more convincingly. whenever possible i like to begin buildinga color palette using natural materials as the foundation.
and, the benefit of this kind of color schemeis that rather than being monochromatic, they quite often exhibit a complex group of tonesand shades and these provide a depth to our spaces thatâ€™s difficult to achieve withpaint. one of the hacks i use to build color palettesfor a given project is to pull them from photographs of the surrounding site. key images aren't only useful for presentingyour ideas to clients and setting the stage, they can help portray emotion. most clients have difficulty imagining smallsample colors or a material swatch writ large in a room for example.
now, of course rendering and vr technologiesare quickly changing that but short of those we can use imagery to imply relative balanceof color in a space or convince someone your idea has merit. i can promise you that clients rely on images,in part, for assurance that they're not the first ones to sign up for a seemingly quirkyarchitectural color agenda. key images can help you minimize or emphasizea building's impact by matching or contrasting the tones of the surrounding context. context color will change your perceptiontoo. placing a light color near a dark one forcesus to perceive each as being more of what
they already are: darker or lighter. this is known as simultaneous contrast. color is a tool we can use, just like form,and we can emphasize certain intents, to expand the sense of space using lighter colors, orto diminish it using darker ones. and, importantly, we can use it to distinguishbetween building systems: structure, doors and windows, circulation, service versus served,horizontal surfaces, or ones that we touch often. dividing the architecture into systems isan easy way to sort out all the decisions you'll need to make.
i like to start with the floors and the wallsbecause they have a lot of visual weight in our spaces and our natural light will be reflectedoff these surfaces, but you can start almost anywhere. architects have very different concerns whenit comes to color than artists or graphic designers do. because quite often our colors come from thematerials we choose to build with their texture and their reflectance causes us to perceivetheir color as different depending on the light that's illuminating them. light is married to our perception of color.
to understand this without getting too farinto the weeds about visible wavelengths and electromagnetic radiation, you need to knowthat all light has a color temperature and it's expressed in degrees kelvin. if you've been shopping for light bulbs youmight have noticed that they're classed as warm white, cool white, or daylight balanced. they also all have a degree kelvin numberon the packaging too. the color temperature of visible light rangesfrom what we perceive as very warm - say candlelight - which is around 1500 kelvin or a 40-wattincandescent bulb at 2700 kelvin, all the way up to a cloudless sky at 15,000 kelvin.
somewhat counter-intuitively, the higher thenumber in kelvin the cooler the light as we perceive it. so, sunrise and sunset are actually quitewarm at 3200 kelvin, as we get to noon, the whiter light of the sun is around 5500 k,that's usually the temperature of a daylight balanced bulb, and then there's the even morediffuse and cooler feeling of an overcast sky at 6500 kelvin. so, what does all this mean to you the designer? well, first the colors you select will bechanged by the kind of light illuminating it - whether that's natural or artificial- and equally by the exposure of the interior
rooms, which direction they receive theirnatural light from. in the northern hemisphere, north-facing roomsreceive a whiter, more even light, as they're illuminated by light reflected from the skydome which has a higher temperature in kelvin. and, that's whiter light than say a west-facingroom where the setting sun is warmer. rooms that receive a lot of daylight willchange throughout the day and it all changes again in the evening when we use only artificiallight. if you were to paint two rooms with differentexposures the same color white they would each look different. we talked about hue and lightness earlierand that comes into play here.
a surfaceâ€™s lightness determines how muchof the light hitting it is reflected back into the space. if you're designing for a high latitude, forexample, you'll probably want to use lighter colors to compensate for the lower sun anglesand diminished intensity. because lighter colors reflect more lightthey'll also impart more of their hue on the reflected light in our space. as a general rule, painting a room one colorwill increase how saturated you perceive that color to be because the reflected light iscolored by the surface amplifying it. reflection can be used in other ways too.
a recent renovation project of mine was fora classic structure here in maine designed by george howe. the living space is cantilevered out overthe ocean and he did this really clever thing, he painted all the ceilings inside this verylight shade of blue in a really glossy finish and the effect was to amplify the reflectedlight off the water creating a blue colored light reaching the entire interior of thehouse. now, absorption of darker materials can equallybe used to balance and control contrast. here in the studio, the darker floor and tallwainscoting helps tame the midday sun entering the skylights and the six months of the yearwhere snow is covering the ground outside.
had the floor or walls been lighter in tonethe reflections would have made working in here more difficult. light and color impacts how we feel in a space,how large or small it feels, how we find our way, and can even modify our behavior affectingmental acuity, focus, and alertness. now, there are only a few very universal emotionalcolor associations. for example, red for stop or green for go. and, there are a great many more culturalones: blue for boys, pink for girls. and, nearly infinite personal ones. my childhood bedroom was completely blue:blue furniture, blue carpeting, blue walls,
ceiling, bedding, and drapery, and i don'tknow if that's to blame, but as an adult i really can't stand the color blue. you're probably aware of, or have read aboutassociations like: red is passionate or energetic, yellow is cheerful, or green and blue aretranquil. but, these are subject to an enormous variationdepending on your client or end-userâ€™s personal or cultural associations. white has very different meanings in westernculture than it does in eastern cultures for example. although much of this research is subjectto personal interpretation there is a body
of color research out there that proves someof the more common ideas you're probably familiar with, things like lighter colors expand spaceand darker ones contract it. nasa, the us space agency, has done extensiveresearch with respect to colorsâ€™ impact on space environments so, if you want to takea really deep dive on this check out the video linked in the cards, it's actually reallyinteresting. boring, right? that's the point. neutrals are naturally harmonious and don'tdemand attention like brighter hues might. we tend to tire of bold, highly saturatedhues over time while neutrals, because they're
not dominant, tend to have longer stayingpower. neutral color schemes allow interior objectsto assume a more dominant role. think about a museum's interior palette, mostoften they're rendered in a neutral scheme, especially in the galleries, to let the artworktake prominence. a neutral color palette allows me to highlightforms and structure, shadows are read easily on lighter tones, while darker tones willtend to recede. so, they allow me to highlight objects andpersonal effects in residential architecture over, a brightly colored wall, let's say. they interact with daylight and candlelightin very predictable ways, and they're always
subtly changing, with the objects inside,with the changing light of the seasons; they rarely look the same. so, for me, neutral palettes allow the architectureto function as a container for the context, its occupants, objects, and just life. okay, now for some of the key tools i usewhen i'm building color palettes. for my key images i'm often just using thecamera on my phone and editing the images in lightroom or snapseed. the apps i like for choosing color palettesare: the pinterest app, where i can curate different boards of key images, sample materials,color schemes, fabrics, paint color chips,
and i can share these with my clients or aremote project team. i also like the pantone app and adobe capturecc, for building color palettes from photos especially ones i want to bring into photoshop. the augmented reality in the sunseeker appwill help you determine how natural light will impact your color selections. also, i really like this little bi-coloredled light panel for testing color perception at 5500 k and 3200 k lighting scenarios. it's portable, and it's actually great formodel photography too. the sherwin-williams app, color snap or thecomparable ben moore color capture allows
you to build a palette of their colors rightfrom a photo or even a pinterest pin. also included are paint calculators, the abilityto save a palette, and scan color numbers and see them in rooms. having paint chips and physical samples onhand are always helpful. in addition to my rolling cart sample library,i'm a fan of sherwin-williams architectâ€™s sample kit which has more color swatches withtricky names than you ever knew existed. you might also grab a fan deck from behr andbenjamin moore too if you prefer those brands. and then there's the beautifully neutral colorschemes from farrow & ball. now, if they won't send you this stuff forfree - and they should - head to a hardware
store and help yourself. the coated samples are really great for modelmaking by the way. remodelista has a number of architecture paintpalette posts for you to browse online, or you might consider their book. ilse crawford is a fantastically gifted, interiordesigner, she has a book called a frame for life, and if you haven't read my perennialfavorite, thinking architecture by peter zumthor, it's basically required reading. then there's the classic, in praise of shadows;also check out graphic design and typography books they have just beautiful color schemes.
there's pantone sourcebooks, and i also liketo look outside of our profession - there's alinea by grant achatz, i use maps for inspiration,magazines like dwell and wallpaper and even catalogs from cb2 or online ones from huckberry. now, these are style guides, i know, but theyoften have all these coordinating accessories of life that can inspire your color palette. i'll include a few videos in a playlist andlink those up in the description too. now, if i've helped you at all with this videodo me a favor and smash that like button below. also, i'm planning to do a quick-fire q&asoon so, if you post your questions in the comments or up-vote your favorites, i'll tryto answer them in a future video.
all of you who stick around to the end here,you get yours answered first. thanks as always for coming back here eachweek to watch the video, appreciate you guys! i'll see you again next week, cheers!