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The Interior Design Reference & Specification Book by Mimi Love, Chris Grimley, Linda O'Shea

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THE INTERIOR DESIGN REFERENCE + SPECIFICATION BOOK
Chapter 9: Color
Color remains one of the most challenging and contentious aspects of interior
design. As the painter and color theorist Josef Albers noted, “colors present them-
selves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbors and changing
conditions.
The application and mixing of color has long been an intense area of study for sci-
entists, artists, and designers. At the same time, color can be an extremely subjec-
tive topic: Everyone has their favorite colorscolors that remind them of a place
or time, or that have specific emotive qualities. The role of color in interior design
resists dissemination into simple rules and ideas, and yet understanding the com-
plexities of using color in a space is fundamental to creating a successful interior.
Thus, interior designers must learn the characteristics of color and how it can act
as a focusing and organizing agent.
FUNDAMENTALS OF COLOR
Color, fundamentally, is the result of the way in which an object absorbs or reflects the visible
light in the color spectrum. An object that the eye perceives as red absorbs every color except
red, which it reflects. White is often described as the reflection of all colors, while black is
described as the absorption of all colors.
Additive and Subtractive Color Mixing
To think about color relative to light and its effect leads to a discussion of how color mixes,
either in additive or subtractive systems. Light that is emitted to create color is often referred
to as additive. Combinations of red, green, and blue primary colors produce other colors; all
three combined produces white. Using this color mix are monitors of all kinds, from computer
screens to television sets to flat-panel display systems. Subtractive color mixing exists in
two forms: combinations of cyan, magenta, and yellow and combinations of red, yellow, and
blue. In these systems, the base colors are added to each other on an opaque medium such
as paper, and their mixing changes the way colors are absorbed and reflected. CMY provides
the model for the printing industry, and RYB is the model for both fine art training and color
theory.
Seeing Color
Color is a physical phenomenon,
and the range of colors stretches
far beyond what the human eye
is capable of perceiving. At either
end of the visible spectrum of light
are the imperceptible infrared and
ultraviolet lights. In between is
“human color space.” This model
is best observed when light is
refracted in a prism and the eye
identifies the resultant color wave-
lengths—whose number is consid-
ered to be around
10 million—as
a rainbow.
infrared
ultraviolet
THEORIES OF COLOR
Many attempts have been made to establish methodologies to evaluate the advantages of
certain color combinations. Very early on, color wheels or color spheres were engaged to visu-
ally communicate the associations and range of colors, and their relationships to each other.
In his
blue, indigo, violet, and redarranged on a disk in proportionate slices such that the spinning
of the disk would result in the color white. Newton’s objectification of color into a mathemati-
cally understandable system allowed for quantifiable experimentation.
Additive Color
Starting from the primary group of
red, green, and blue, an additive
color model occurs when colored
lights overlap and mix to produce
a visible spectrum. The mixing of
the primaries results in the color
white.
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#175 Dtp:216 Page:136
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