Wunderkammer of Color: Holiday 2010 Edition

Shinkansen by Tim Lisko, via Triangulation Blog.

Whoa! That decade flashed by in a hurry. Before 2010 draws to a close, here are a few more delectable color finds that are sure to blow your hair back.

Those gorgeous streaks above is the Japanese landscape at 150mph via bullet train by photographer Tim Lisko, whose steady eye and open-shutter technique renders the scenery as infinitely more than a muddy blur.

For a more meditative take on color mixing, I give you Lichtscheibe (Light Layers) by Swiss design firm Tät Tat. It’s color theory captured in a pinwheel you can attach with suction-cups to any sunny window. Simply rotate the layer of primary colors (red, blue and yellow) to render the secondary colors (orange, purple and green) and even subtler shades.

Lichtscheibe by Tät Tat, via SwissMiss

Year’s end spells a million summings-up of the old year and prognostications galore for the new one. You won’t be afflicted with too much Color Auld Lang Syne here, just one future-thinking color: Pantone’s 2011 Color of the Year, Honeysuckle.

After the blue-intensive streak in recent years – namely, Turquoise in 2010 and Blue Iris in 2008 – it’s refreshing to see a decidedly female color claim the title for a change. I’m not just rooting for the home team, mind you. I called 2010 the year of pink back in February with a Slate slideshow, Pink is for Battleships, about the contentious history of this highly politicized color — and how unladylike the color’s history actually has been.

Later that year my editor, Hanna Rosin, wrote a cover story for The Atlantic –  with the feather-ruffling title, The End of Men – about how the recession and other societal shifts have dealt women several key advantages. (Check out Hanna’s recent TED talk here.) The next decade is ours to seize, ladies. Honeysuckle pink reeks of power.

Speaking of Pantone, let me acquaint you with one of my favorite time-burning hobbies of 2010 (and likely beyond): collecting instances of new Pantone-branded products. They are vast and legion, authorized and not, encroaching on the marketplace like a stampede of mastodons in a cloud of killer bees and demon microbes, presumably wreathed with designer-rainbows. The meme seems unstoppable. I’m not sure if I’m cheering this trend on, or watching with awful fascination – but I’m watching, for sure.

The latest species to emerge from the fast-breeding muck of the Pantone Product genus: Pantone cases for iPhones and iPads (via Coudal). Olybop.info offers a fresh roundup of proliferating Pantone products (in French, but dig the pictures). To my knowledge, most of these products are legit (Pantone, Merchants of Color was the last time I checked). The newest crop — some of which are very likely fanciful knock-offs — include Pantone water, pencil cases, clip-on buttons, USB sticks, and bathroom slippers. Yes, really. Pantone is like Santa: everywhere at once, breeding economic stimulus and cheer, and watching you, via your bathroom slippers, when you’re sleeping and when you’re naked. (You never noticed Santa’s creepy side?)

I guarantee you’ll get some use out of this handy tool in 2010, at least, you’ll while away some nice hours in color-soaked Googling. Multicolr Search Lab (via BlackBook on Tumblr) lets you choose a palette of up to 10 hues from 120 basic hues. Then it scours the web with Google’s monster search technology to find images with that exact color palette. I know, I know: I’m thumping a vein in the crook of my elbow AND typing (somehow). Just like Google, the color matches are stunningly precise.

Next stage of evolution is obvious: enter a PMS or hex #, spit out reams and reams of exactly-matched images in your exactly-quantified color palette. Golly, life in the 21st century! I do like it.

During the holidays, the mind turns to two classic themes: Gifts and Those Less Fortunate. For a color fan, those Venn-diagram circles merge here: a clever iPhone app that helps colorblind folks. That’s right! For just $3, the DanKam app for iPhone (and Android) lets colorblind types sample colors from the world with their smart phone’s camera. The app then amps up the color contrasts to more accurately render the colors the rest of us see. No more bi-colored sock-matching or iffy housepaint choices — now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.

DanKam app for iPhone (and Android) via MentalFloss

For those of us not afflicted, you’ll still love this Ishihara video about the experience of being color-blind by Israeli designer Yoav Brill (apt last name on that guy).


Ishihara – English version
from Yoav Brill on Vimeo.

I found this video via Notcot and was oddly taken by it. Not only does this little movie show me what the intimate, highly subjective experience of color-blindness feels like, its mood is oddly reminiscent of the holiday season itself: lovely, floating, slightly confused, then slightly regretful, more alone than you’d expect but, mercifully, not as lonely as you initially think.

Here’s mud in your eye. I raise my glass of scintillating champagne glass to you, color-fans. Meet me back here in 2011 for more brilliance — of color and commentary, hopefully. Chin-chin!

champagne by skip2molou on Flickr

(P.S. if you’re stuck for a killer holiday gift, this is me solving that problem: buy some Respect Sextet music or merch. My buddy Josh Rutner blows the best damn jazz saxophone the web-enabled world has ever heard, plus he’s a diligent and clever bastard who provides me with many great color links. A hilarious 2011 to you, sir!)

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Color & Design, Imprint: Print Magazine's Design Blog, Jude Stewart

About Jude Stewart

Jude Stewart is a PRINT contributing editor. She has written on design and culture for Slate, Fast Company, The Believer, I.D., Metropolis, and Design Observer, among many others. She has authored two books, both published by Bloomsbury: ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color (2013) and Patternalia: An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage and Other Graphic Patterns (2015). Follow her tweets on color at twitter.com/joodstew.

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