Color runs like a red thread (pun intended) through your career and body of work. Is it a second language you recall having even as a child, or has it slowly developed into the vocabulary you have today?
I was born with the perceptual phenomenon synesthesia, in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory pathway. In my case, weekdays, numbers, names, sounds; everything connects to a color experience. So yes, I would probably say that color is a second language for me.
Most of us have a basic understanding of the effect of different colors; red makes us agitated, green is soothing, etc. Are there one or two deeper and more profound experiences on the impact of color you could share with us?
To understand the sensory impact of color, I would emphasize the two sets of contrast: light-dark and cold-warm. Light, dark, cold, and warm are like poles in the compass we use to sense our surroundings. While light colors have a dispersive effect, dark colors are contractive, weighty. Warm colors reach out and embrace us, while cold colors pull away from our bodies.
We mostly consider language as something verbal and spoken. But looking at nature, it’s quite evident that colors are a widely spoken language, from butterflies to birds and reptiles – the list is long. Is it a language that we humans once spoke but have somehow lost over time?
For some generations, color has been considered somewhat less refined than form and shape among many within architecture and design. After Mies van der Rohe and Less is More, the impact of color has been neglected as a language and not included if one wanted to be serious. But that’s rapidly changing. As I experience it, we are in the progress of re-connecting with colors, acknowledging them for their abilities to reach out to the senses and connect with both emotions and the nerve system.
Recently you have taken a more scientific approach to color, creating an equation that suggests that color is the fourth dimension of the cube (check out her Instagram feed). Can you share a few thoughts about how that idea arose?
Having worked professionally with color for the last 20 years, I often see an attitude towards colors as something feminine that primarily women deal with. Colors are often associated with emotions as something unstable and changing, whereas form is associated with the masculine and rational because it is measurable. With the work series ‘With Some Defined Measure,’ I try to move the sensory experience of colors over into the rational brain half by putting the effect of color on formula.
Favorite and least-happy-about color?
I don’t have a favorite color, nor a least-happy one, as all colors serve different purposes. But a color that has always attracted me is brown for its ability to make all other colors shine. I think of brown as the most social color in the palette, never outshining other colors. And least-happy about… I tend to find cold pinks and bright lime colors slightly overrated, especially when used in architecture.
The translation of colors, from idea to sketch, from computer screen to actual product, can be complicated and not least hopelessly tricky. What is your go-to media when starting a project and working to find the right colors?
When it comes to color, it is essential to work analogously and in the materials as early as possible in the process. It is almost impossible to foresee the quality of the color when working digitally. As the computer or tablet is backlit, colors tend to seduce the perception due to the light experience. It is very different when the color is transferred to the physical material or surface. I rarely work with colors digitally at all. Even when color setting, I work manually by sketching with crayons and looking at physical samples.
Now is your chance to educate us; is there something you would like us all to be (more) considerate about, in terms of colors?
I find it a common misconception that one is either good or bad at colors. Of course, some have more talent for working with color than others, but in general, color is something that one has to work on getting good at, just like drawing, cooking, playing an instrument, or anything else. So I would ask you to allow yourself to be curious and explore to develop your sense of color.
Tell us about the recent artwork you have made for Frameworks Gallery?
Black Squares (Tiefschwarz) dives into the physical material and is about color as a pigment in the fabric. As a textile designer, I used my knowledge of textile dyes and printing techniques to twist the pigment to the extreme and let nature create the motif. The motif is a black square on a white background. I omitted the thickening in the printing technique to lose control of the printing process. For me, the work’s beauty is that the motif arose because I let go of controlling the dye and allowing the dye, printing process, and material to take over as if the motif is the dye’s own will, illustrated by the repetition. The motif repeats in all three experiments with very subtle differences.