Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/exhibitions/1108750009/

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

Color is an illusion, but not an unfounded illusion. —C.L. Hardin, Color for Philosophers, 1988. Color shouts or whispers to us from every corner of our world, saturates nearly every surface we touch. An objective, quantifiable event, color is also a subjective personal experience, different for every person and deeply intertwined with language and memory. Color perception is an elusive, complex phenomenon that is still not fully understood, despite centuries of research by artists and designers, scientists and philosophers. Yet designers deploy color everyday, across an incredibly wide array of media. Used effectively, color helps us to navigate our physical world, organize and ingest information, and make decisions as consumers. Saturated brings together extraordinary rare books from Smithsonian Libraries and compellingly colorful objects from Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection to explore how the sensory experience of color has been conceived by history's greatest color thinkers, visualized with graphic tools and models, and used by designers to bring both order and excitement to our visual world.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18433055/

  • oil paint on composition board
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • spectrum

While living in Paris before World War II, writer, philosopher, jazz musician, WPA artist, and color theorist Hilaire Hiler associated with avant-garde artists like Marcel Duchamp, Constantin Brancusi and Man Ray. Inspired by Ostwald’s color system, he worked to design a color system for painters. His wheel includes 30 hues, plus tints, tones, and shades (created by adding white, gray, and black). A rotating disk in the center identifies complementary colors and certain harmonies.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18198991/

  • brush and oil, graphite on paperboard
  • Gift of Louis P. Church
  • light
  • landscape
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • rainbow
  • gradient

Water droplets behave much in the same way as Newton’s prism, splitting white light from the sun into its component colors to form the rainbow. It is easy to imagine that this spectacular natural phenomenon, captured in this oil study by Frederic Church, inspired scientists as much as it did artists.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18453625/

  • Designed by Joseph Schillinger
  • brush and tempera on illustration board
  • multicolored
  • spectrum
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

Theorist, mathematician, and composer Joseph Schillinger worked to establish accessible scientific theories to explain musical and aesthetic concepts such as color and rhythm. Schillinger made these two drawings using the systems he invented for understanding color that he later published in his 1943 treatise The Mathematical Basis for the Arts.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18453631/

  • Designed by Joseph Schillinger
  • brush and tempera on illustration board
  • multicolored
  • spectrum
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

Theorist, mathematician, and composer Joseph Schillinger worked to establish accessible scientific theories to explain musical and aesthetic concepts such as color and rhythm. Schillinger made these two drawings using the systems he invented for understanding color that he later published in his 1943 treatise The Mathematical Basis for the Arts.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18799775/

  • Designed by John De Cesare
  • color pencil, graphite on cream wove paper
  • music
  • triangles
  • color gradation
  • translation
  • visualization

The name of John De Cesare (1890–1972) is not unfamiliar to students of Art Deco architecture. For twenty-five years he was an innovative and highly successful architectural sculptor, who provided ornament for some of the earliest and most important Art Deco buildings in America. Between the years 1923 and 1948 John De Cesare’s firm, Stifter and De Cesare, working primarily in conjunction with the architectural firm of Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker (now Haines, Lundberg and Wachler) supplied the sculptural decoration for many New York city structures, including the Empire State Building, the Barclay-Vesey Building, and the Irving Trust Company Building. The Barclay-Vesey Building, 1923–26, now a historic landmark and one of the most distinguished architectural monuments of the 1920s, was the first and most influential example of the "set-back" formula characteristic of skyscraper design in the late 1920s and 1930s. It was also one of the earliest buildings in America to incorporate ornamentation into its design. Lewis Mumford stated that, "the real triumph of the Barclay-Vesey Building is its ornament . . .It is perhaps the first large structure, with the exception of the Auditorium Building in Chicago, to carry through a significant scheme of decoration." By the mid-1940s the International Style in architecture was rapidly making traditional architectural decoration either functionally untenable or aesthetically undesirable, and John De Cesare retired. He did not, however, retire to lament the passing of an architectural era or his own sculptural career. Instead, he began to evolve an intricate and complex theory using the medium of colored pencil drawings. It was his belief that the sounds of music could be made visual. He was well prepared through his formal training and professional career to demonstrate his theories pictorially, as he had extraordinary skills as a draftsman and model maker and produced remarkably beautiful, refined drawings. John De Cesare’s aim was to translate an aural art into a visual art form by systematically translating musical compositions into designs, so that one would actually see in the picture the equivalent of what one would hear in performance. Taking the transposition one step further, he then used these "visual design scores" as the basis for design motifs that could be adopted in various ways as architectural decoration. Interestingly enough, John De Cesare was not a musician, nor did he have any formal musical training. To develop his theory he had to begin by learning the basics of music. At the time of his death, several books pertaining to understanding the elements of music were found in his studio apartment. One in particular, The ABC of Musical Theory, by Ralph Dunstan contains the artist’s notes and comments, and was apparently the primary source of his information about the technical aspects of musical composition. Although De Cesare was not a musician, he was a problem-solver. The enormous complexity of accurately translating the sound of music into a visual art form, while at the same time maintaining an aesthetically interesting design, was a challenge he could not resist. In a short, unpublished manuscript entitled "The Theory of Visual Space in Music," John De Cesare stated that he intended to explore a dimension in music that he felt had not been recognized before: "a visual dimension of space in music." He stated that: there are two kinds of space in music: the space the sound travels through and the space forms created by the different parts heard in relation to each other. The last point is significant. On an actual musical score, each part is written on a separate staff, but in performance the notes played by each of the musical instruments are heard simultaneously. "Space form," therefore, is the term the artist uses to refer to his personal visualization of the sound of the musical score. In order to devise a system of visual "space forms," De Cesare created a new vocabulary of visual forms that represented the equivalent of traditional musical notation. With this vocabulary, the viewer can "read" the drawings in much the same way as he would "read" a musical score. The artist determined that: Music has two geometric elements within its structure. A horizontal and a vertical reciprocally related. The horizontal movement from left to right indicates the duration (or time value) of a note and the vertical, or up and down movement, indicates the pitch (or position on the staff). Since a musical note contains both duration and pitch, it forms a geometric unit in the form of an angle. This angle can be considered the space form. Using an angular geometric shape to symbolize a standard musical note, he varied its width to suggest the length in time, and its position on the staff to indicate the pitch. The direction of the angle up or down indicated the bass or treble clef. He created forms of entirely different shapes to symbolize vocal parts. He used color to clarify visually each line of music (for instance, in a simple score, violet "notes" might indicate notes in the treble clef and red "notes" those in the bass clef). As in a traditional musical score, the artist used staffs, ledger lines, and measures for framework. However, since his intention was to represent musical compositions as they are heard, he superimposed the notes from all the staffs of a score onto a single staff, allowing the viewer to see what he would hear in a performance. De Cesare drew upon a variety of compositions for his translations, including the works of Stephen Foster, "Silent Night," "The U.S. Army Bugle Call: Taps," and "The Star-Spangled Banner." His most important sources, however, were classical works by Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Dvorak, Donizetti, Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, and Bach. He often chose a particular score or arrangement because it provided him with a vehicle for experimenting with certain aspects or problems involved in the translation. For example, he chose a piano arrangement of Bach’s "Toccata and Fugue" because he wanted to deal with the representation of chords: Single notes are not difficult to represent. It is in the chords where the difficulty presents a temporary problem. One chord following another makes it necessary to alternate the colors in order to maintain the legibility of the individual notes as chords. He found it a relatively simple matter to depict musical scores that were written for only one instrument. In referring to three drawings relating to the famous Sextet from Lucia Di Lammermoor by Donizetti, the artist says: This composition was chosen to see how many parts can be included in a visual interpretation of a musical score. This particular arrangement contains eleven different lines of written music: six vocal parts and five instrumental parts. An even more complex score is an arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in B-flat with twenty-nine instrumental parts and one vocal part. A second aspect of John De Cesare’s project was to create architectural designs and ornamental motifs developed from his musical translations. For instance, in a study for a Bell Tower, he determined the dimensions of the building, its form, and designs for the decorative detail from certain measures of an arrangement of Bach’s "Ave Maria." In another case, he used the melody line from "The U.S. Army Bugle Call: Taps" as the basis for the wrought iron grill-work decoration of a gateway to a military cemetery. Extracting the vocal part of "The Star-Spangled Banner," he created numerous architectural decorative motifs, designs for wall murals, for door knobs, gates and entranceways, and patterns for accessories, like rugs. In all these drawings, what appears on the surface as abstract decoration, is, in reality, readable as measures, phrases, periods, or even whole score lines from specific musical compositions. Although the subject matter in the drawings is most frequently related to musical scores, the earliest drawings were inspired by non-musical topics. Charts included in the 1949 Annual Report for the General Foods Corporation were the basis for a series of designs of linear motifs for an imaginary façade of a General Foods building. Photographs published in the New York Times provided the impetus for a series connected with the Berlin airlift, and several news photographs about nuclear bomb explosions were incorporated into his drawing relating to Wagner’s "Fire Music" from "Die Walküre." Beyond the drawings’ function as the embodiment of the artist’s theories is the consideration of the draftsmanship. The intensity of the numerous colors which emanate from the drawings with a mosaic-like brilliance, along with the refinement of the drawing style and the meticulous rendering of detail, results in images of compelling beauty. The intricacy of the designs is not unlike oriental rug patterns in which the complex interlacing of a variety of shapes results in a harmonious and visually pleasing whole. The artist was totally in control of the colored pencils that he chose as a precise but flexible medium to carry out his involved, imaginative conceptions. It is surprising that De Cesare did not consider the drawings to be finished works of art. Rather he viewed them as studies, or working drafts which represented step-by-step solutions to problems he had set for himself. He was at the same time fully aware of the remarkable intellectual and artistic achievement his drawings represented. In retirement, living as a virtual recluse, John De Cesare worked continuously for twenty years developing his theories. According to his careful explanatory notes, he apparently produced over three hundred drawings. It was his wish that the drawings remaining in his studio apartment be shared by his family with a museum. It was the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s good fortune that in honoring his wishes the De Cesare family chose the National Museum of Design as the most fitting repository. John De Cesare was born in Palermo, Italy, in 1890. In 1895 his family moved to New York City, where the artist remained until his death in 1972. He received his training at the Mechanics Institute, Cooper-Union, and the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, all in New York City. For a number of years during the 1930s he served as juror for the prestigious sculpture competitions held by the Beaux-Arts Institute.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18799765/

  • Designed by John De Cesare
  • color pencil, graphite on wove paper
  • multicolored
  • music
  • geometric
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • visualization

The name of John De Cesare (1890–1972) is not unfamiliar to students of Art Deco architecture. For twenty-five years he was an innovative and highly successful architectural sculptor, who provided ornament for some of the earliest and most important Art Deco buildings in America. Between the years 1923 and 1948 John De Cesare’s firm, Stifter and De Cesare, working primarily in conjunction with the architectural firm of Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker (now Haines, Lundberg and Wachler) supplied the sculptural decoration for many New York city structures, including the Empire State Building, the Barclay-Vesey Building, and the Irving Trust Company Building. The Barclay-Vesey Building, 1923–26, now a historic landmark and one of the most distinguished architectural monuments of the 1920s, was the first and most influential example of the "set-back" formula characteristic of skyscraper design in the late 1920s and 1930s. It was also one of the earliest buildings in America to incorporate ornamentation into its design. Lewis Mumford stated that, "the real triumph of the Barclay-Vesey Building is its ornament . . .It is perhaps the first large structure, with the exception of the Auditorium Building in Chicago, to carry through a significant scheme of decoration." By the mid-1940s the International Style in architecture was rapidly making traditional architectural decoration either functionally untenable or aesthetically undesirable, and John De Cesare retired. He did not, however, retire to lament the passing of an architectural era or his own sculptural career. Instead, he began to evolve an intricate and complex theory using the medium of colored pencil drawings. It was his belief that the sounds of music could be made visual. He was well prepared through his formal training and professional career to demonstrate his theories pictorially, as he had extraordinary skills as a draftsman and model maker and produced remarkably beautiful, refined drawings. John De Cesare’s aim was to translate an aural art into a visual art form by systematically translating musical compositions into designs, so that one would actually see in the picture the equivalent of what one would hear in performance. Taking the transposition one step further, he then used these "visual design scores" as the basis for design motifs that could be adopted in various ways as architectural decoration. Interestingly enough, John De Cesare was not a musician, nor did he have any formal musical training. To develop his theory he had to begin by learning the basics of music. At the time of his death, several books pertaining to understanding the elements of music were found in his studio apartment. One in particular, The ABC of Musical Theory, by Ralph Dunstan contains the artist’s notes and comments, and was apparently the primary source of his information about the technical aspects of musical composition. Although De Cesare was not a musician, he was a problem-solver. The enormous complexity of accurately translating the sound of music into a visual art form, while at the same time maintaining an aesthetically interesting design, was a challenge he could not resist. In a short, unpublished manuscript entitled "The Theory of Visual Space in Music," John De Cesare stated that he intended to explore a dimension in music that he felt had not been recognized before: "a visual dimension of space in music." He stated that: there are two kinds of space in music: the space the sound travels through and the space forms created by the different parts heard in relation to each other. The last point is significant. On an actual musical score, each part is written on a separate staff, but in performance the notes played by each of the musical instruments are heard simultaneously. "Space form," therefore, is the term the artist uses to refer to his personal visualization of the sound of the musical score. In order to devise a system of visual "space forms," De Cesare created a new vocabulary of visual forms that represented the equivalent of traditional musical notation. With this vocabulary, the viewer can "read" the drawings in much the same way as he would "read" a musical score. The artist determined that: Music has two geometric elements within its structure. A horizontal and a vertical reciprocally related. The horizontal movement from left to right indicates the duration (or time value) of a note and the vertical, or up and down movement, indicates the pitch (or position on the staff). Since a musical note contains both duration and pitch, it forms a geometric unit in the form of an angle. This angle can be considered the space form. Using an angular geometric shape to symbolize a standard musical note, he varied its width to suggest the length in time, and its position on the staff to indicate the pitch. The direction of the angle up or down indicated the bass or treble clef. He created forms of entirely different shapes to symbolize vocal parts. He used color to clarify visually each line of music (for instance, in a simple score, violet "notes" might indicate notes in the treble clef and red "notes" those in the bass clef). As in a traditional musical score, the artist used staffs, ledger lines, and measures for framework. However, since his intention was to represent musical compositions as they are heard, he superimposed the notes from all the staffs of a score onto a single staff, allowing the viewer to see what he would hear in a performance. De Cesare drew upon a variety of compositions for his translations, including the works of Stephen Foster, "Silent Night," "The U.S. Army Bugle Call: Taps," and "The Star-Spangled Banner." His most important sources, however, were classical works by Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Dvorak, Donizetti, Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, and Bach. He often chose a particular score or arrangement because it provided him with a vehicle for experimenting with certain aspects or problems involved in the translation. For example, he chose a piano arrangement of Bach’s "Toccata and Fugue" because he wanted to deal with the representation of chords: Single notes are not difficult to represent. It is in the chords where the difficulty presents a temporary problem. One chord following another makes it necessary to alternate the colors in order to maintain the legibility of the individual notes as chords. He found it a relatively simple matter to depict musical scores that were written for only one instrument. In referring to three drawings relating to the famous Sextet from Lucia Di Lammermoor by Donizetti, the artist says: This composition was chosen to see how many parts can be included in a visual interpretation of a musical score. This particular arrangement contains eleven different lines of written music: six vocal parts and five instrumental parts. An even more complex score is an arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in B-flat with twenty-nine instrumental parts and one vocal part. A second aspect of John De Cesare’s project was to create architectural designs and ornamental motifs developed from his musical translations. For instance, in a study for a Bell Tower, he determined the dimensions of the building, its form, and designs for the decorative detail from certain measures of an arrangement of Bach’s "Ave Maria." In another case, he used the melody line from "The U.S. Army Bugle Call: Taps" as the basis for the wrought iron grill-work decoration of a gateway to a military cemetery. Extracting the vocal part of "The Star-Spangled Banner," he created numerous architectural decorative motifs, designs for wall murals, for door knobs, gates and entranceways, and patterns for accessories, like rugs. In all these drawings, what appears on the surface as abstract decoration, is, in reality, readable as measures, phrases, periods, or even whole score lines from specific musical compositions. Although the subject matter in the drawings is most frequently related to musical scores, the earliest drawings were inspired by non-musical topics. Charts included in the 1949 Annual Report for the General Foods Corporation were the basis for a series of designs of linear motifs for an imaginary façade of a General Foods building. Photographs published in the New York Times provided the impetus for a series connected with the Berlin airlift, and several news photographs about nuclear bomb explosions were incorporated into his drawing relating to Wagner’s "Fire Music" from "Die Walküre." Beyond the drawings’ function as the embodiment of the artist’s theories is the consideration of the draftsmanship. The intensity of the numerous colors which emanate from the drawings with a mosaic-like brilliance, along with the refinement of the drawing style and the meticulous rendering of detail, results in images of compelling beauty. The intricacy of the designs is not unlike oriental rug patterns in which the complex interlacing of a variety of shapes results in a harmonious and visually pleasing whole. The artist was totally in control of the colored pencils that he chose as a precise but flexible medium to carry out his involved, imaginative conceptions. It is surprising that De Cesare did not consider the drawings to be finished works of art. Rather he viewed them as studies, or working drafts which represented step-by-step solutions to problems he had set for himself. He was at the same time fully aware of the remarkable intellectual and artistic achievement his drawings represented. In retirement, living as a virtual recluse, John De Cesare worked continuously for twenty years developing his theories. According to his careful explanatory notes, he apparently produced over three hundred drawings. It was his wish that the drawings remaining in his studio apartment be shared by his family with a museum. It was the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s good fortune that in honoring his wishes the De Cesare family chose the National Museum of Design as the most fitting repository. John De Cesare was born in Palermo, Italy, in 1890. In 1895 his family moved to New York City, where the artist remained until his death in 1972. He received his training at the Mechanics Institute, Cooper-Union, and the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, all in New York City. For a number of years during the 1930s he served as juror for the prestigious sculpture competitions held by the Beaux-Arts Institute.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18618049/

  • Designed by Ken White
  • screenprint on paper
  • Gift of Various Donors
  • graphic design
  • branding
  • optical mixing
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

Designer Ken White nests IBM’s familiar corporate identity within the highly recognizable dot patterns of the Ishihara color blindness test. In this clever context, "color blindness" serves as a powerful signifier for the company’s long-standing commitment to being an inclusive, equal opportunity employer.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18645697/

  • lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Steven Heller and Karrie Jacobs
  • figures
  • graphic design
  • political poster
  • complementary colors
  • infrared

Almost all living and nonliving things emit infrared radiation, or heat. While these long wavelengths fall beyond the visible spectrum, thermal imaging uses temperature to form a picture of objects, even in total darkness. In this activist poster, the bodies of soldiers radiate heat visible in red, orange, yellow, and green tones.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108978351/

  • Manufactured by Carnovsky
  • digital print on paper
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment
  • pastoral
  • optical effect

Carnovsky’s RGB wallpapers consist of three superimposed scenes, each printed in a different color: cyan, yellow, or magenta. By viewing the design under saturated red, green, or blue lighting conditions, one of the three scenes is revealed. Under red light, the architectural interior, printed in cyan, becomes visible. In green light, the magenta print of a horse-drawn cart in a dense forest appears; while the blue light exposes the yellow design—a group of dancing figures and satyrs in a pastoral scene.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/136300661/

  • Designed by LuzElena Wood
  • digital print on paper
  • Gift of twenty2 wallpaper
  • ombre
  • optical effect
  • color gradation
  • complementary colors

In this 3D or anaglyph paper, two identical images are printed slightly off-register, one in red and one in blue. When viewed through the red and blue lenses in the anaglyph glasses, only one of the two images is seen by each eye. The brain then fuses these images into the illusion of three-dimensional space.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51497211/

  • Designed by Grethe Sørensen
  • cotton
  • Museum purchase through gift of Wolf-Gordon, Maleyne M. Syracuse and Michael Trenner in memory of Richard M. Syracuse, and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • color gradation
  • gradient
  • optical mixing

Grethe Sørenson has captured in cloth a film made by her husband, Bo Hovgaard, of Shanghai at night. Subtle gradations of color are created using thread “pixels” of red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and white, creating an almost photorealistic reproduction of the image.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18616235/

  • Designed by Beck & Jung
  • computer ink plotter print on paper
  • digital
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • computer design

The Chromo Cube was designed to showcase the capabilities of the software Color to apply color gradients to a 3-D rendering. The software could create smooth color transitions by incrementally adjusting the dot density; the program also allowed for up to 25 different dot patterns.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18805771/

  • Designed by Beck & Jung
  • computer ink plotter print on paper
  • digital
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • spectrum
  • gradient
  • computer design

In this demonstration of the capabilities of Color—an early color management software—the rigid geometry of the cube contrasts with the soft depth of the cloudy sky. At a distance, the dot patterns of the sky mix optically to create subtle color changes; a closer look allows the viewer to see the varied dot patterns that create the richly textured image.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/588739895/

  • Designed by Don Flood
  • Manufactured by Astek Inc.
  • digital print on mylar
  • Gift of Astek Inc.
  • iridescent
  • insects
  • analogous color

The iridescent green of the rose chafer beetle is the result of left circularly polarized light. In this wallpaper, the beetles are printed in translucent inks on Mylar, a highly reflective polyester film. The light reflected off the Mylar and through the inks mimics the iridescent effect.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68250891/

  • Designed by Ingo Maurer
  • Manufactured by Ingo Maurer GmbH
  • mouth-blown glass, 3d-printed (flexible free-formed) plastic, machined brass, halogen light source
  • Gift of Ingo Maurer GmbH and Graham Owen
  • interior
  • interior decoration
  • lighting
  • butterflies
  • wings
  • domestic interiors
  • decorative
  • nature
  • brightly colored
  • bulbous
  • insects
  • flight
  • colorful
  • lamp

This is among lighting designer Ingo Maurer’s most imaginative works. Realistic handcrafted insects are mounted on a 3D-printed band, as though caught flitting around the lamp. Maurer’s unusual combination of industrial and handworking techniques invites the user to ponder nature, light, and the power of attraction and compulsion.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18451303/

  • carved and pierced ivory sticks, peacock and peahen feathers, gilt metal bail, silk tassel
  • Gift of Mrs. James M. Breed
  • women's fashion accessories
  • personal environmental control
  • feathers
  • iridescent

The dazzling iridescent colors of a peacock’s tail feathers are created without the use of any real pigmentation at all. The colors are caused by light interference, an optical phenomenon produced by micro-structures of the feather which cause the light to refract or bend. Such colors are called "structural colors."

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18318821/

  • cotton ground, beetle elytra, gold foil strips, gilt sequins, gold metal-wrapped silk thread. technique: embroidery with beetle wings cut and sewn on and sequins sewn on
  • iridescent
  • insects
  • women's fashion

The iridescent elytra, or wing casings, of the Buprestidae Jewel beetle have been used for centuries to adorn clothing and jewelry in India. In the 19th century, an export trade developed around Calcutta, where gossamer-fine cotton muslins were embroidered with gold threads and beetle wing "sequins."

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18488125/

  • mold-blown and iridized glass
  • Gift of Stanley Siegel, from the Stanley Siegel Collection
  • interior
  • decoration
  • container
  • home
  • organic
  • multicolored
  • luxury
  • peacocks
  • iridescent
  • art nouveau
  • fans
  • trumpeted
  • striated
  • swirls
  • Favrile

This vase exhibits the brilliant blue tones that Tiffany’s workshop achieved in favrile glass. The “Peacock” vase celebrates Tiffany’s revival of the decorative technique of feathering that had been in use since Roman times. Thin filaments of differently colored batches of glass form long, sinuous lines that were fashionable in the art nouveau style.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18731735/

  • Designed by Tadanori Yokoo, Japanese
  • screenprint on white wove paper
  • Gift of Sara and Marc Benda
  • graphic design
  • portrait
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • neon
  • analogous color

Rokuro Taniuchi was an acclaimed illustrator known for his child-like, surreal covers for the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho. In this poster for a 1981 exhibition of his work, a fluorescent pink portrait of a smiling, cigarette-holding Taniuchi floats over a blue-yellow ombre background to produce an image that is emblematic of Yokoo’s Pop-Art, exuberant aesthetic.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797479/

  • Designed by Ben Shaffer
  • Manufactured by Nike, Inc. (Beaverton, Oregon)
  • polyester, kevlar
  • Gift of Nike, Inc.
  • personal
  • sports
  • lightweight
  • innovative
  • mesh
  • footwear
  • athletes
  • running
  • marathoners
  • exercise
  • neon
  • logos
  • fluorescent

For the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Nike used Volt, a signature florescent green color, for its footwear across events, venues, and nations. Strikingly visible on the red track—and the medals stand—the eye-catching shoes created a media and fashion sensation.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/152749795/

  • Designed by Sandy Chilewich
  • vinyl, acrylic
  • Gift of Sandy Chilewich
  • dining
  • tabletop
  • fluorescent

The edges of this table runner appear to emit light from within. This luminous effect is due to the transmission of light through the acrylic inserts, amplifying their florescence and seeming to glow.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18463873/

  • Designed by Antony Little
  • Manufactured by Osborne & Little
  • screen printed on ingrain paper
  • Gift of Clarence House
  • floral
  • palmettes
  • complementary colors

Complementary colors, when placed side-by-side, seem to have increased chromaticness, making reds appear redder and greens appear greener. The fact that each color also has the same brightness adds to the desired effect of surface flatness, as each color competes for the foreground.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18397201/

  • Designed by Anni Albers
  • silk, cotton
  • Gift of Anni Albers
  • optical mixing
  • complementary colors

In large doses, complementary colors tend to increase the vividness of each color, but in a small-scale pattern, the complements can neutralize each other. Here, Anni Albers uses orange-red and yellow-green together to create a woven pattern that appears calm at a distance, but pops close-up.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18633447/

  • Designed by Bart Guldemond
  • plastic (polyester), porcelain
  • Museum purchase from Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Fund
  • vessel
  • complementary colors
  • mixed materials

Bart Guldemond and Vincent de Rijk worked together, experimenting with new techniques in bonding various materials to ceramics. They eventually succeeded in enveloping a ceramic bowl with polyester resin. The contrast in materials is heightened by the use of complementary colors.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18667507/

  • Designed by Alexander Gelman
  • offset lithograph on coated paper
  • Gift of Design Machine
  • graphic design
  • contrast
  • zigzags
  • complementary colors

Alexander Gelman’s minimal approach to graphic design favors flat fields of color in stark, clean arrangements. In this magazine cover, crisp planes of complementary colors clash in a zigzagging border, which vibrates with movement as the contrasting red and green elements affect the eye’s perception of each half of the design.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18651191/

  • Designed by Richard Anuszkiewicz
  • screenprint on paper
  • Gift of Joshua Mack
  • abstraction
  • squares
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • analogous color

A clear understanding of optical effects characterizes the work of Richard Anuszkiewicz, a student of Josef Albers. In this design, each block of yellow, orange, or red is bordered with pale blue, green, or deep yellow, giving the illusion of a continuous gradation from cool and light in the upper left corner to warm and saturated in the lower right.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18480537/

  • Designed by Josef Albers
  • screenprint on white paper
  • Gift of the Museum of Graphic Art, New York
  • abstraction
  • squares
  • geometric
  • analogous color

Throughout Homage to the Square, the series that defined the late career of Josef Albers, the artist demonstrates the ways in which colors influence each other by applying a wide variety of colors to a single composition of squares within squares. In this example, the bright violet hue dulls the brilliance of the red tones, and the purple and red planes seemingly recede and advance into space.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18649889/

  • Designed by Greg Oznowich
  • offset lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Gregory Oznowich
  • graphic design
  • multicolored
  • typography
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

In this poster, a series of dates is rendered in a manner that recalls studies in books by both Chevreul and Persoz exploring how colors "read" against different colored backgrounds. The green seems to pop forward against the red background, its true complement, while it recedes on the purple ground.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749877/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, ND1488 .C52 1839
  • color theory
  • optical mixing
  • simultaneous contrast

Here, colorful dots demonstrate simultaneous contrast, the optical effect that two colors have on each other. The Gobelins tapestry workshop hired French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul to improve the "murky" color of their dyes, but he discovered that it was actually the juxtaposition of colors that made them appear more or less vibrant.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749973/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, ND1285 .W53X
  • color system
  • secondary colors
  • color wheel
  • primary color

After prolonged exposure to a single stimulus, our eyes create an optical illusion called after-image. This color wheel consists of standard hues on the outer circle with their complementary after-image colors on the inner circle. The complementary nature of the resulting colors lends support to the opponent process theory of color vision.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18498023/

  • Designed by Victor Moscoso
  • offset lithograph on white wove paper
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie J. Schreyer
  • graphic design
  • women
  • nude
  • text
  • exotic
  • psychedelic
  • event poster
  • concert poster
  • graphic designers
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

Victor Moscoso credits his Yale professor Josef Albers as the influence for a signature feature of his work: the use of vibrating colors. Although Day-Glo or fluorescent inks were widely available in the 1960s, Moscoso declined to use them, relying instead on color juxtapositions to replicate the hyper-saturated color illusions associated with the use of hallucinogenic drugs.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18498025/

  • Designed by Victor Moscoso
  • offset lithograph on white wove paper
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie J. Schreyer
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

Victor Moscoso credits his Yale professor Josef Albers as the influence for a signature feature of his work: the use of vibrating colors. Although Day-Glo or fluorescent inks were widely available in the 1960s, Moscoso declined to use them, relying instead on color juxtapositions to replicate the hyper-saturated color illusions associated with the use of hallucinogenic drugs.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749957/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, ND1489.A33
  • circles
  • squares
  • Bauhaus
  • color theory
  • color harmony
  • color interaction

Josef Albers’ landmark publication included this lesser known plate illustrating color as a series of measured wavelengths plotted on a graph. Albers understood the importance that developing technologies like colorimetry and the CIELAB color space would have on the future of color science.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18651193/

  • Designed by Jack Youngerman
  • lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Joshua Mack
  • graphic design
  • dance
  • contrast
  • complementary colors

Jack Youngerman created this poster as part of a series celebrating the 25th anniversary of New York City Center. The organic yellow forms contrast against the deep blue ground in this complementary color scheme, creating a sense of dynamism that conveys the energy and movement of dance.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18730773/

  • Designed by Niklaus Troxler
  • offset lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Niklaus Troxler
  • advertising
  • promotion
  • overlapping
  • typography
  • letters
  • concert poster
  • complementary colors

Niklaus Troxler unites his passions for jazz and graphic design in the posters he produced for Jazz Festival Willisau. In this design, Troxler uses concepts that define jazz—interaction, individuality, contrast, and rhythm—to create a typographical scheme. Rendered in percussive complementary colors, the overlapping letterforms shrink and swell by line, creating a unique graphic beat.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18654247/

  • Designed by Paula Scher
  • screenprint on paper
  • Gift of Paula Scher
  • graphic design
  • advertising
  • theater
  • theater poster
  • portrait
  • typography
  • diagonal lines
  • singing
  • amplify
  • diagonal
  • mouth
  • complementary colors

Paula Scher’s juxtaposition of a head in blue and white superimposed on a yellow ground makes for an eye-catching poster. Using complementary colors to draw attention, Scher’s poster for a production at The Public Theater also recalls the bright hues of Pop Art and Andy Warhol’s color-centric print series featuring the heads of iconic figures.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18730779/

  • Designed by Niklaus Troxler
  • offset lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Niklaus Troxler
  • stripes
  • graphic design
  • music
  • posters
  • event poster
  • jazz
  • complementary colors

In Troxler’s Jazz Festival poster from 2005, a complementary color scheme adds dynamism to the image of two musicians playing tuba and saxophone. Since the eye can only view one figure at a time, shifting between the musicians creates an optical movement reinforced by the vibrating contrasting colors, resulting in a graphic expression of the syncopated rhythm of jazz.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18731843/

  • Designed by Mendell & Oberer
  • screenprint on paper
  • Gift of Sara and Marc Benda
  • overlapping
  • exhibition poster
  • neon
  • complementary colors
  • bright

Pierre Mendell and Klaus Oberer created this vivid design in three colorways for the Plastics + Design exhibition at Die Neue Sammlung Museum in Munich. The combination of simple shapes and fluorescent colors results in a striking graphic that echoes the synthetic colors found in plastics, while the varied proportions of each color radically change the overall effect.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18794725/

  • Designed by Raymond Loewy
  • airbrush and watercolor, gouache, brush and metallic paint, graphite on paperboard
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • streamlined
  • travel
  • public
  • transportation
  • commercial interior
  • transport
  • seating
  • chairs
  • metal
  • shade
  • trains

Industrial designer Raymond Loewy worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company from 1934–52, designing everything from locomotives to dinnerware. This color concept for the MP-54 passenger car presents a modern restyling of an existing train interior—the linoleum floor, streamlined chair panels, green window shades, and bright yellow seats offer practical solutions for modernizing train transport to attract consumers.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108797981/

  • Designed by Carl Renner
  • color pencil, graphite on paper
  • Museum purchase through gift of Paul Herzan and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • industrial design
  • automobile
  • automobile design
  • concept drawing
  • gradient
  • complementary colors

In the 1950s, innovative automotive styling was essential to selling cars to American consumers, and designers often rendered concepts in eye-catching colors. In this Chevrolet concept, Carl Renner pairs a warm yellow coupe with panoramic green-tinted windows, and places the car against a complementary blue ground.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108798041/

  • Designed by George Camp
  • color pencil, marker, graphite on paper
  • Museum purchase through gift of Paul Herzan and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • industrial design
  • curving lines
  • elongated
  • automobile
  • automobile design
  • monochromatic

The elongated body of this Pontiac GTO design is a classic muscle car silhouette. George Camp’s treatment of the car’s alluring red body highlights the vehicle’s curving, aerodynamic form. Though not as powerful as the Italian racing cars that inspired the Pontiac GTO, Camp’s bold, colorful vision of a sleek automobile suggests speed and style.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18670797/

  • Designed by Marianne Strengell
  • Manufactured by Chatham Manufacturing Company
  • cotton, rayon, lurex
  • Museum Purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program Fund
  • metallic
  • luxury
  • monochromatic
  • automotive design

Women became important car buyers in the 1950s, and car makers designed with them in mind. Gold Ripple-Wave was a luxury interior option on Ford’s 1957 Fairlane 500 Club and Town Victoria, and was offered only in this distinctive yellow and black color combination, to match the two-tone exterior paint finish.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18806259/

  • Designed by Joe Colombo
  • Manufactured by Kartell S.p.A, Milan
  • injection-molded abs plastic, rubber
  • furniture
  • seating
  • brightly colored
  • chairs
  • red plastic
  • molded
  • monochromatic

This lightweight, stackable, indoor/outdoor chair provides a colorful option for flexible seating. Made from a single piece of molded plastic, the opening in the back functions as a grip for carrying the chair, but also allows it to be more easily released from its mold.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18733399/

  • Designed by James Dyson
  • Manufactured by Dyson Ltd.
  • molded abs plastic, polycarbonate, rubber, metal, electronic components
  • Gift of Paul W. Thompson
  • brightly colored
  • metal
  • technology
  • rubber
  • plastic
  • cleaning
  • machine
  • yellow plastic
  • monochromatic

Dyson’s Dual Cyclone suction technology made its American debut with the DC07 in 2002, one year after the model was introduced in England. The constructivist aesthetic and bold color scheme suggests a new direction for a common household appliance.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18676975/

  • Designed by Apple Industrial Design Team
  • Manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc.
  • molded plastic, rubber, glass, metal, electronic components
  • Gift of Apple Computer
  • rounded
  • recording
  • brightly colored
  • tool
  • work
  • tapered
  • organization
  • making
  • blue plastic
  • monochromatic
  • achromatic color

Besides the intuitive ease with which the iMac could be used, it is the range of candy-like case colors—blueberry, tangerine, strawberry, grape, or lime—that set it apart from its competitors. Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, noted that, "For most consumers, color is more important than megahertz, gigabytes, and other gibberish associated with buying a typical PC."

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18637131/

  • Designed by Frederick Hurten Rhead
  • Manufactured by Homer Laughlin China Company
  • glazed earthenware
  • earthenware
  • monochromatic

Fiesta dinnerware’s simple art deco style and streamlined shapes were compatible with many styles of interior decoration, allowing homemakers to mix and match these designs with other wares already in their cabinets. Rhead’s ceramics introduced bright spots of color to the plainest of tables, making them a success with American consumers.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18648873/

  • Designed by Henry Dreyfuss Associates
  • Manufactured by AT&T Global Information Systems
  • molded plastic, metal
  • Gift of AT&T
  • marketing
  • monochromatic

AT&T released the Signature Princess line of telephones after young women expressed renewed interest in the original 1959 design; the 1993 re-release features lighted touchtone push buttons instead of the original rotary dial. Both the Princess and the Signature Princess came in a variety of colors, but the pastel models were the most popular.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18617961/

  • Designed by Stephen Frykholm
  • offset lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Various Donors
  • furniture
  • graphic design
  • series
  • polychrome

Nicknamed the Chiclet, after the candy-coated gum, this modular sofa group’s components could be taken apart, rearranged, interspersed with table pieces, and screwed back together using a simple Allen wrench. In this poster, the rainbow of colors serves as a shorthand for consumer choice and customization. In reality, these upholstered pieces were offered in an even greater array of fabrics and colors than those shown, including the option for clients to specify their own fabric.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/69113751/

  • Designed by Philippe Apeloig
  • screenprint on paper
  • Gift of Philippe Apeloig in honor of Gail Davidson
  • graphic design
  • dance
  • theater poster
  • typography
  • movement
  • Eiffel Tower
  • double image
  • sinuous

In Philippe Apeloig’s poster for a French production of An American in Paris, color shifts give a striking dimensionality to the Eiffel Tower’s form. Inspired by Gene Kelly’s choreography in the musical film, Apeloig renders the monument in sinuous lines—the double images seem to partner one another in a dance.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108806923/

  • Designed by Verner Panton
  • Manufactured by Mira-X International Furnishings, Inc.
  • cotton
  • Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
  • illusionistic
  • color gradation
  • monochromatic

Verner Panton believed that color played a greater role than form in design, but in these dynamic patterns, he plays with both. In each design, the color appears in eight degrees of saturation, from 15% to 100%; the graduated depth of color contributes to a sensation of three-dimensional depth.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68731055/

  • Designed by Felix Pfäffli
  • risograph on paper
  • Gift of Felix Pfäffli
  • graphic design
  • typography
  • folds
  • monochromatic

Risography was invented in the 1980s in Japan as a low-cost alternative to photocopying. An image is cut into a master stencil, which is wrapped around an ink drum. The stencil and ink drum are replaced for each additional color. Risography became a popular medium among young designers and publishers in the early 21st century.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18714567/

  • Designed by Christoph Niemann
  • Manufactured by Stora Enso
  • offset lithograph on white wove paper
  • Gift of William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand
  • communication
  • graphic design
  • advertising
  • pattern
  • repetition
  • activist poster
  • typography
  • optical effect
  • 3D

Utilizing red, black, and white in conjunction with the single, geometric form of a square, Christoph Niemann creates a complicated optical illusion in which depth appears variable. Only after careful examination do letters, initially hidden amongst the cubist grid in the background, emerge to spell “Sustainability.”

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749981/

  • Manufactured by Tauba Auerbach
  • Smithsonian Libraries, N7433.4.A94 B73
  • sculptural
  • geometric
  • 3D
  • book
  • color

Like much of Auerbach’s work, this pop-up book uses color to explore a space between two and three dimensions. Each facet of the paper gems appears a slightly different color, and reflections from the yellow page further complicate the interplay of color and form.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51689423/

  • Designed by Erik Nitsche
  • offset lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Arthur Cohen and Daryl Otte in memory of Bill Moggridge
  • graphic design
  • advertising
  • multicolored
  • science
  • triangles
  • promotional poster
  • exhibition poster
  • peace
  • pyramids

As a consultant to General Dynamics in the 1950s, Erik Nitsche produced a graphic campaign that represented the company’s commitment to peaceful progress through nuclear energy. Without illustrating any top-secret products or technologies, Nitsche combined inspiration from modernist fine art as well as science to create a series of abstracted modern graphics. In this poster, subtly duller shades on the right suggest a three-dimensional triangular structure.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460615/

  • Designed by Winslow Anderson
  • Manufactured by Blenko Glass Company
  • glass
  • Gift of Damon Crain
  • display
  • drinking
  • red
  • decorative
  • curving line
  • elongated
  • revolve
  • monochromatic

This decanter is an expressive use of Blenko’s signature ruby glass. Patented for use in stained glass windows, the glass could be double fired, which enabled enamel decorators to paint on it. Blenko’s technological advances resulted in a 1929 launch of innovative glass tableware that incorporated creative forms and strong colors.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18423051/

  • blown and drawn glass
  • glass
  • vessel
  • monochromatic

Glass, essentially a mixture of soda, silica, and lime, can be colored through the addition of metals or other materials. Glass makers of the classical Roman era knew that aquamarine blue could be achieved by adding copper, and a deep blue, as in this vessel, with cobalt.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18801213/

  • glazed porcelain
  • Gift of Dr. J. William Fielding
  • decoration
  • container
  • domestic
  • display
  • asymmetry
  • geometric
  • texture
  • color gradation
  • cone
  • monochromatic

The "YKB" of the title refers to the artist Yves Klein, who patented a singular, highly saturated blue known as International Klein Blue (IKB) in 1960. It used synthetic ultramarine, in place of the rare and costly pigment derived from lapis lazuli.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18315581/

  • carved lacquer, wood, silk
  • Bequest of Mary Hearn Greims
  • monochrome
  • lacquer
  • box

Beginning in the 12th century, carved red lacquerware became a popular medium in Chinese decorative arts. Lacquer containing the powder form of the mineral cinnabar (mercury sulfide), applied in dozens, or even hundreds, of layers created a deep vermillion color. The maker would carve the lacquer rather than the wood substrate.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749911/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, QC495 .W64
  • watercolor
  • brightness
  • color standards
  • color nomenclature

One of only four known copies in the United States, this early manual on the preparation of colors contains 2,592 hand-colored natural dye specimens. Organized according to color starting with black, it includes color recipes along with details on how to apply dyes to silk, cotton, wool, leather, wood, bone, paper, and many other materials.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18490813/

  • cotton
  • Gift of Max Saltzman
  • sea life
  • monochromatic
  • women's cl

The pattern on this traditional women’s huipil is made with magenta threads colored with the shellfish dye of the marine snail pilcopurpura pansa. Mixtec men activate the snail’s defense mechanism by manually irritating a gland, causing it to release a liquid that is then applied directly to the cotton thread.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18615843/

  • silk
  • Gift of Barbara Rogoff
  • monochromatic
  • synthetic dyes

In 1856, 18-year-old chemist William Henry Perkin accidentally discovered the first synthetic dye while searching for a treatment for malaria. His experiment failed but left behind an oily residue that stained silk a brilliant purple he called mauvine. Synthetic purple dyes soon took the fashion world by storm.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749965/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, TK4198.K76
  • metal
  • electric
  • lighting design
  • color standards

Decorative effects on metals are mostly achieved with chemical patination, plating, and coating to produce a wide variety of colors. This lighting trade catalog presents metal samples in a variety of finishes available in the early 20th century. Original finishes are often lost over time due to exposure and general wear.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18636545/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • glazed porcelain
  • Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. John Jay Ide, in memory of John Jay Ide
  • multicolored
  • complementary colors

In 1800, Napoleon engaged engineer and scientist Alexandre Brongniart as director of the Sèvres porcelain factory. Brongniart introduced new ground colors and patterns to the ceramic designs, made through higher firing temperatures and scientific experimentation with metal oxides. Both the lavender and the green in this ewer are new colors from Brongniart’s era.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51685031/

  • Designed by Michael Eden
  • 3d-printed nylon
  • Museum purchase through gift of Elizabeth and Lee Ainslie and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • interior
  • decoration
  • interior decoration
  • home
  • neoclassical
  • display
  • vessels
  • digital
  • historicism
  • brightly colored
  • experimentation
  • concentric
  • ornamentation
  • geometric
  • texture
  • postmodern
  • unexpected shapes
  • innovative
  • 3D printing
  • digital manufacturing
  • monochromatic

This urn, created using additive manufacturing (3D printing), is part of a series originally based on iconic ceramic objects from the first industrial revolution, which Eden elaborates in ways beyond the scope of conventional ceramic techniques. The artist intentionally uses complex structures and bright colors that are impossible to produce with traditional ceramic materials.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18693705/

  • Designed by Eero Aarnio
  • Manufactured by Asko Oy
  • molded fiberglass-reinforced polyester
  • Gift of The Lake St. Louis Historical Society
  • interior
  • decoration
  • organic
  • seating
  • minimalism
  • sleek
  • movement
  • spinning
  • chair
  • monochromatic

The relatively new use of polyester, which is colored by adding concentrated pigments to the still-liquid resin, allowed Aarnio to achieve bright colors like this acid green. Designer and color researcher Hella Jongerius used hundreds of miniature versions of the chair, finding its concave and convex curves to be ideal for studying the effects of light on color and form.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18493167/

  • Designed by Richard Landis
  • linen, polyester
  • Gift of Jack Lenor Larsen, Inc.
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • gradient
  • complementary colors

Richard Landis, an artist-weaver known for his rigorous color studies, used six thread colors to create a spectrum of 21 shades, each of which appears systematically across the full range of graduated rectangles that form the "windows" in this upholstery fabric.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108954483/

  • Designed by Anzolo Fuga
  • blown glass
  • Gift of Neil and Donna Weisman
  • multicolored
  • ombre
  • color gradation

Modern artists like Anzolo Fuga introduced Murano to innovations in color and form while still honoring long held traditions of craftsmanship. This vase shows white areas of lattimo or milk glass interrupted by stripes, rods, and dots of multicolored glass, in a sophisticated multiple casing technique.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18475373/

  • blow and cased glass
  • Gift of Michael Lewis Balamuth
  • decoration
  • container
  • organic
  • multicolored
  • color gradation
  • vase
  • analogous color

The island of Murano in Venice has been an important glass-blowing center for over 1,000 years. An ancient technique called "casing" was used to create the bold organic form of this modern vase, in which dense areas of pure color–azure blue and smoky purple–appear to float weightlessly in a vessel of colorless glass.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/69153305/

  • Designed by Lea Stein
  • laminated, baked, and cut cellulose acetate
  • Gift of Myra Cooper
  • optical effect
  • color gradation
  • gradient
  • complementary colors

Jewelry designer Lea Stein often worked with rhodoid, a plastic material developed by her husband, chemist Fernand Steinberger. Made by stacking and fusing together thin sheets of cellulose acetate, their varied colors are revealed when the material is cut.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18670709/

  • Designed by Fulvio Bianconi
  • fused colored glass squares, reheated, blown and shaped
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment in honor of Piera Maria Watkins
  • multicolored
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

Pezzato glass is made by fusing together small squares of colored glass in a patchwork-like arrangement. The resulting flat sheets can then be heated and shaped into a vessel. The bright colors and casual forms of the pezzati reflected a new direction in glass design, popularized especially by Bianconi for Venini in Murano.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18404689/

  • Manufactured by J. C. Arnold
  • block printed on handmade paper
  • Gift of Deutsches Tapetenmuseum
  • interior
  • decoration
  • home
  • flowers
  • op art
  • ombre
  • optical effect

Irisé or rainbow papers were popular from about 1819 to 1830. The stripes of subtly blended colors were intended to mimic the reflective effects of silk wallcoverings. The colors include chrome yellow, a mineral pigment first published in 1809, but not widely available until about 1820.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460625/

  • Designed by Betty Baugh
  • Manufactured by Blenko Glass Company
  • glass
  • Gift of Damon Crain
  • container
  • home
  • undulating
  • drinking
  • brightly colored
  • ombre
  • fire

The bi-color effect in this piece is a result of the heat-reactive glass being returned to the fire, creating the tangerine color. The portion kept away from the fire remains yellow. The strong colors combined with the undulating shallow form and irregular surface reflect the budding studio glass movement.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18731657/

  • Manufactured by New England Glass Company
  • blown amberina glass
  • Gift of Paul F. Walter
  • decoration
  • container
  • home
  • organic
  • vases
  • petals
  • ombre
  • ridges
  • tapered
  • color gradation
  • vase
  • gradient

The New England Glass Company was famous for its amberina range, in which successive firings melted metal elements in the glass to enable a gradual shift of color—from a yellowish color at the base to a ruby red higher up. Red, a notoriously fugitive color, escaped re-firing at the top.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18696887/

  • Designed by Gaetano Pesce
  • Manufactured by Zerodisegno
  • resin
  • Gift of Zerodisegno
  • interior
  • decoration
  • seating
  • brightly colored
  • irregular
  • playful
  • analogous color

Pesce’s playful chair embodies diversity within standardization. The liquid resin is poured and hardened into the furniture’s components, which later are assembled with pegs. Following simple guidelines, the maker pours pigmented resin into a mold to achieve a random quantity and mix of colors.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18431747/

  • Designed by Rolf Middelboe
  • cotton
  • Gift of Jack Lenor Larsen, Inc.
  • circles
  • domestic interiors
  • overlapping
  • multicolored
  • curtain
  • furnishing fabric
  • radial
  • spectrum
  • analogous color

In this color wheel pattern, eight translucent inks are layered, giving a kaleidoscopic effect at the center.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749867/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, TP930 .P46X
  • geometry
  • primary colors
  • optical mixing
  • simultaneous contrast
  • color diagrams

This book was originally created to aid textile designers in the technical aspects of printing multicolor calicos. Later in the 19th century, Impressionist painter George Seurat cited Traité as influential to development of his own novel style of painting, known as pointillism. It was believed that a color mixed on the retina through optical mixing, where small areas of color appear to blend into a new color, would be more luminous than one mixed on the palette.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35520905/

  • Designed by Raw Color
  • organic cotton warp, merino wool weft
  • Gift of Raw Color
  • multicolored
  • bedding
  • experimentation
  • grid
  • ombre
  • color gradation
  • blankets
  • gradient
  • complementary colors

This blanket takes the language of the print world—monotone, duotone, and multitoned color blending—and expresses it in weaving. The increasing saturation of the colors is brought about by bringing more warp threads to the surface of the weave structure.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/420562603/

  • Designed by Wallace Sewell
  • 100% wool
  • Gift of Designtex Group
  • multicolored
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

A “planted” warp, in which multiple colors are arranged in an irregular pattern, is time-consuming and costly to set up on the loom. Master colorists Wallace Sewell designed four unique patterns on the same warp, one stripe and three Bauhaus-inspired grids patterns.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/420562605/

  • Designed by Wallace Sewell
  • 100% wool
  • Gift of Designtex Group
  • multicolored
  • analogous color

A “planted” warp, in which multiple colors are arranged in an irregular pattern, is time-consuming and costly to set up on the loom. Master colorists Wallace Sewell designed four unique patterns on the same warp, one stripe and three Bauhaus-inspired grids patterns.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/554909289/

  • 50% acrylic, 50% polyester
  • Gift of Designtex Group
  • multicolored
  • color gradation
  • gradient
  • analogous color

A color blanket is used in the selection of a palette for a line of woven fabrics. Different colors of warp and weft yarns are interwoven; the crossed colors blend in the eye though optical mixing to create new shades with a depth and textural interest not possible by weaving same-colored yarns.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18788213/

  • acrylic pressure-sensitive film, 3m flexible uv ink print on 3m diamond grade series 4000 full cube prismatic reflective sheeting mounted on brushed sheet aluminum substrate
  • Gift of Donald Meeker, Meeker & Associates, Inc., and James Montalbano, Terminal Design, Inc.
  • instruction
  • communication
  • information
  • numbers
  • typography
  • reading
  • bold
  • letters
  • sign
  • signage
  • highway
  • analogous color

Standardized highway signs use high color contrast and retroreflective surfaces, which reflect light with a minimum of scatter, to increase legibility. This proposed typeface design opens up lowercase letterforms and increases their relative heights, with the aim to improve visibility for older drivers, who often have reduced contrast sensitivity.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18646511/

  • Designed by Henry Dreyfuss
  • chalk, graphite, color pencil on yellow tracing paper
  • Gift of John Bruce
  • communication
  • industrial design
  • primary colors
  • monochromatic

In this working sketch for Bell Telephone Company, Henry Dreyfuss renders the company’s bell insignia in blue and white against bright red panels. Dreyfuss uses color to emphasize both the function of this structure and the identity of the company that runs it, making the telephone booth easily identifiable to potential customers.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18695323/

  • Designed by Paul Rand
  • offset lithograph on white paper
  • Gift of Marion S. Rand
  • public
  • communication
  • graphic design
  • advertising
  • transportation
  • brightly colored
  • symbols
  • commercial poster
  • cars
  • icons
  • signage
  • signs
  • logos
  • primary colors

In 1966, Henry Ford II hired Paul Rand to modernize the Ford logo. This poster integrates the updated logo among fifteen traffic signs and the text, "Signs that Say Safe Driving," visually linking Ford with familiar safety symbols. Though Ford ultimately did not use Rand’s graphic, Rand’s approach illustrates the importance of visibility in signage and branding.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51686591/

  • Designed by William Lind
  • Manufactured by Lindustries
  • Gift of Lindustries
  • functional
  • monochromatic
  • accessibility

The simple lever design of this plastic attachment makes the task of opening doors easier for those challenged by grasping and twisting circular door knobs. The bright red color enhances visibility, making the knob easier to locate.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18643605/

  • chrome-plated metal, plastic
  • Gift of Barbara and Max Pine
  • red plastic
  • emergency
  • monochromatic
  • color coded

The use of bright red-orange plastic, rather than metal, for elements like the bulb housing and the on/off switch make the flashlight easier to spot and operate during an emergency.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18699377/

  • Designed by Jeanne-Claude
  • graphite, brush and enamel paint, wax crayon, print, and fabric sample on white paper
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • design
  • art
  • drawing
  • New York City
  • squares
  • collage
  • map
  • fabric
  • park
  • installation
  • rendering
  • public space

This collage presents a plan and rendering for The Gates, an installation in which artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude lined Central Park’s paths with 7,500 gates draped with saffron orange panels, visible from all perspectives amongst the bare winter trees. A map at left shows Frederick Law Olmstead’s meandering walking paths outlined in bright orange.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18444283/

  • Designed by Serge Ivan Chermayeff
  • brown felt tip pen, chalk, graphite on yellow tracing paper
  • Gift of Serge Ivan Chermayeff
  • perspective
  • preparatory
  • minimalism
  • triangles
  • geometric
  • architectural drawing
  • residential

Chermayeff is an architect who believes that the design, and particularly the color of a house should, untraditionally, contrast with nature rather than appear to resemble it. This cottage is one of a group he has built on Cape Cod, and boldly stands forth from its setting of scrub pines and oaks. Before turning to architecture he was a practicing painter. Perhaps this is why Chermayeff projects his buildings as colorful, three-dimensional geometric abstractions.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18622259/

  • Designed by Massimo Vignelli
  • offset lithograph on white wove paper
  • Gift of Unknown Donor
  • multicolored
  • information
  • map
  • wayfinding

In his 1974 New York subway map, Massimo Vignelli used an eight-color palette to communicate the complex system, assigning each line a specific color. Critics found the diagrammatic plan too abstract, but many aspects of the design, including the color-coding of the lines, were retained in future iterations.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18622237/

  • Designed by Michael Hertz Associates
  • offset lithograph on white wove paper
  • Gift of Unknown Donor
  • graphic design
  • transportation
  • multicolored
  • map

In the 1978 prototype, Michael Hertz Associates added New York streets and landmarks. Hertz kept Vignelli’s colors as circular bullets, but rendered all subway lines in red, which users found confusing. Later iterations, as well as today’s map, use a "trunk line" color coding system, with one color assigned to each avenue of operation.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18648519/

  • Designed by Gideon Löwy
  • Manufactured by Bang & Olufsen
  • molded plastic, electronic components
  • Gift of Arango Design Foundation
  • multicolored
  • monochromatic
  • analogous color

The BeoCom Copenhagen telephone came in a variety of color combinations, all using color to divide the keys into groups so the user could quickly and easily find the needed buttons. By 1992, the colored keys were replaced by simple, black keys.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18640503/

  • Manufactured by OXO International
  • abs plastic, black
  • Gift of OXO
  • multicolored
  • color coded

Manufacturer OXO International sought to create more comfortable, functional kitchen tools by providing larger, improved grips that make the devices usable for a greater part of the population. Color coding each measuring spoon makes its capacity easier to identify, a design solution that proves as useful as the re-designed handles.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18648677/

  • Designed by Donald Booty Jr.
  • molded plastic, electronic components
  • Gift of Arango Design Foundation
  • instruction
  • circles
  • curving form
  • multicolored
  • recording
  • offices
  • measuring
  • tool
  • triangles
  • symbols
  • mathematical
  • postmodern
  • buttons
  • keyboard
  • calculation
  • yellow plastic

Zelco produced this calculator in two different models: one for right-handed users and the other for left-handed users. As the calculator’s title suggests, the device was designed to maximize efficiency and comfort for the user. The brightly colored keys, coded by function, allow for ease and accuracy when entering calculations.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749869/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, QA451 .B99X 1847
  • education
  • navigation
  • geometry
  • primary colors

Disregarded as an oddity after its publication in 1847, Byrne’s Euclid has since been praised by both designers and mathematicians as one of the most beautiful books on mathematics ever produced. Byrne used primary colors to distinguish different planes; the result calls to mind de Stijl design and the paintings of Piet Mondrian.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460793/

  • Designed by Irma Boom
  • digital print on non-woven paper
  • Gift of Thomas Eyck
  • stripes
  • pattern
  • domestic interiors
  • sidewall
  • multicolored
  • All-over
  • lines
  • complementary colors
  • analogous color

The palette of this striped wallpaper, derived from the diagram for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Irma Boom’s Colour, Based on Nature, reflects the heat and intensity of the lava flow, the warm mist and steam in the air, and the light reflecting off the steam in the night sky.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749873/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, HA201 1870 .A1s
  • navigation
  • information graphics
  • color coded

This detailed analysis of the 1870 national census, with data presented in the form of infographics, was the first of its kind when it was produced in 1874. Color was essential to the communication and visualization of the census’s extensive data.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749901/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, N7433.4.B64 C65 2012
  • stripes
  • nature
  • natural color
  • navigation
  • color harmony

Working with photographs of UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the globe, from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to the Jungfrau in Switzerland, Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom extracted the color information from each landscape and transformed it into an abstract color diagram, evoking and celebrating the essence of a place.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18617993/

  • Designed by Stephen Frykholm
  • screenprint on paper
  • Gift of Various Donors
  • graphic design
  • political poster
  • Midwest
  • map

Stephen Frykholm uses blue, yellow, and orange to distinguish the state of Michigan, in red, from the bodies of land and water surrounding it: The Great Lakes, Canada, and Wisconsin. He highlights the state’s physical location and communicates the importance of the state’s 1978 primary for the United States Senate race, with a dynamic design that, at first glance, appears abstract.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18346335/

  • Manufactured by Hobbs, Benton & Heath
  • machine printed on paper
  • Gift of Paul F. Franco
  • interior
  • domestic
  • home
  • hills
  • landscape
  • trees
  • color gradation
  • Mission style
  • gradient

A wallpaper frieze created a transition between the saturated colors fashionable on wallpapers of the period to the pale tones preferred on ceilings. The frieze would suggest the room’s color scheme: a deep red or green tone-on-tone paper below, and a warm tan with a slight sparkle pattern on the ceiling.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/102200233/

  • Designed by Morris & Co.
  • Manufactured by Jeffrey & Company
  • block printed on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Regents Collections Acquisition Fund

Design reformer William Morris reacted against the garish synthetic colors which were introduced in the 1850s. He promoted a return to natural dyes, resulting in the subdued color combinations which were his firm’s signature.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18492533/

  • Manufactured by Morris & Co.
  • block printed on paper

William Morris would have been shocked to see this version of his 1887 design, Sunflower, re-issued in new colorways in 1972. Instead of the mellowed, natural colors he promoted, the influence of psychedelia is seen in this close chromatic combination.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749889/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, QC495 .G85 1882
  • pochoir
  • color harmony
  • color forecasting

Architect and decorator Édouard Guichard promoted the concept of color harmony for the design of wallpaper, draperies, upholstery, and paint schemes in interior design. His Harmony of Colors contains 166 spectacular full-color plates with 1,300 harmonious color palettes intended to inspire his fellow designers.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18708229/

  • brush and watercolor, gouache, gold paint on white wove paper
  • Thaw Collection
  • watercolor
  • interiors
  • complementary colors
  • color harmony

Rich colors and eclectic ornamentation characterize the many decorative flourishes in the Grand Duchess’s salon. The numerous juxtapositions of colors and patterns reflect Victorian-era aesthetics.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18354609/

  • Designed by Herman A. Elsberg
  • silk
  • Anonymous bequest in memory of Albert and Rebecca Elsberg
  • sample
  • optical mixing
  • color blanket

The ability to alter the character of a pattern by changing just one of its component colors is called the "Bezold effect" after the theories of Wilhelm von Bezold. In this sample blanket, textile designer Herman Elsberg is experimenting with six different background colors and three color variations in the secondary leaf pattern: pale green, silver, and off-white.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749921/

  • Manufactured by Seeley Brothers
  • Smithsonian Libraries, TP937 .S44 1886
  • lithograph
  • trade catalogue
  • paint
  • paint samples

In the late 1800s, with the advent of pre-mixed paints, the range of available paint colors expanded exponentially, making possible the multi-colored paint schemes of the Victorian age. Victorian homeowners typically applied harmonies of three to five colors, a style of house that later became known as a "painted lady."

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18340903/

  • paper, cardboard, silk
  • Gift of Herman A. Elsberg
  • sample
  • sample book

This sample card shows the silk dyes available for Autumn 1927. Each color is numbered, but also named, with references to everything from sailor’s slang to French colonies to chocolate-filled cakes. Evocative color names remain an important sales tool today.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18480039/

  • Designed by Henry Dreyfuss
  • brush and gouache, watercolor, silver and gold paint, graphite on white wove paper
  • Gift of University of California, Los Angeles
  • study
  • preparatory
  • advertising
  • pattern
  • symmetry
  • art deco
  • triangles
  • 3D
  • form
  • angular
  • product promotion
  • triangular
  • packaging
  • branding
  • monochromatic

Dreyfuss’s packaging designs for the Hickok Company, purveyors of high quality men’s accessories, feature three different color variations of a dynamic triangular motif. Hickok goods, including belts and wallets, were sold in smartly decorated packaging that functioned as both an ideal gift box and attractive storage.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18654261/

  • Designed by Paula Scher
  • pen and red, black ink, color pencil, red marking pen, collage on tracing paper mounted on board
  • Gift of Paula Scher
  • multicolored
  • music
  • squares
  • geometric
  • primary colors
  • graphic identity

Scher’s inspiration for this record label came from Piet Mondrian’s celebrated 1942–43 painting Broadway Boogie Woogie, a square canvas covered in an irregular grid of primary colors—a response to the street grid of Manhattan and the syncopated beats of jazz music. In this working drawing, the designer calls out the PMS (Pantone Matching System) numbers for each color.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18677455/

  • Designed by Alexander Hayden Girard
  • colored paper, ballpoint pen, color pencil, graphite on blueprint
  • Gift of Alexander H. Girard
  • pattern
  • multicolored
  • furnishing fabric
  • textile design
  • spectrum
  • brocade
  • color system

With a sharp eye for color combinations, architect and designer Alexander Girard presents neutral and brilliant colorways for his textile designs on these color cards, indicating how the colors are to be used in the pattern. Girard painted his own papers before collaging them, controlling all aspects of a color’s representation.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18677457/

  • Designed by Alexander Hayden Girard
  • colored paper, ballpoint pen, color pencil, graphite on blueprint
  • Gift of Alexander H. Girard
  • pattern
  • multicolored
  • furnishing fabric
  • textile design
  • spectrum
  • collage
  • brocade
  • colorways
  • color system

With a sharp eye for color combinations, architect and designer Alexander Girard presents neutral and brilliant colorways for his textile designs on these color cards, indicating how the colors are to be used in the pattern. Girard painted his own papers before collaging them, controlling all aspects of a color’s representation.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18677747/

  • Designed by Alexander Hayden Girard
  • Manufactured by Orinoka Mills
  • rayon, cotton
  • Gift of Alexander H. Girard
  • analogous color

Girard’s exuberant use of color drew on his large collection of folk art. Of the type of color scheme represented here, he later quipped, "In those days a brilliant pink or magenta carried a connotation of a double-barreled horror."

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18677763/

  • Designed by Alexander Hayden Girard
  • Manufactured by Orinoka Mills
  • 46% spun rayon, 24% metallic plastic, 26% cotton, 4% rayon
  • Gift of Alexander H. Girard
  • analogous color

Girard’s exuberant use of color drew on his large collection of folk art. Of the type of color scheme represented here, he later quipped, "In those days a brilliant pink or magenta carried a connotation of a double-barreled horror."

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749955/

  • Smithsonian Libraries
  • color theory
  • color harmony
  • color standards

Farbmesstafel is Ostwald’s color theory translated into the form of a functional color tool. It allowed for easy identification of colors when the cutout windows were held in front of an object. Published in five languages, this was one of the first universal standards used for color matching in printing.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18698057/

  • Manufactured by Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory
  • moulded and glazed porcelain, with enamelled color
  • Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund
  • multicolored
  • radial
  • sample
  • choice
  • color choice
  • teardrop
  • analogous color

This plate is marked "Stelling’s Porcelaensfarver," or Stelling’s Porcelain Colors, in the center, surrounded by samples of glazes in various colors brushed on in small teardrop shapes. Each color has its corresponding code number and could have served as a guide for prospective clients to select colors.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18702033/

  • Manufactured by A. Lacroix & Cie
  • glazed porcelain
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment
  • color gradation
  • sample
  • analogous color

This sample plate shows variations on a limited palette of muted colors, and gives an idea of popular hues for tableware of the period. It also adds to our understanding of the manufacturers’ range of viable glazes for porcelain and how well they fire in the kiln.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18698051/

  • Manufactured by Joseph P. Emery
  • glazed porcelain
  • Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund
  • symmetry
  • multicolored
  • designers
  • ornamental
  • tool
  • stylized
  • color choice
  • analogous color

This plate displays glazes in various colors produced by the Joseph P. Emery Company, a 19th-century manufacturer of colors for the English ceramics industry. The wedge-shaped color fields and decorative scene repeated around the rim, with corresponding code numbers, were a sampling tool enabling Emery to better market its colors.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18698059/

  • glazed earthenware
  • Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund
  • multicolored
  • manufacturers
  • radial
  • color gradation
  • sample
  • choice
  • spectrum
  • analogous color

This spectacular sample plate includes a tint and shade of each color, while a thick band of sheer tan glaze gives a desaturated version of each color. The overall composition gives the illusion of translucent, overlapping color fields.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18702037/

  • Manufactured by Oneida Ltd.
  • molded and glazed earthenware
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment
  • multicolored
  • analogous color

This ceramic plate shows the range of colors available in Oneida’s Buffalo line. During World War II, Oneida supplied dishware to the U.S. government, and thereafter produced wares primarily for commercial use in restaurants, trains, and ships, although many were custom orders.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18702035/

  • glazed porcelain
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment
  • color gradation
  • analogous color

Sample plates give us an idea of the colors and techniques that were fashionable during different historical periods. This French porcelain plate shows shades of gray-green as well as magenta, both of which were popular in the 1880s in France.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108749985/

  • Smithsonian Libraries, QC495 .J33 1946X
  • color theory
  • color harmony
  • color wheel
  • container corporation

The Container Corporation of America’s head of design Egbert Jacobson worked with corporate colorist pioneer Walter Granville to adapt Ostwald’s system into a tool usable by designers and artists. Removable chips, matte on one side and glossy on the other, set this color manual apart.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18434577/

  • Gift of The Color Association of the United States, Inc.
  • grid
  • sales
  • color gradation
  • standardization
  • sample book
  • silk
  • swatches
  • promotional

When World War I deprived American textile producers of quality dyestuffs from Europe, representatives of textile and related industries decided to choose colors themselves. The group created a color card that could be used by related businesses to ensure color consistency across all trades.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18621883/

  • Designed by Ray Kaiser Eames
  • Manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company
  • molded fiberglass-reinforced polyester, bent metal rods, wood, rubber
  • Gift of Barry Friedman and Patricia Pastor
  • interior
  • decoration
  • home
  • seating
  • curved
  • line
  • elegant
  • movement
  • recycling

Because the use of fiberglass for furnishings was so novel, the Eames’s Rocking Arm Chair was originally released only in three colors—gray, parchment, and “greige” (gray-beige)—designed to coordinate with many interiors. But the chair was eventually available to consumers in a much larger palette of colors.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/404734435/

  • Designed by Verner Panton
  • Manufactured by Vitra AG
  • steel,stainless steel, molded plastic, woven wool upholstery
  • Promised gift of George R. Kravis II
  • furniture
  • red
  • seating
  • chair
  • heart-shaped
  • heart

“In kindergarten one learns to love and use colors. Later on, at school and in life, one learns something called taste. For most people this means limiting their use of colors.” (Verner Panton, Notes on Color, 1997) The exaggerated shape of the Heart Cone chair’s back glances coyly toward traditional enveloping wing chairs, but its bright-red upholstery and playful form reveal a pop sensibility.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460835/

  • Designed by Fanette Mellier
  • offset lithograph on paper
  • Gift of Fanette Mellier
  • pattern
  • colors
  • geometric
  • ombre
  • posters
  • color gradation
  • exhibition poster
  • microchip
  • offset lithograph
  • gradient

Though this tapestry of geometric forms may appear to be a vibrant abstraction, Fanette Mellier composed the poster entirely of printers’ control marks, cleverly making her printed work a reflection of the printing process. Registration marks in cyan, magenta, and yellow confirm whether a job is being printed correctly—when layered, the three colors should appear entirely black. Mellier also includes variously sized color bars, tools used to measure color density and consistency while printing.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18468669/

  • cotton
  • soldiers
  • military
  • camouflage

Abbott Thayer’s theory of “disruptive patterning” was the basis for the Frog Skin or 5-color jungle camouflage that was developed by the U.S. military during World War II, and was most widely used by the Marines in the Pacific theater. Its designer was a horticulturist, and the garden editor for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18621771/

  • Designed by David Tisdale
  • anodized aluminum
  • Museum purchase from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund
  • kitchen
  • dining
  • multicolored
  • brightly colored
  • geometric
  • eating
  • portable
  • playful

Tisdale gained acclaim for this flatware with its geometric outlines and rainbow colors, winning the Pantone Color Award in 1988. Color, in the form of metal salts, is deposited in the pores of the anodized metal by passing an electric current through the dye bath.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18621777/

  • Designed by David Tisdale
  • anodized aluminum
  • Museum purchase from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund

Tisdale gained acclaim for this flatware with its geometric outlines and rainbow colors, winning the Pantone Color Award in 1988. Color, in the form of metal salts, is deposited in the pores of the anodized metal by passing an electric current through the dye bath.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18621779/

  • Designed by David Tisdale
  • anodized aluminum
  • Museum purchase from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund

Tisdale gained acclaim for this flatware with its geometric outlines and rainbow colors, winning the Pantone Color Award in 1988. Color, in the form of metal salts, is deposited in the pores of the anodized metal by passing an electric current through the dye bath.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629929/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • textile design
  • colorways
  • arabesque
  • complementary colors

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629951/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • colorways
  • textile designs
  • arabesque
  • complementary colors
  • achromatic color

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629965/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • textile design
  • colorways
  • arabesque
  • complementary colors
  • achromatic color

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629967/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • textile design
  • colorways
  • arabesque
  • complementary colors

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629969/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • textile design
  • colorways
  • arabesque
  • complementary colors

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629971/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • textile design
  • colorways
  • arabesque
  • analogous color

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629973/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • textile design
  • colorways
  • arabesque
  • analogous color

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18629975/

  • Designed by Lotte Frömel-Fochler
  • brush and gouache on paper
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Collections Acquisition and Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Funds
  • flowers
  • textile design
  • colorways
  • arabesque
  • analogous color

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18679287/

  • Designed by Albert Gregory
  • screenprint on heavy off-white wove paper
  • Gift of Tamar Cohen
  • optical effect
  • moiré

This portfolio by Albert Gregory explores the effects of color and pattern interactions. Like Josef Albers, Gregory renders the same design—in this case, concentric circles made of radiating lines—in different colorways, demonstrating how color interactions change the perception of the same form. In the second group of plates, the two images are printed slightly off-register to create the rippled pattern effect known as moiré.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18679291/

  • Designed by Albert Gregory
  • screenprint on heavy off-white wove paper
  • Gift of Tamar Cohen
  • optical effect
  • moiré

This portfolio by Albert Gregory explores the effects of color and pattern interactions. Like Josef Albers, Gregory renders the same design—in this case, concentric circles made of radiating lines—in different colorways, demonstrating how color interactions change the perception of the same form. In the second group of plates, the two images are printed slightly off-register to create the rippled pattern effect known as moiré.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18679293/

  • Designed by Albert Gregory
  • screenprint on heavy off-white wove paper
  • Gift of Tamar Cohen
  • optical effect
  • moiré

This portfolio by Albert Gregory explores the effects of color and pattern interactions. Like Josef Albers, Gregory renders the same design—in this case, concentric circles made of radiating lines—in different colorways, demonstrating how color interactions change the perception of the same form. In the second group of plates, the two images are printed slightly off-register to create the rippled pattern effect known as moiré.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18684697/

  • Designed by Albert Gregory
  • screenprint on acetate and heavy off-white wove paper
  • Gift of Tamar Cohen
  • optical effect
  • moiré

This portfolio by Albert Gregory explores the effects of color and pattern interactions. Like Josef Albers, Gregory renders the same design—in this case, concentric circles made of radiating lines—in different colorways, demonstrating how color interactions change the perception of the same form. In the second group of plates, the two images are printed slightly off-register to create the rippled pattern effect known as moiré.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18730099/

  • Designed by Apple Industrial Design Team
  • Manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc.
  • sheet aluminum, glass, polycarbonate
  • Gift of Apple
  • personal
  • entertainment
  • music
  • digital
  • minimalism
  • portable
  • innovative
  • extrude
  • orange plastic
  • monochromatic

Apple introduced the iPod, an all-white, personal music-player, in 2001, showcasing their now-iconic minimalist aesthetic. By 2009, the firm’s smaller iPod Nano was available in vibrant metallic colors. This shift reflects a change in the market for personal technology devices—a change that allowed for a greater range of choice and personalization.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18757371/

  • Designed by Apple Industrial Design Team
  • Manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc.
  • sheet aluminum, glass, polycarbonate
  • Gift of Apple
  • music
  • industrial design
  • technology
  • rectangular
  • colorful
  • apple

Apple introduced the iPod, an all-white, personal music-player, in 2001, showcasing their now-iconic minimalist aesthetic. By 2009, the firm’s smaller iPod Nano was available in vibrant metallic colors. This shift reflects a change in the market for personal technology devices—a change that allowed for a greater range of choice and personalization.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18757373/

  • Designed by Apple Industrial Design Team
  • Manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc.
  • molded abs plastic and polycarbonate resin, polished stainless steel, aluminum
  • Gift of Apple

Apple introduced the iPod, an all-white, personal music-player, in 2001, showcasing their now-iconic minimalist aesthetic. By 2009, the firm’s smaller iPod Nano was available in vibrant metallic colors. This shift reflects a change in the market for personal technology devices—a change that allowed for a greater range of choice and personalization.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18757375/

  • Designed by Apple Industrial Design Team
  • Manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc.
  • polished anodized aluminum, glass, polycarbonate
  • Gift of Apple

Apple introduced the iPod, an all-white, personal music-player, in 2001, showcasing their now-iconic minimalist aesthetic. By 2009, the firm’s smaller iPod Nano was available in vibrant metallic colors. This shift reflects a change in the market for personal technology devices—a change that allowed for a greater range of choice and personalization.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18757377/

  • Designed by Apple Industrial Design Team
  • Manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc.
  • polished anodized aluminum, glass, polycarbonate
  • Gift of Apple

Apple introduced the iPod, an all-white, personal music-player, in 2001, showcasing their now-iconic minimalist aesthetic. By 2009, the firm’s smaller iPod Nano was available in vibrant metallic colors. This shift reflects a change in the market for personal technology devices—a change that allowed for a greater range of choice and personalization.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18757379/

  • Designed by Apple Industrial Design Team
  • Manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc.
  • polished anodized aluminum, glass, polycarbonate
  • Gift of Apple
  • personal
  • entertainment
  • music
  • digital
  • minimalism
  • portable
  • innovative

This deep red Nano reflects changes in consumer tastes and expectations as much as developments in technology. No longer just a music player, the device has a microphone, FM radio tuner, video camera, and pedometer. The Nano can also store and play visual media on its 2.2-inch color screen.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68814021/

  • Manufactured by Saunders Machine & Tool Corp.
  • molded and emulsion-painted pyrex glass, cast and nickel-plated steel, molded phenolic plastic resin and rubber, fabric (cord)
  • Gift of George R. Kravis II
  • women
  • industrial design
  • color gradation
  • colorful
  • iron

In response to metal shortages during World War II, Saunders Machine & Tool Corporation partnered with Corning Glassworks to develop this Silver Streak iron with a durable and heat-resistant shell and handle of Pyrex. Consumers could choose from a body in red, green, or blue jewel tones that glowed through the colorless glass.

Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1158866081/

  • water
  • rain
  • sample
  • colorways