colour workshop

Today we ran a colour workshop with our first year students to get them to understand colour in terms of Hue, Value and Chroma, based on Munsell’s system. The students were asked to come to class wearing a coloured top. After a lecture explaining colour and how it can be used in space, the students had to put their learning in practice, first by identifying the colour they were wearing, and then by arranging themselves in different configurations.

Students arranged themselves into a colour wheel including value

Then they looked at monochromatic colour palettes

they had to find their complementary

And had to create harmonius colour pallettes

The students then decided to show how multicultural we are

Tent & Superbrand 2012


Tent is a more laid back version of 100% with mostly small/independents designer makers exhibiting product & surface designs. It’s at the Truman Brewery, part of the London Design Festival. These are a few snapshots from the show (apologies for the quality, I took them with my phone and the lighting levels were quite low) and more information is available on the event website.

Seminar 1: the evolution of the colour green: 2011 to 2014 by Global Colour Research

Global Colour Research is a company that, in their own word, ‘help businesses choose the right colour’, working on exhibitions, trade shows, colour consultancy & trend forecasting for fashion, products, interiors, etc.

Colour forecasting has always slightly puzzled me because I imagined a group of people sitting around a table making decisions about colour we should wear or have in our homes every season on our behalf. Colour as a lifestyle accessory. It sounds trivial but it’s actually a serious business that influences and defines the mood of the nation into neat segments of time.

So, this is how it works. At Global Colour they forecast colours 2 years in advance and work with industry experts – interior designers, fashion designers, car industry specialists, product designers, paint manufacturers, etc – from all over the world to discuss and predict future trends. The role of the experts is to provide information on what they consider will be the next cultural or lifestyle shifts and develop a colour palette to reflect these.

Today’s seminar focussed on the colour green and the speaker went through trend forecasting from 2011 to 2014. The trend is adjusted every season so I won’t go through all of them but here is an example given at the seminar:

BLEEP ‘one of the four trends in Autumn Winter 2012/2013 forecasted by Global Colour Research, Bleep looks into retro technology with a twenty-first century twist. Punchy green brings a youthful feel, adding excitement to deep blue and grey alongside intense primaries. This is a trend with a sense of humour and playful style is key.

Early predictions back in 2010 saw flashes of bright colour transforming consumer electronics. This trend also  shows the power of unexpected combinations; bright green teamed with accents of red and yellow and grounded by brushed steel became significant for the interiors industry. 2012/2013 sees green evolve and gain an air of sophistication.’

We were told that the experts, although from different parts of the world, tend to arrive at similar conclusions, which to me perhaps suggests a reflection on the globalisation of the planet. We also learnt that the company monitors the effectiveness of its predictions but surely, if their role is to advise industry who inevitably adopt these trends, isn’t it a self-fulfilling prophecy? I certainly know now why my mother cannot find a match for the blue wallpaper she bought sometimes in the 90s.

Seminar 2: Made to order: Systems around services

This seminar explored design customisation from the point of view of co-design. Moving on from user centred design, co-design offers an opportunity for the designer, client and very importantly, customer or end-user, to fully participate in the design process. The result is a tailor-made approach to design addressing the unique viewpoints of individual situations and contexts.

This open source approach re-thinks the relationship between design and the public as a way to better fulfill dreams and aspirations. This isn’t a trend but, according to the speakers, a ‘valued way of working that reflects the move from 20th century mass-production to 21st century mass-consumption’. Customisation of commerce, style, messages, etc.

The first speaker was Mary Rose Cook from Uscreates (Twitter: @uscreates). They work to empower society through the value and process of co-design to have a social impact, improve public behaviour, lifestyle, services, etc. To achieve this requires a close collaboration on design projects between client, designers and users. In a nutshell, the first step is to identify the problem (not as easy as it sounds), then identify different solutions and finally they help deliver the outcome. It’s important that the people who participate in the co-design process understand what’s being asked of them, what their contribution should be and the purpose of the work. There are a lot of issues at stake so the company is also developing ethical tools for collaboration.

The second speaker was from Think Public, a consultancy that aims to tackle big social problems with creativity, look differently at challenges and ask questions others have not thought about. There are different sets of skills designers need to equip themselves with and a key factor in co-design is the ability to listen and facilitate. Other qualities required are a balanced mix of business and idealism, compassion and sensitivity, fun and the ability to empower others.

The Design Council on co-design