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Colour & Materials
Published: 27 Jun 2017

Breathing Colour Exhibition by Hella Jongerius

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Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius

London’s Design Museum is hosting an installation-based exhibition by renowned Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius that questions our perception of colour.

Drawing on decades of research by Jongerius herself, Breathing Colour explores how varying light conditions affect the behaviour of colour through a study of form, material, shadow and reflection. The impressive exhibition is divided into spaces that represent daylight at different times of the day (morning, noon and evening), with 3D shapes and textiles positioned to demonstrate the colour reactions.

Jongerius, whose work combines craft and tradition with industrial processes, specially created 3D objects called Colour Catchers as tools to help study and understand colour. Made by folding complex cardboard patterns, the shapes have varying faceted surfaces that absorb and reflect colour, with the individual facets showing the shift between colour shades.

The exhibition addresses the phenomenon of metamerism, where the same colour sample appears to change under different light sources, which is often seen as problematic (and avoided) within the design world. 

“I want to make a plea for embracing metamerism. As a designer, I want to make a plea for plastics, varnishes and paints to use layered pigments that provide intense colours that are allowed to breathe with changing light,” says Jongerius. 

Existing works from the archives of her design studio JongeriusLab are also included in the exhibition.

Breathing Colour aims to open up our experiences of colour, something that Jongerius argues has been narrowed by industrialisation. The exhibition highlights the complexity of colour theory while revealing and celebrating its true potential. It runs until 24 September. 

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