The web is very blue. Not metaphorically. The Internet’s most heavily trafficked websites are literally colored with nearly twice as many shades of blue as shades of yellow and red, and three times as much green.

Designer Paul Hebert wanted to see what he could learn from the color palettes of the web’s most popular websites. Hebert hopes to expand his analysis to include the 100—or even 1,000—most-visited web pages. “This site is meant to be a living document that I plan to update regularly,” he says. Also in the works: country-specific lists. “Once I have the data I hope to use it to answer some deep questions I have about color and design,” he says. “Like, whether this is an intrinsic aspect of human nature, or whether it varies across cultures and time.”
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For 20 years, the solar power industry has been focused on developing highly efficient and less expensive technology to encourage integration into our power infrastructure. But what if a company decided to follow the lead of innovators such as Apple and Tesla to approach solar power from a design perspective? What if solar power were beautiful?

Two Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate students decided to do just that. Out of their initiative, a new solar company has emerged called Sistine Solar, which places the emphasis on creative design and the look of the product, while ensuring that the functionality is equally viable.

 
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The Happy Yellow house of Dan Trachtman in Takoma Park

“It [color] makes people happy, like listening to music. It makes them feel good,” says architect Suzane Reatig, who designed 625 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The long, low apartment building is clad in deep gray siding accented with orange, red and magenta panels. None of it is painted, Reatig explains, but is a colorfast, weather-resistant, durable (and pricey) Dutch construction material called Trespa. “We like our buildings to last a long time,” she says.

And that's not the only Dutch color in DC. When landscape designer Nicolien Van Schouwen and her family moved to their Takoma Park cottage, they had the red brick painted white. For contrast, the shutters got dramatic red harlequin diamonds, while the porch pillars and front door became solid scarlet. But during a trip to her native Netherlands, founded by William of Orange in the 16th century, she decided to celebrate her roots by changing the reds to orange, trimmed in deep teal. “Kids would stop and say, ‘I love the colors.’ The adults would say, ‘very interesting,’ which is polite American for ‘I would never do that.’ ”


Nicolien Van Schouwen's home in Takoma Park.

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The most unusual colors from Harvard's storied pigment library include beetle extracts, poisonous metals, and human mummies.

Today, every color imaginable is at your fingertips. You can peruse paint swatches at hardware stores, flip through Pantone books, and fuss with the color finder that comes with most computer programs, until achieving the hue of your heart's desire. But rewind to a few centuries ago and finding that one specific color might have meant trekking to a single mineral deposit in remote Afghanistan—as was the case with lapis lazuli, a rock prized for its brilliant blue hue, which made it more valuable than gold in medieval times.

The history of pigments goes back to prehistoric times, but much of what we know about how they relate to the art world comes from Edward Forbes, a historian and director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University from 1909 to 1944. Considered the father of art conservation in the United States, Forbes traveled around the world amassing pigments in order to authenticate classical Italian paintings. Over the years, the Forbes Pigment Collection—as his collection came to be known—grew to more than 2,500 different specimens, each with its own layered backstory on its origin, production, and use.

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At major museums around the world, color experts train their discerning eye on the walls behind the artwork.

White walls may reign supreme at art galleries, but at major art museums, colored walls are standard practice. And while you might be hard-pressed to remember what color the walls were at the last museum you visited, that forgettable hue was the result of months of consultation, deliberation, color mixing, and testing.

Who chooses these carefully crafted colors? The task typically falls to the show's curator, who in turn consults with the expert colorists at a paint company to choose the perfect shade to serve as a backdrop to some of the most famous artworks of all time. Sometimes, they even create the color from scratch.

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