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Architecting Color: Emmanuelle Moureaux


By Jill Pilaroscia

More items for Color + Design

This week, we want to introduce you to a fantastic architect with a commitment to color.

Emmanuelle Moureaux, a French native living and working in Tokyo since 1996, is an architect and designer with a passion for color.

Her work takes color seriously as an integral part of spaces and buildings, not as an afterthought.

© Emmanuelle Moureaux

The driving ethos of her studio is shikiri, a made-up word meaning “to divide space using colors.”

Her goal is to use color to deepen and enrich simple spaces—to “use colors as three-dimensional elements, like layers, in order to create spaces, not as a finishing touch applied to surfaces.”

Her intimate understanding of color is clear in her work, as with this project: the Kyoto University Hospital Clinical Research Center.

© Emmanuelle Moureaux

Using color combinations that resemble landscapes, she brings soothing natural influences to a space that might otherwise be teeming with stress or fear—neither of which contributes to good healing outcomes for patients.

Her use of color is not limited to bright saturated colors; neutrals also feature prominently in her designs.

This calming, yet professional, exam room (below) is a great example of the power of white and neutrals paired with one dot of color.
The warm beige, blonde wood, and white stripes extract this medical setting from the realm of the clinical and make it instead a gentle, welcoming space.
© Emmanuelle Moureaux

Moureaux's latest project was a colorful space for this year's Shinjuku Creators Festa in Japan. The project was inspired by the traditional Japanese sliding screen.

Dividing space in architecture often focuses on slicing vertically, using walls, dividers and pathways. But here, Moureaux counterintuitively enlivens the space by bringing the ceiling down to head height.

© Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners

Her dividing of the space applied horizontally compresses the open air to a sliver of space along the floor. The experience is cave-like, but offers a rippling growth of color overhead.

Her work is a rich exploration of the importance of integrating color directly with shape in architectural environments—and a real treat for all of us who love color.


Jill Pilaroscia

“Life in Color” is co-authored by architectural color consultant Jill Pilaroscia (pictured), BFA, and creative writer Allison Serrell. Pilaroscia’s firm, Colour Studio Inc., is based in San Francisco. A fully accredited member of the International Association of Color Consultants, Pilaroscia writes and lectures widely on the art and science of color.



Tagged categories: Architecture; Color; Design

Comment from Frank H. Mahnke, (1/15/2014, 5:21 AM)

Perhaps nicely done or decorative but unfortunately without any knowledge of the scientific research that has been done on human reaction to the built environment. Especially from the neuropsychological standpoint of the five major components of color ergonomics that in addition must consider emotional loading (psychosomatic connection), psychological effects and visual ergonomics.

Comment from Martin Rose, (7/7/2014, 9:28 AM)

"Architecting" is not a verb. Using it as such in a reputable publication is offensive. Shame on you. I did not even consider reading the article as a result.

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