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The Ins and Outs of Color Blocking

TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014

By Jill Pilaroscia

More items for Color + Design

Often, when we are thinking about color in our daily lives, it’s from the visual perspective of seeing a brilliant turquoise on a passing stranger’s shirt, a particularly striking ad, or a colorful architectural paint job.

We get enticed by concentrated swathes of color. Knowing this is helpful when you are starting to work on orchestrating color.

Color Blocking
Photos: Courtesy of Jill Pilaroscia

Today we wanted to introduce you to one technique for manipulating color, whether  for fashion, architecture, interior or graphic design.

Color blocking is exactly what it sounds like: a design technique that groups blocks of color together. It is a great technique for designers to try out different color combinations while building their overall understanding of design and color choices.

Color Blocking

For example, imagine the building above with an all-white facade or even an all-purple facade. The building may still have been bold and decidedly high contrast, but nothing to write home about.

Here, the designer abandoned the notion of a solid color stretching across the entire exterior wall and instead broke up the monotonous volume with three-tone color blocking, giving the flat facade a multifaceted and color-derived texture. 

Color Blocking

Here (above), what could have been a bold front elevation even in all white instead enjoys color blocking in a spectrum of colors. The scheme draws the eye from the top panel in a near-perfect sky blue through the spectrum of warm color, finally to the fully transparent entryway.

The flapjack stack design invites the viewer to get a closer look by concealing and revealing different color in layers. 

Color blocking is a simple system with eye-catching results primarily because much of our visual world is made up of squares, rectangles and right angles.

Color Blocking

Color blocking breaks up flat spaces and errant walls and helps incorporate rectilinear elements like counters and shelves in to the overall feel of a space.

But while simple lines and rectangular blocks are color blocking's forte, it can, if you are feeling adventurous, also add energy to dull or underused spaces.

It all depends on the colors you choose, the size of the blocks, and how you work those crucial juxtapositions in the environment.


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: Aesthetics; Architecture; Artists; Building design; Color; Color selection; Color trends; Design; Interior design

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