Themed Book Lists

22 Books on Color and Design

May 15, 2014

Color in theory and practice, from Josef Albers to Pantone—our vintage list from our contributors. Updated August 31, 2019.

Color Psychology and Color Therapy Faber Birren

Examines the history of color symbolism and biological responses to color, among other aspects.

On list 10 Books from the Paul Rand Library.

The Color Revolution Regina Lee Blaszczyk

From the Publisher. When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to “think pink!,” it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue. It is the latest development of a color revolution that has been unfolding for more than a century. In this book, the award-winning historian Regina Lee Blaszczyk traces the relationship of color and commerce, from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design, describing the often unrecognized role of the color profession in consumer culture.

Blaszczyk examines the evolution of the color profession from 1850 to 1970, telling the stories of innovators who managed the color cornucopia that modern artificial dyes and pigments made possible. These “color stylists,” “color forecasters,” and “color engineers” helped corporations understand the art of illusion and the psychology of color. Blaszczyk describes the strategic burst of color that took place in the 1920s, when General Motors introduced a bright blue sedan to compete with Ford’s all-black Model T and when housewares became available in a range of brilliant hues. She explains the process of color forecasting--not a conspiracy to manipulate hapless consumers but a careful reading of cultural trends and consumer taste. And she shows how color information flowed from the fashion houses of Paris to textile mills in New Jersey.

Today professional colorists are part of design management teams at such global corporations as Hilton, Disney, and Toyota. The Color Revolution tells the history of how colorists help industry capture the hearts and dollars of consumers.

Color and Space Sandu Cultural Media

From the Publisher. When applied in masterful brushstrokes to the built environment, color has an incredible visceral impact on human experience of space. While previous titles have looked at the use of color in print design, Color and Space is the logical next volume, focusing entirely on color in architecture and design. The utilization of color in these projects ranges from entire building interior and exteriors painted matching neon green to painted yellow shadows falling poetically beneath table and store fixtures to giant skyscrapers completely covered in purple and white stained glass panels. Types of spaces featured include retail, restaurants, offices, schools and play spaces, museums, and sporting and event facilities. Commissions for Versace, IBM, Godiva Chocolatier, and Louis Vuitton hold their own against sculptural installations such as Olafur Eliasson’s 'rainbow panorama' architectural sky walk on the top level of ARoS Aarhus museum in Denmark - an immersive color wheel in human scale created out of colored glass floor to ceiling windows. Signage, lighting, windows, paint choices, flooring and furniture elements are all considered in this tour of the world’s most remarkable and colorful buildings.

Color Works Eddie Opara
John Cantwell

From the Publisher. This is the go-to guide for designers as it outlines and details the essential color design skills needed to create successful, meaningful, and aesthetically compelling designs. Along with hands-on projects, it offers unique insights into strategy and business when working in the real world with real clients. Color Works starts with basic information on color practices and fundamentals, and then delves more deeply into theory and application on a project-by-project basis. Illustrated with real-world projects and case studies, this book offers a behind-the-scenes take on the design process and the necessary steps to go from concept to final outcome, including the challenges encountered along the way.

Colour Based on Nature Irma Boom

From the Publisher. Color diagrams are derived from 80 natural locations designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is an exercise in describing without words, using instead colors to evoke and celebrate the essence of a place. Detailed information about the World Heritage properties, their selection criteria, how many are inscribed per nation, and in what regions such sites are most endangered makes this an important tribute to the reasons such places exist.

Colour and Light Ulrich Bachmann Editor

From the Publisher. Color and light belong together. But there are hardly any color theories that address the complex interdependence of color and light with a direct and sensuous approach. This is the point of departure for the multimedia publication Colour and Light, consisting of a book and DVD, which with practical examples and theoretical explanations combines the interactions between material colours and light as well as that between dynamic light situations in spatial and virtual contexts.

Digital Colour for the Internet and Other Media Carola Zwick
Burkhard Schmitz
Kerstin Kühl

From the Publisher. The newest entry in the highly regarded E-Design series shows designers how to implement color in a sophisticated way across a range of digital media. Using a primarily visual approach, this guide takes a detailed look at the technical foundations underlying digital and the specifics of color on screen. Open a “color toolbox” to see how each shade works in real-life applications; find out how to improve comfort and readability; discover screen options that would have been impossible on paper; and even learn the meanings different cultures attach to color.

A Field Guide to Color Lisa Solomon

From the Publisher. Color is one of the most profound ways we have to express our personalities. In this creative workbook you’ll discover fresh ways to connect with color in your art and life. Using watercolors, gouache, or any other water-based medium, explore color theory while playing with paint through a balanced blend of color experiments and loose color meditations. Make a personal color wheel while exploring tints and shades. Experiment with color mixing while you make as many of one color as you can. Through playful prompts and artistic examples—with lots of room for painting—this inspiring workbook will change the way you relate to color.


Historical Color Guide: Primitive to Modern Times with Thirty Plates in Color Elizabeth Burris-Meyer

The 30 plates feature 150 color samples inked directly with rollers on heavy paper, cut and mounted for this edition. The historical styles include Egyptian, Cretan, Greek, Italian Renaissance, English Victorian, American sampler, Modern (Gauguin), and others.

Interaction of Color: 50th Anniversary Edition Josef Albers
Foreword by Nicholas Fox Weber

From the Publisher. Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color is a masterwork in art education. Conceived as a handbook and teaching aid for artists, instructors, and students, this influential book presents Albers’s singular explanation of complex color theory principles.

Originally published by Yale University Press in 1963 as a limited silkscreen edition with 150 color plates, Interaction of Color first appeared in paperback in 1971, featuring ten color studies chosen by Albers, and has remained in print ever since. With over a quarter of a million copies sold in its various editions since 1963, Interaction of Color remains an essential resource on color, as pioneering today as when Albers first created it.

Fifty years after Interaction’s initial publication, this new edition presents a significantly expanded selection of close to sixty color studies alongside Albers’s original text, demonstrating such principles as color relativity, intensity, and temperature; vibrating and vanishing boundaries; and the illusion of transparency and reversed grounds. A celebration of the longevity and unique authority of Albers’s contribution, this landmark edition will find new audiences in studios and classrooms around the world.

Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Colors Jonathan Adler

A tour of some of the most colorful rooms imaginable, from True Blue to Going Rouge, and advice from Adler on his favorite paint chips, fabrics, and color inspiration.

Palette 01: Black & White viction:ary

From the Publisher. Creatives’ love for black and white is a constant. Once the height of image-making and now a creative attitude, the austerely simple yet expressive black-and-white enthralls designers for its stack contrast and evocative power in graphics and text that no other colors can attain.

Black & White presents a new focus on monochromatic graphic design. Be it a brand element, an aesthetic statement, or a low-cost solution, the 130 examples of print art, brand design, art installations, and fashion items in this book manifest the versatility and dramatic appearance of black-and-white blended with photography, special printing, and sometimes shadows and light. In words and selected creative projects, the core of what is a global movement today expounds on a conscious decision to adhere to this limited palette to create, despite the exhilarating color trends and the many high-quality color printing options available.

Palette 02: Multicolour viction:ary

From the Publisher. Our eyes are naturally attracted to colors. Individually, color elicits an incredibly broad range of emotions and responses in humans. In profusion, they become a new vocabulary with distinct sensations, dependent on context and use.

Looking at visual communication solutions based on a rich palette, this book amasses an array of identity systems, stationery, art direction, installations, and environmental graphics that feature a blend of colors in one place. Through the colorful showcase, the book lends a striking perspective to what makes color a practical and powerful tool to simplify ideas and catch people’s eyes from near and far.

Multicolour is the sequel of Black & White from viction:ary’s color-themed series, PALETTE, at the other extreme.

Palette 03: Gold & Silver viction:ary

From the Publisher. Gold and silver always incite a peculiar curiosity in humans with their mesmerizing gleam. Unlike colors perceivable under normal light, metallic colors add luster to surfaces as they shine even in the dimmest light. Historical uses of precious metals such as gold, silver, and bronze connoted deity, wealth, and brilliance and have endowed these shining tones with the same characteristics.

Advanced techniques and cheaper production costs today however make it necessary for designers to use metallic tones with greater sensitivity. Followi Black & White and Multicolor, Gold & Silver is the third of viction:ary's color-themed series PALETTE, which focuses on the dynamic play of metallic ink and materials in graphic designs. Featuring a vast collection of direct mail pieces, stationery, catalogues, event brochures, corporate identities, etc., the book is a survey of the ways in which designers capture the essence of commitment, visions, valued traditions, or simply the glittery appeal in different guises of gold, silver, and copper tones. Techniques include gilding, pure gold plating, metallic coatings, anodizing, and more.

Palette 04: Neon viction:ary

#1 Design Seller at Beautiful Pages, Sydney, Australia (January 2014).

From the Publisher. This fourth volume in the highly successful Palette series by Victionary examines the brightest palette yet neon. Like its original inspiration, the neon lightbulb, the tints associated with this range of colors are suffused with an inner glow. Though there were earlier appearances in the last century, notably the paintings of Andy Warhol, neon hit its stride in the 1980s appropriated as an aesthetic of the punk rock movement for its boldness. While trends in art and design are often cyclical through time, they are also capable of lateral transmission, readily informing other design disciplines upon their reappearance. Embraced anew by contemporary fashionistas, neon has experienced a marked comeback in the hands of designers. Encompassing all aspects of design from fashion and graphic, to product, furniture, and interior, this title comes in three alternate neon covers: green, pink, and orange.

Pantone: The 20th Century in Color Leatrice Eiseman
Keith Recker

# 1 Design Best Seller at Labyrinth Books, Princeton, NJ (December 2013).

From the Publisher. Pantone, the worldwide color authority, invites you on a rich visual tour of 100 transformative years. From the Pale Gold (15-0927 TPX) and Almost Mauve (12-2103 TPX) of the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris to the Rust (18-1248 TPX) and Midnight Navy (19-4110 TPX) of the countdown to the Millennium, the 20th century brimmed with color. Longtime Pantone collaborators and color gurus Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker identify more than 200 touchstone works of art, products, d cor, and fashion, and carefully match them with 80 different official PANTONE color palettes to reveal the trends, radical shifts, and resurgences of various hues. This vibrant volume takes the social temperature of our recent history with the panache that is uniquely Pantone.

Pantone: 35 Inspirational Color Palletes Pantone

From the Publisher. In this handy fan deck, international color authority Pantone takes the guesswork out of using color in bold and innovative new ways, sharing the wisdom that has made their professional products an essential resource around the globe.

ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color Jude Stewart

From the Publisher. Color is all around us every day. We use it to interpret the world—red means stop, blue means water, orange means construction. But it is also written into our metaphors, of speech and thought alike: yellow means cowardice; green means envy—unless you’re in Germany, where yellow means envy, and you can be “beat up green and yellow.”

Jude Stewart, a design expert and writer, digs into this rich subject with gusto. What color is the universe? We might say it’s black, but astrophysicists think it might be turquoise. Unless it’s beige. To read about color from Jude Stewart is to unlock a whole different way of looking at the world around us—and bringing it all vividly to life.

The book itself is organized around the rainbow and is lavishly designed, with cross-references that liven up each page. (Follow the thread of imperialism, for example, from the pink-colored colonies on maps of the British Empire to the green wallpaper that might have killed Napoleon.) A lovingly packaged, distinctive book, it will be the only one of its kind.

ROY G. BIV is a reference and inspiration for designers and artists, as well as a unique, beautiful, and irresistible book for just about anyone.

The Secret Language of Color Joann Eckstut

# 1 Design Best Seller at Labyrinth Books, Princeton, NJ (January 2014).

From the Publisher. In this beautiful and thorough investigation, The Secret Language of Color celebrates and illuminates the countless ways in which color colors our world.

Why is the sky blue, the grass green, a rose red? Most of us have no idea how to answer these questions, nor are we aware that color pervades nearly all aspects of life, from the subatomic realm and the natural world to human culture and psychology.

Organized into chapters that begin with a fascinating explanation of the physics and chemistry of color, The Secret Language of Color travels from outer space to Earth, from plants to animals to humans. In these chapters we learn about how and why we see color, the nature of rainbows, animals with color vision far superior and far inferior to our own, how our language influences the colors we see, and much more. Between these chapters, authors Joann Eckstut and Ariele Eckstut turn their attention to the individual hues of the visible spectrum—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet—presenting each in fascinating, in-depth detail.

Including hundreds of stunning photographs and dozens of informative, often entertaining graphics, every page is a breathtaking demonstration of color and its role in the world around us. Whether you see red, are a shrinking violet, or talk a blue streak, this is the perfect book for anyone interested in the history, science, culture, and beauty of color in the natural and man-made world.

Theory of Colours Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

From the Publisher. By the time Goethe's Theory of Colours appeared in 1810, the wavelength theory of light and color had been firmly established. To Goethe, the theory was the result of mistaking an incidental result for an elemental principle. Far from pretending to a knowledge of physics, he insisted that such knowledge was an actual hindrance to understanding. He based his conclusions exclusively upon exhaustive personal observation of the phenomena of color.

Goethe's scientific conclusions have, of course, long since been thoroughly demolished, but the intelligent reader of today may enjoy this work on quite different grounds: for the beauty and sweep of his conjectures regarding the connection between color and philosophical ideas; for an insight into early 19th-century beliefs and modes of thought; and for the flavor of life in Europe just after the American and French Revolutions.

The work may also be read as an accurate guide to the study of color phenomena. Goethe's conclusions have been repudiated, but no one quarrels with his reporting of the facts to be observed. With simple objects—vessels, prisms, lenses, and the like—the reader will be led through a demonstration course not only in subjectively produced colors, but also in the observable physical phenomena of color. By closely following Goethe's explanations of the color phenomena, the reader may become so divorced from the wavelength theory—Goethe never even mentions it—that he may begin to think about color theory relatively unhampered by prejudice, ancient or modern.

Tricia Guild: Colour Deconstructed Tricia Guild

From the Publisher. "Colour makes the heart sing, touches the soul and gives joy to the spirit. Searching for this special feeling is my life’s passion." — Tricia Guild

Tricia Guild: Decorating with Color Tricia Guild

From the Publisher. One of the world’s foremost interior designers focuses on color and its use in creating truly evocative personal interiors. For forty years, Tricia Guild has set the pace with her acclaimed interiors and up-to-the-minute collections of fabrics, wallpapers, and furnishings. She is celebrated for her extraordinary gift for combining bold patterns, chinoiserie, and Indian influences with contemporary lines and an impeccable sense of color that has made her one of the most sought-after interior designers today. Here, she shares her systematic approach to understanding and working with color, pattern, and texture, exploring themes that shape and inspire her stylish and sensuous yet playful sensibility. She begins by defining her notion of five basic color families and then demonstrates how to use color and pattern with impact and confidence to create glamorous, dramatic environments. With a knack for beautiful and dramatic spaces that do not sacrifice comfort, Tricia Guild shares her years of experience in creating memorable living spaces. Examples from her own acclaimed designs coupled with stunning original photography of real-world examples from all over the globe—from contemporary London lofts to coastal New England cottages and California Wine Country estates—complements a text rich in insight from the designer’s perspective.

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