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Chromophobia: Colour in Architecture

Join a panel of designers, architects, artists and scientists to explore the influence of colour on our physical environment.

What to expect

A rejection of colour has come to characterise the aesthetic of modern architecture. White and monochromatic tones are often seen as the antithesis of purity, honesty and authenticity. Colour by contrast tends to be regarded as imposing, distracting and excessive.

In his book ‘Chromophobia’ (fear of colour), the artist David Batchelor argues that colour has been the object of extreme prejudice in Western architecture. In his view, it is colour’s unpredictable nature and ability to contaminate and corrupt that we fear the most. And to overcome this fear, we try to control colour by limiting its use, or disregarding it altogether.

What are our other motivations behind chromophobia? What is the social and cultural significance of our fixation with white? And how has architecture’s relationship to colour affected our understanding of the world?

This talk brings together practitioners and academics across the field of art, design, architecture and science to discuss these questions in the round.

The event coincides with the Design Museum exhibition ‘Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius’.

Image credit | Courtesy of Space Popular

Image credit | Courtesy of Space Popular

Image credit | Courtesy of Space Popular

Image credit | Courtesy of Space Popular

Image credit | Courtesy of Space Popular

Image credit | Courtesy of Space Popular

David Kohn. Photographer credit: Will Pryce

David Kohn. Photographer credit: Will Pryce

David Kohn. Photographer credit: Will Pryce

David Kohn. Photographer credit: Will Pryce

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Booking information

Adult £10, student/ concession £7.50, Members £9

SPEAKERS

Shumi Bose

Shumi Bose is a teacher, curator and editor based in London. She is a senior lecturer in Contextual Studies for BA Architecture at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and teaches History and Theory Studies at the Architectural Association. She also works as a Curator of Exhibitions at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg

Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg are graduates founded Space Popular in Bangkok in 2012. Their design and research studio Tools for Architecture investigates topics such as masonry structures, space of political debate, renewable materials and virtual architecture. In 2016 they launched Tools for Architecture, a module at the Architecture Association.

David Batchelor

David Batchelor is a London-based artist and writer whose work of the last two decades is principally concerned with the experience of colour in the modern city.

David Kohn

David Kohn is an architect and Director of David Kohn Architects. The practice specialises in spaces for art and education. Current projects include a new photography centre for the V&A, a refurbishment of the Institute of Contemporary Arts and a new quad for New College Oxford.

Related exhibition

Hella Jongerius: Breathing Colour

Drawing on years of research, designer Hella Jongerius presents an installation-based exhibition that take a deeper look at the way colour behaves, exploring shapes, materials, shadows and reflections.

Background image | Coloured vases series 3, oranges-®Gerrit_Schreurs