Research Task

Can I find other designers that use colour as a core part of their designs?

Miles Redd is known for his bold and cinematic approach to designs. His career has influenced his designs which have a really strong connection with the fashion world and well known by the lovers of luxury. After graduating from New York University he worked with antique dealer John Rosselli and the famous decorator Bunny Williams. In 1998, he opened his own interior design firm in New York City’s NoHo neighbourhood. Although known for his injection of colour he also has an awareness of how spaces and furniture fit together, he has designed pared back spaces but adds playful areas with that touch of colour. These designs are just beautiful, full of fun and character, warm and inviting yet luxurious and high end designs compliment the colour within that space.

Fig. 1 – Images of Miles Redd’s spatial designs

Nicola Harding started her career as a garden designer and is known for creating comfortable, inviting and atmospheric spaces. Historic buildings and set design fascinate and inspire her which both evoke such a specific feeling and lots of nostalgia. This is so important when getting to know her clients as she sets out to design interiors with a sense of place and belonging. My creative influences are very similar, I’m inspired by the buildings and outdoor spaces around us, I’m intrigued by the people who use or reside in the buildings, how they use the space, how these spaces make them feel.

Fig. 2 – Images of Nicola Harding’s spatial designs

Designers such as John Pawson are known for this type of pared-back approach or visual and spatial feel. Sometimes the perception has been that this type of space is cold, empty or not-homely and uncomfortable. But would the simple addition of coloured surfaces change this or is there more to be considered? Before adding colour you would need to consider the room itself, who uses it and what is its intention. What material is the furniture made from. This way you get a better understanding of its original purpose without compromising on the design. From this information you could bring in some colour in the shape of artwork and/or furnishings but not until you have a full understanding of the brief.

A very simplistic, clean and modern room interior featuring a small fireplace and two armchairs.
Fig. 3 – John Pawson, House. Photograph by Ndecam: Creative Commons


Fig. 1 – Images of Miles Redd’s spatial designs and (accessed 27.7.22)

Fig. 2 – Images of Nicola Harding’s spatial designs (accessed 27.7.22)

Fig. 3 – John Pawson, House. Photograph by Ndecam: Creative Commons – OCA course content (accessed 27.7.22)

Project 3: Understanding the Use of Colour

I carried out some research on the history of colour theorists. Early studies of the nature of colour began with Aristotle who in 330 B.C. arranged five chromatic colours on a line between black and white, in this image it shows that the lighter colours begin with yellow close to white and darker colours begin with blue close to black.

Fig. 1 – Aristotle’s Linear system of colour theory
Fig. 2 – Aristotle’s colour theory drawing

Aristotle believed that God sent down the colours from heaven as celestial rays. He identified four colours corresponding to four elements: earth, fire, wind and water. These four elements are what we know today as earth being associated with brown and green, wind associated with blue, white, yellow or grey, fire is often red or orange and water is mostly associated with the colour blue.

In the 1400’s Leonardo de Vinci was the first to suggest an alternative hierarchy of colour. He saw that although philosophers viewed white as the receiver of colours and black as the absence of colour, that both were essential colours with white representing light and black the darkness. The six colours he listed were in this order: white, yellow, green, blue, red and black, which you can also in Fig. 1.

More recent theorists such as Frank H Mahnke who is an architectural consultant for architectural projects has devoted his life to the study of colour to help designers create healthier built environments. He has written that human reaction depends on a multitude of factors, and that firstly we must consider that in choosing appropriate surface colours much depends on the specific hue, its value and intensity. He also reminds us that where colour is placed and how much of it, for what purpose and the length of time it will be in that place should all be taken into account. The world needs more people like this, to help guide students in the right direction and to help make the right healthier choices when designing for today’s environment.

Linda Holtzschue is a principal of a design firm based in New York City and writes that more changes have taken place in the way designers approach colour in the last few decades than have occurred in the last few centuries. This is mainly due to the shift in technology, colour is now a whole new world and at times a very confusing one. Her most recent book ‘Understanding Color’ is learning to see in the new way as well as the old.

I’m currently reading The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair who is an author, design and culture writer based in London. One of her opening pages writes that colour is fundamental to our experiences of the world around us, but how is that we see these things? Her explanation is clear and concise, she adds that what we are really seeing when we look at objects of colour is light being reflected off the surface and into our eyes. Different things are different colours because they absorb some wavelengths of the visible light spectrum while others bounce off. In this book she explains everything so simply which I find easy to understand without being bogged down by the science of it all! She then goes on to write about different colours, shades and the history and stories behind each one. When I consider colours now I pick up the book and read the chapter that applies to that particular colour, it’s an interesting fun read giving a different meaning to colour, adding character and depth to my thoughts on design and colour.


Fig. 1 – Aristotle’s Linear system of colour theory (accessed 25/7/22)

Fig. 2 – Aristotle’s colour theory drawing (accessed 25/7/22)

Exercise 1

Experimenting with colour

To explore the spatial effects of particular colours, I have drawn a simple perspective showing the far end of a room with two walls either side, a ceiling, a window and a floor. I made six copies of this drawing and then painted each space using acrylic paint with similar or different colours, I chose to work with 3 different shades of green, black, brown, yellow, orange and blue. To be honest I didn’t have any other different colours in my paint box and so I was limited but I think I’ve managed to create different perspectives of the same space. I covered all five other rooms with a piece of paper so that I could get a better idea of how I felt the room and the colours made me feel. I have added the images below and given each one a letter with my comments alongside each one. Each of the spaces look different and this is because of the use of colour, the shade of colour, the darker the shade the more dramatic the space looks but not necessarily the most impressive or attractive.

Fig. 1 – A collection of six identical sized rooms painted in different colours to show different perspectives
Fig. 2 A A black wall at the back of the room doesn’t draw me in, it makes me stop and consider the brighter colours on the wall and the ceiling but walk not further, the room feels longer.
Fig. 3 – B I’m drawn straight way to the back wall and enjoying the journey of the bright yellow on the floor, the green walls direct my eye to the back while the blue ceiling adds mystery and an outdoor feeling.
Fig. 4 – C This room somehow feels longer, not sure whether its the white wall to the left or the dark brown floor all the while my eye is drawn to the orange wall at the back.
Fig. 5 – D This perspective makes me consider the environment, the green and blue tones are the reason for that but it feels jolly!
Fig. 6 – E I’m confused by the left wall and the floor, they are both the same colour and merge as one but it feels disjointed and shorter than the other rooms.
Fig. 7 – F This perspective makes me feel happy, the bright yellow and orange tones fill my heart and the two yellow tones adjacent to each other work much better than the darker shades in room E. The room also feels longer.

I enjoyed this exercise, it gave me a chance to work with colours that I wouldn’t normally consider painting on walls, floors and ceilings. It’s also reminded me of an exhibition that I attended recently, The Van Gogh Exhibition, The Immersive experience. One of his famously painted rooms is full of colour but was shown in three different perspectives. The furniture pieces have different brightness and colour contrast. As Van Gogh says “paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul”. The rooms are almost identical but by changing the pigmentation of the paint colours changes the whole perspective of the image.

Fig. 8 – An image at the Vincent Van Gogh Immersive Experience Exhibition
Fig. 9 – A Vincent Van Gogh Painting at the Exhibition

What a wonderful quote, ‘What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything.’ Having learnt about colour and chromophobia in this part of the unit has reinforced my love of colour and encouraged me to believe in the use of colour and learn when it’s the right time and design to do so.


Fig. 1 – 7 My own drawings and paintings of a room perspective

Fig. 8 and 9 – My own photographs taken at the Vincent Van Gogh Immersive Experience Exhibition 2022

Research Task

Johannes Itten

I watched a video lecture on Johannes Itten and the use of colour. Itten was a Swiss painter and teacher who worked at the Bauhaus in 1919, where he taught his students about the basic concepts of colours, materials and compositions and he developed colour theories learning from theorists before him. Through his own research he identified seven fundamental categories of contrast which are hue, light-dark, cold-warm, complementary, simultaneous, saturation and extension. He encouraged exploration of colour through contrasts urging students to feel their own way into an exercise, which revealed different personalties and aesthetic choices. His education of colour using the 12 part colour circle that he constructed using the primary colours yellow, red and blue he then added mixed colours to the triangle in the centre that created secondary colours, thereafter comes the tertiary colours.

Fig. 1 – Johannes Itten’s colour wheel

He then would get his students to look at the 7 colour contrasts he identified; hue, light-dark, cold-warm, complementary, analogous, saturation, and extension. He constructed this in a careful specific way so that the colours didn’t lean towards either primary component and encouraged his students to mix specific colours together to strengthen their knowledge of the use of colour. This way of ordering colour set up a rule book that would then try to determine the exact effect of placing one colour next to another.

Fig. 2 – Johannes Itten’s colour contrasting

He believed that to become a master of colour you must see, feel and experience each colour in its many endless combinations. For interior design purposes it’s important to understand cold to warm contrast which suggests closeness and distance, as well as simultaneous contrast which shows the way in which two colours affect each other, the colours themselves don’t change but we see them alter. This lecture was interesting, I already had an understanding of how colours make me feel, I believe that colours play a part on our emotions but that we as humans, can also feel so differently towards the same colour. We have the colour theory fundamentals in place, we can learn to understand how colours compliment one another, how one colour may dominate another and how the psychology behind colour evoke all different emotions. When we use colour in our designs we are communicating how we would like that room to feel, people will have a direct impact when they first see the colour, which is why choosing the right colour, tone and shade is an important part of every design.

Josef Albers

Another colour theorist, Josef Albers, was taught by Itten at the Bauhaus and later became a teacher there too, before then going on to exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1971. His approach was very much the same as Itten’s, he approached colour based on the human experience and encouraged his students to explore and analyse their own experience of colour around them. Colour is perceived differently by each person, an example of which is pictured below, the ochre squares are both the same colour but sat amongst different colours gives the idea they are both very different shades. Colour is very subjective and evokes all different types of feelings and emotions, so when we are discussing colour for a client or a design we must firstly understand how colour works and be specific and clear about our intentions, this will help the design become much more effective.

Fig. 3 – The cover of Interaction of Color. Published by Yale University Press in 1963


Fig. 1 – Johannes Itten’s colour wheel (accessed 2.7.22)

Fig. 2 – Johannes Itten’s colour contrasting—inter (accessed 2.7.22)

Fig. 3 – The cover of Interaction of Color. Published by Yale University Press in 1963 (accessed 27.7.22)

Assignment Two

Full sized detail.

Looking back at my sketch work of the Leven Pendant, I have chosen a part where 3 different materials meet and from this I have drawn a technical section at a scale of 1:1. I analysed the materials and junctions between the different elements. I didn’t have an image of the inside of the pendant and so had to make a guess at how it would look.

The sheet of steam bent Oak/Walnut sits attached to a Birch Ply hanging frame. Both are fixed together using Brass Rivets. My drawing shows the junction between the steam bent wood, the birch ply and brass rivet. My section drawing shows the inside unfolded. The drawings are finished off surrounded by a title block.

Assignment 3

Chromophobia – A Close Reading and Critical Review

I performed a close reading of the excerpt from Chromophobia by David Batchelor Lois Weinthal, Toward a New Interior – An Anthology of Interior Design Theory (2011) Princeton Architectural Press. Pages 225-239. I then wrote an essay where I discussed the reading and my own ideas and opinions on the text. This task was not a familiar or even slightly enjoyable one at first. I printed the text onto paper and underlined phrases and words I was intrigued by or just didn’t quite understand. I then re-read the text a few times before putting together a plan of action to attempt to write the essay. Breaking down this process felt less challenging, once I started typing the essay and discussing the points, words began to flow. I also read a piece of text from a book, that OCA recommended I buy for this part of the unit, which was also very interesting, it shared some similar points but also new ones.

Assignment One findings

Tutor feedback follow up.

Following on from my tutor feedback, it was noted that my tutor would have liked to have seen my research tasks recorded in my learning log. I tend to concentrate on editing my own work for my learning log and forget that the notes and analysis are just as important. With this in mind I have added my paper notes from my A5 sketchbook, I listened to the lectures and made notes which then led me to research of small scale and model villages.

My tutor asked me to consider more typical ideas of scales within interiors. I looked at the links she sent me and it got me thinking differently about how to analyse the design. I also attended a Precedent Analysis Workshop and found it really helpful in terms of what to look for and how to pull it apart.

So for example, looking at this image as an educational space, I’m seeing the large space and considering how it fits within its context. The space has been deconstructed from a traditional classroom to a more flexible and simple interior space. It is a large open space broken up into several phases, following the Agile methodology which reflects the proposal of agile and innovative teaching.

Fig. 2 – Inteli Educacional Complex

The areas were designed to decentralise the teacher figure, placing students as lead characters and control of their own teaching and future. For example, this space doesn’t have 4 sides, all of the walls have spaces to write and design. Teachers in each studio have their desks in different positions and placed between the students’ desks that interaction happens naturally.

Fig. 3 – Inteli Educacional Complex

For medium scale, this image shows me how the spaces work within the building. You can see here there are individual house shaped buildings within the main building offering private spaces to close the doors to the main area, with glass fronted windows so the individual doesn’t feel completely secluded. There is a floor to ceiling glass window into another space that looks like a main reception area to greet visitors. It is dividing the space but using glass lets it sit comfortably within the building. Thinking on a human scale level helps analyse this space, the open plan area is also utilised with a large table and chairs, maybe used for meetings and catchups with colleagues, or even a place to sit with your laptop without shutting yourself off from the world. The interior is used very cleverly with students and teachers at the very fore front of the design, a perfect example of medium scale.

Fig. 4 – Inteli Educacional Complex

Lastly, considering small scale within the same space leads me to look at the way the detail of the ceiling shapes have been designed and used, giving you an idea of the necessary but not so exciting parts to a suspended ceiling, the air conditioning units aren’t hidden completely, which I really like, the visitors can learn from this, not every bit of equipment needs to be hidden from view, after all this is an educational space, but by adding suspended shapes in this way gives it a playful feel whilst creating functionality for the light fittings, security cameras etc. By looking at detail drawings also helps me understand how the materials work together, how are they fixed, why this particular material. This process of breaking down the interior space and really picking it apart has helped me understand scale so much more, I will take this process forward into my future assignments.

Fig. 5 – Inteli Educacional Complex detail drawings


Fig. 1 – Images of my research notes and ideas leading up to Assignment One

Fig. 2 – 5 – Inteli Educacional Complex (accessed 27/06/22)

Reflection Assignment 1

It was great to get started on the work for Year 2, and I really enjoyed jumping straight in and looking at the concept of scale and how it is used to change the way we feel within a space.

My tutor noted that my work shows enthusiasm and effort and that I am making some interesting observations regarding scale both in my learning log and on the forum, she is encouraging me to continue to think critically about the notion of scale.

Going forward I have made a list to help organise my thoughts and actions

  • continue to back up my work with images or diagrams
  • be more experimental with how I communicate my ideas
  • consider more typical ideas of scale within interiors
  • continue documenting my ideas throughout my learning log and show my notes and analysis of my work

I will continue to look at ways of improving my work, both written and graphically, my tutor has recommended some online posts which I will take a look at and document on my learning log.

Furniture Component Parts

Research and sketching

Now that I have an idea of how the Leven Pendant is made up and what materials are used I will have a go at making my own section drawing. I spent some time sketching and figuring out how the pendant fits together. This task was at times frustrating because I couldn’t find images online of exactly how the frame inside the pendant looks, I did find images of the top of the pendant so from that I worked out how it would probably fit together.

I then took all of this information and made a detailed section drawing of the pendant where 3 different materials are next to each other. The outer layer is curving oak or walnut that is fixed to a central plywood frame, these elements are held together with brass accented rivets. In my technical drawing I have shown how the junction works and how all three elements are fixed together with the rivets. The drawing is to full scale, showing dimensions and annotations on A3 paper.


Fig. 1 – My own sketches and doodles of the inside of the Leven Pendant

Project 2: Scale

Smaller Things in Average Sized Spaces

I have researched the work of furniture designers, 3 of which I have chosen to explore further and I have written a short description of their work. My intention was to choose designers with a different style and look with designs predominantly made of wood, metal and fabric but this wasn’t so easy, I’m drawn to organic shapes!

Helen Kontouris is an Australian born designer who acquired a diploma in Arts Interior Decoration & Design RMIT in 1995. She is currently a freelance designer working on interiors, product design and furniture. I was intrigued by Helen’s design of the 101 chair, a moulded fibreglass and wool felt fabric chair that was created in 2017. The shape and form is exciting and playful and looks very comfortable. It could be used by both adults and children, but i’m sure children would explore the spaces underneath and to the sides more than sitting on it. This type of design would encourage you to want to find out more about how it was designed and its back story, a very intriguing piece of furniture.

Fig. 1 – The 101 Chair designed by Helen Kontouris

Tom Raffield is a British designer who studied his degree at Falmouth College of Arts in 3D Sustainability and Design. His work is based around the eco-friendly art of steam bending. One particular design that caught my attention is the Leven Lighting range, this design was inspired during lockdown by the cliff faces and formations of the north coast of Cornwall. It is handcrafted using three tiers of curving oak or walnut timber secured with brass rivets, all sustainably sourced wood, a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. I’m a sucker for a design with a heart warming story. As a nation we were all affected in some way by the recent pandemic and to hear that beautiful design has been created in such a dark time in our lives makes me feel optimistic for the future, confirming that the way we live has an impact on all that we do, to know that Tom is also sourcing sustainable materials is just the cherry on the cake.

Fig. 2 – The Leven Pendant designed by Tom Raffield

Tom Faulkner is a self taught artist and designer who became captivated by the possibilities offered by different materials in the early 1990s, which is when he began experimenting with metal and was intrigued by its qualities of strength and malleability from which he started using it to make furniture. One of his designs caught my eye, the Papillon Side Table made of delicate steelwork and is bold in colour, this design was inspired by Tom’s trip to California’s Joshua Tree National Park back in 2016 and the colours of the butterfly. Again here is a design that was inspired by nature, the form and playfulness of the design is beautiful. The organic shapes find strength in the material, leading down towards reflection on the base.

Fig. 3 – Tom Faulkner’s side table design, The Papillon

Having researched three designs, I then chose one of them to explore further. I sketched the design of the small pendant, freehand and to scale 1:1 and identified the different materials and junctions between those materials.

Fig. 4 – My free hand sketch of The small Leven Pendant designed by Tom Faulkner

The Leven Pendant is made up of curving oak or walnut timber with a central plywood frame and secured by brass rivets. The oak and walnut is sustainably sourced and the varnish used is eco-friendly. The ancient skill of steam bending the wood is used with the added benefit of no chemicals or additives. They pride themselves in not using a production line, they are just handcrafted designs, with a valued heritage and an understanding that every experiment holds the key to a new way of doing things. These images show the details that make up the pendant. Birch ply is used as the hanging disk and frame while the oak or walnut timber wraps around. This piece is fixed using brass accented rivets similarly to these, where caps are fitted on each end to hold in place.

Fig. 5 – The details that make up the Leven Pendant designed by Tom Raffield


Fig. 1 – The 101 Chair designed by Helen Kontouris (accessed 3.6.22)

Fig. 2 – The Leven Pendant designed by Tom Raffield (accessed 3.6.22)

Fig. 3 – Tom Faulkner’s side table design, The Papillon (accessed 3.6.22)

Fig. 4 – My free hand sketch of The Leven Pendant designed by Tom Raffield Walker, T (2022) Freehand sketch of pendant [Pencil and paper] in possession of: the author: Stoford

Fig. 5 – The details that make up the Leven Pendant designed by Tom Raffield (accessed 3.6.22)