Color fields : what designers need to know about color



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The goal of this report is to identify what designers today need to know or understand about color and—consequently—what design educators should be teaching design students about color. While designers use color intuitively like artists, they also use color instrumentally as a means of communication and a medium for creation. Fine arts paint-mixing models of instruction have long dominated color education for designers. While traditional color education holds much value, I propose that today, designers need a more complete understanding, which includes color theory, color systems, color materials and color management. Design educators therefore need to teach more about the practical use of color in practice: color management, color science, color systems and color standards (such as CIE, Pantone, NCS and Munsell) that are used today in design, commerce and industry. I seek to help designers and educators achieve a more comprehensive understanding of color through a series of artifacts designed to illustrate color concepts and through a curated list of existing print and online color resources. These artifacts and resources provide methods for design educators to teach a more contemporary, comprehensive and practice-based understanding of color. The artifacts at the center of this project are didactic toys that demonstrate important concepts in color theory and form a system that illustrates the technical and practical aspects of color as well as an updated framework for understanding color and its production.