Colour as a design tool | by Fabrizia Spina

Colour is an essential design tool with the ability to improve our daily lives. This statement marked the starting point for the conversation held at the Press Cafés organised during Cersaie 2019 in collaboration with the specialist magazine DOMUS.

Giulia Guzzini (Domus) met Manuela Bonaiti and Emma Clerici from Baolab and Andrea Marcante and Adelaide Testa from the firm Marcante-Testa to discuss the essential characteristics of colour as a design tool.

To find out more about the work of the two firms, one in the field of strategic consultancy and the other in architecture, we started out from the sensorial interfaces of objects and the interpretative tools that our senses use to process them.

Manuela Bonaiti and Emma Clerici, both of whom trained as architects and have been working together at Baolab since 2007, maintain that objects have narrative surfaces consisting of material, colour, rhythm and decoration that can be managed on a tactile, chromatic and perceptive level. From their perspective, the colour surface is the most powerful in terms of interactions. “Colour is persuasive,” explains Manuela Bonaiti, “and along with physiological sensations it also conveys aspects of memory, history and culture.”

Similarly, in the work of Andrea Marcante and Adelaide Testa – who founded the practice Marcante-Testa in 2014 – the expressive languages of materials, colour and decoration are used to imbue space with the memory of a past time and to intensify or attenuate the contrasting tones within a project. One example is the Duale table produced in 2018 in a limited edition for SEM (Spotti Edizioni Milano), where the pale green of the laminate chosen for one section of the tabletop brings to mind the desks used in Italian schools in the 1970s and contrasts strongly with the marble used for the other section of the table. “There are certain materials that we were not permitted to use for many years because they are considered ugly,” explains Andrea Marcante. “Instead we are interested in the contrasts that some materials or colours are able to generate: laminate and marble are poles apart at a perceptive level but this kind of antinomy serves to enhance them both.”

Watch the other Cersaie 2019 Press Café


November 2019