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Interactive Annual 20:
Tablets/Handheld Devices

Interaction of Color

Launch Live Site

“This will totally change the way you see, understand, manipulate and think of color.”
—Ana Serrano

“A useful design resource before it went digital. This beautiful digital version promises to be even more useful.”
—Troy Lachance


Overview: If ever a book were truly made better as an app, it’s this interactive edition of Josef Albers’s timeless guide for artists, instructors and design students—one of the most influential books on color ever written. Released on the heels of the book’s 50th anniversary, the Interaction of Color app reveals professor Albers’s concepts through highly interactive versions of the original color plates, offering an entirely new way to experience this masterwork in twentieth-century art education. Users can read the book’s full text, browse and interact with over 125 color studies, perform experiments using a new color palette tool and watch newly added expert video commentary produced by Blood Brothers. The result is a groundbreaking new way to understand and practice Albers’s color principles within the context of his original words and commentary.

  • • Potion designed and developed the app over nine months, using Apple’s native Objective-C language and the iOS Software Development Kit, combined with a few open-source libraries. A custom CMS was also developed with WordPress, to store book chapters and color plates.
  • • Albers worked with cut pieces of Color-aid paper in the classroom and provided folders of silkscreen studies in the original publication, challenging Potion to recreate the physicality of those materials in a digital way. The elegant and highly interactive solution is built around a color wheel where users can pull out multiple swatches to explore, save and share combinations while working on their studies.
  • • With more than 75,000 downloads, the book-turned-app has been described by Debbie Millman of Design Matters as as “the example the world has been waiting for. An extraordinary piece of education and inspiration.”

Comments by Phillip Tiongson:

What were the most challenging aspects of the project? “Color is completely different when using pigment and ink on paper than it is on a screen where light is emitted through pixels. Initially, we worried that if we could not recreate the exact color properties of the original studies on paper, the project would not be possible. However, the Albers Foundation showed us how Albers’s color principles actually transcend any specific medium. The phenomena he describes throughout the book are fundamental to the human experience of color across all mediums.

“Figuring out how digital interaction could be truly integrated with Albers’s color principles turned out to be the real challenge. Our solution recreates the original studies in vector form, enabling all of the interactive capabilities. First, the studies themselves can be ‘pulled apart’ as if made from paper, so that users can juxtapose the pieces in any way they want, to understand the principles Albers was illustrating. Second, the studies can become empty templates for users to create their own studies. Finally, the studies were connected directly to Albers’s commentary, so that when he describes a specific feature of a study, that feature could highlight itself in a way that paper could not.”

Credits

Caroline Oh, art director
Nicholas Fox Weber, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, writer
Edyta Lewicka, graphic designer
Steve Varga, senior designer/senior developer
Phillip Tiongson, principal
Bruce Drummond/Josh Knowles/Filippo Vanucci, developers
Michelle Komie, Yale University Press, editor
Abby Palmer, senior producer
Sara Sapire, Yale University Press, project manager
Adam Jones, Blood Brothers, production artist
Brenda Danilowitz, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, curator
Blood Brothers, production company
Potion (New York, NY), project design and development
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Yale University Press, clients


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