The Color Revolution

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2012 - Art - 380 pages

A history of color and commerce from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design.

When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to "think pink!," it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue. It is the latest development of a color revolution that has been unfolding for more than a century. In this book, the award-winning historian Regina Lee Blaszczyk traces the relationship of color and commerce, from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design, describing the often unrecognized role of the color profession in consumer culture.

Blaszczyk examines the evolution of the color profession from 1850 to 1970, telling the stories of innovators who managed the color cornucopia that modern artificial dyes and pigments made possible. These "color stylists," "color forecasters," and "color engineers" helped corporations understand the art of illusion and the psychology of color. Blaszczyk describes the strategic burst of color that took place in the 1920s, when General Motors introduced a bright blue sedan to compete with Ford's all-black Model T and when housewares became available in a range of brilliant hues. She explains the process of color forecasting--not a conspiracy to manipulate hapless consumers but a careful reading of cultural trends and consumer taste. And she shows how color information flowed from the fashion houses of Paris to textile mills in New Jersey.

Today professional colorists are part of design management teams at such global corporations as Hilton, Disney, and Toyota. The Color Revolution tells the history of how colorists help industry capture the hearts and dollars of consumers.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Mauve Mania
21
2 Anarchy
45
3 Nationalism
71
4 Hide and Seek
95
5 True Blue
115
6 Entente
139
7 LEnsemble américain
163
9 Mood Conditioning
215
10 Sunshine Yellow
241
11 Think Pink
265
Conclusion
289
Acknowledgments
299
Abbreviations Used in References
303
Notes
311
Index
349

8 Rainbow Cities
191

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About the author (2012)

Regina Lee Blaszczyk is Visiting Scholar in the Department of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate editor at the Journal of Design History. As of Spring 2013 she will be Chair in the History of Business and Society at the University of Leeds, UK. Her seven books include Imagining Consumers, Producing Fashion, and American Consumer Society, 1865--2005.