What is shape without color? A project left halfway through. The students of the Master in Color Design & Technology of the Politecnico di Milano know something about it. ICA Group met them during a very special workshop: they were asked to design a set of wooden plates and to choose colors and finishes. We supplied our water-based coatings. Here we share this experience and disclose a few plates, which are the result of this adventure.
The protagonists and the plates
The Master in Color Design & Technology aims to provide training to color professionals, i.e. designers specialized in the use of color in creative and industrial processes. We saw them at work in the workshop led by lkka Suppanen and Francesca Valan, which aimed to design a set of wooden plates. The students were asked not only to design the shape of each set, but also (and above all) to study its colors and surface finish. We stepped in in this second phase: we supplied our water-based coatings, we explained how to apply them on the surfaces and how to choose the right finish.
Now let's put all the plates on the table and let's find out what are the reasons behind a particular shape or certain colors and finishes. Come and join us!
Photo credits: Manuel Cafini
The shape and color of this plate were inspired by faraway pre-Hispanic buildings of central and South America. What about the colors? Ángela chose rusty gold and turquoise, because they recall the treasures that belong to the pre-Columbian people. Nothing is left to chance, as Ángela tells us.
“I remember the pyramids and the Aztec and pre-Hispanic buildings of central and South America, which are actually square or rectangular, but I wanted to give it a circular shape instead. So I created a circular pyramid with steps or levels […]. The finish chosen was inspired by the same aesthetic standards: rusty gold and turquoise, recalling the ancient jewels and the statues of cultures that I was imagining."
Ángela Pérez Calleja
Cecilia's plate was influenced by an ancient Japanese technique known as Shou Sugi Ban. Here is how she describes her project.
"I explored the shades of black on wood through the ancient Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique: a special treatment that preserves the quality of the wood. The technique consists in burning the wood surface making it waterproof and resistant in an outdoor environment. The different shades of burned wood may vary from red to silver resulting in a minimalist, simple and elegant effect."
Chiara's plate seeks the changeability of shape and color. The effect is pursued through the choice of a convex base that makes the plate unstable, and a finish that reflects the light by continuously changing its reflections.
"When the balance of the product changes, the light that is reflected on it changes as well, giving the surface a new appearance. Starting from this concept, I wanted to combine surfaces with different curves, to understand how a specific color and a specific finish could perform differently on them. These sudden changes in curves were matched with a bold finish and color palette, also recalling the idea of the outer space and of an object in orbit. "
The colors chosen by Clara range from very different palettes that blend harmoniously on her plate. Clara uses the delicate colors of nature and the artificial colors of the make-up world. This is how she describes her plate.
“The idea of this project, called Blooming Beauty, is to remind us of the softness and splendor of flower blooming and that of the world of makeup. For the shape of the plate I took inspiration from a blush compact to create a bowl surrounded by a flat ring. As for the colors, I chose delicate tones such as peach, pale pink and beige, and to create contrasts I added bright colors such as red and purple. These colors come directly from the world of makeup and of spring blooming."
Cristina worked on contrasts: she started from a block of wood, which is hard and rough by nature, and the final result is an object that is perceived as soft and delicate. How did she do it? Through the study of a sinuous shape, the choice of very delicate pastel tones and a pearly finish.
"Just like a pebble that is rounded and shaped while traveling along a stream, the plate takes these characteristics and completely transforms the original aesthetics of the wood. This tactile sensation is paired with a range of neutral pastel pink colors, from a darker and powdery shade to a pale, slightly rosy white. The colors reaffirm the idea of delicacy. To emphasize the sculptural quality of geometry, I added a pearly effect to the enamel, so that the curves captured the changing light."
Erica's plate has a concave, cozy shape. The study of colors and finishes is quite interesting, as they want to recreate the visual and tactile experience of an orange tree.
"For this reason I selected three different finishes: the soft touch to recreate the softness and delicacy of the flowers; natural wood for the trunk; the super glossy for the shine of the orange peel. Finally, the colors used are orange and green, with high saturation, to evoke the orange fruit and summer time".
Giorgia's project is called Armonie Pugliesi. The shape of her plates evokes the trulli and also the color palette is inspired by the Apulian territory.
"Even the color palette takes inspiration from the Apulian territory and in particular from the vast hills of olive trees, blending the natural hues of the earth with the white of the typical stone of the Ostuni trulli. Finally, the finishes used are matt to give the product a natural effect, emphasizing again the idea of contrast through the opposition between a rough wood effect and a softer part."
The attention is all focused on the plate's internal surface. At its center stands a small dome, like an island that will be surrounded by a sea made of food. The external surface has been left natural, while the internal one features neon colors that help create a strong contrast.
“The colors selected are neon yellow and orange applied with different finishes, glossy and matt, allowing us to study how the lights and shadows reflect in a totally different way on the two objects. The contrast between the shapes and such bright and vibrant colors is extremely eye-catching not only for the shades but also for the unusual shapes on which they are applied."
Louise's plate has a simple shape that emphasizes the object's volume. She chose the blue color as a tribute to Yves Klein, and opted for a matt finish that highlights its sense of depth.
"As I couldn't obviously achieve the exact color of the artist's pigment without using the International Klein Blue itself, I selected different shades of blue from the NCS system, which are in contrast with the natural color of the wood. The reason why I chose a matt finish, rather than a glossy one, was to recreate as much as possible the appearance of the deep blue, which characterized Klein's entire artistic research path."
The contrast between man and nature is the base of Simona's design. This duality is highlighted by the choice to contrast natural wood with a plastic-like finish.
This duality is made evident by the contrast between natural wood, simply covered by a clear matt coating, and a colored finish, so solid to give a plastic effect to the support."
Sophia's plate draws inspiration from the sky, and the shape and colors are designed to instill a sense of serenity and peace.
"The smooth and bended base is surmounted by a ring that reminds an angel's halo. The association with the sky, the clouds and the air pushed me to choose colors such as a clear blue and a nuanced lavender. Not all parts have been finished, in order to bring out the natural beauty of wood between colors."
Stefanie designed a plate "family". Each piece is a part of a complete design that is perceived only from the top, looking at all the plates together. As for the colors, she combines more or less vibrant tones, with different shades. Her goal? She wants to recreate the complexity and heterogeneity of an extended modern family.
"When you look at all the plates from above, these should be seen as a single, colorful, shape/design project which could not do without any part of it. As your family grows, your set can be enriched too."