Color-driven designs from across the globe

The Rainbow Connection

By Anna Carnick

Whether it’s a jolt of electric pink or a soothing, glacier blue, there’s no denying: color is a powerful force. Different colors evoke different emotions—be they contemplative, joyful, or energized—and, for designers in particular, color is an invaluable tool in creating affective, even inspiring work. As the late, great Verner Panton once said, “One sits more comfortably on a color that one likes.”

In recent months, we’ve noticed several, super-talented designers around the globe fearlessly, wonderfully embracing color as they approach new projects. So we connected with six studios at the top of their chromatic games to get the skinny on some of our favorite, color-me-happy designs. Read on for a healthy dose of rainbow-bright design goodness.


Rive Roshan / London

Color play is at the heart of nearly every project that comes out of Rive Roshan's London studio. Often, their projects present chromatic combinations that change depending on how users engage with them. “Color is such a subjective element,” say Dutch designer Ruben de la Rive Box and Iranian-Australian designer Golnar Roshan, “[so] we like to offer people the possibility to make something personal.” 

Take, for example, the studio’s versatile Loom Bound (2016) project. Designed to adapt to one’s taste and context, these modular, screen-like pieces are composed of unfinished oak rods interwoven with sheets of fabric in various colors that can be configured in almost endless possibilities. Similarly, the dreamy, multi-hued Circadian Tapestry (2016)—another mélange of fabric and oak—was designed so that the fabric rotates gradually, creating different color combinations to symbolize the passage of time through what the designers describe as a meditative and “chromological” approach. Meanwhile, the Trichroic Tapestries series—a 2015 installation at Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris that featured five-meter-long layered textile panels—explores the interplay of color; as one walks around the tapestries, colorways interact to create a sense of animation. As the duo tells us, “We are particularly interested in the ability of color to shape and distort our perception. We always try to find visual wonder through the interplay of color.” 

They go on: “Color is just as important a variable as form, function, or material. Historically, color has often been neglected and a bit of an afterthought in the design process. For us, [it] is always part of the process from the start . . . because it has the ability to capture and convey a specific mood or emotive expression.” It’s also a powerful means “to create visual impact or pose a question.”


Everything Elevated / Oslo & NYC

Dividing their time between Norway and the U.S., Everything Elevated has made quite a name for itself in just a few short years, thanks to thoughtful, beautifully executed projects. A perfect example of the studio’s contemplative style? The Passivation Project, first launched in 2014, which uses color to transform steel into precious objects.

The series, which includes containers, mirrors, and tables, is made by laser cutting steel into various pieces that are then dipped in a plating bath; that bath leaves a thin film on the surface that results in a unique color play that adds a sense of richness to the final piece (and prevents corrosion to boot).  As the studio tells us, “We started the Passivation Project as an experiment into how we could elevate low cost manufacturing methods (aka: our budget) into something noble, unique, and desirable. Form and design is one step, but as a studio we've always seen the value of adding another layer of story and discovery to elevate our work and knowledge base.”  

They continue: “We believe that after enough, comes more—that ‘more’ is that crucial layer that elevates a project into the realm of being meaningful and relevant.”


Joogii / Los Angeles 

Inspired by 1990’s French house music artists like Daft Punk, Etienne de Crecy, and Cassius, L.A.’s Joogii studio recently launched French Touch (2016), an iridescent furniture and accessories collection that is anything but bashful. As pretty as they are prismatic, every piece in the series is composed of CNC-cut acrylic that’s hand-coated with a dichroic film, which “changes hue and saturation in varying light and shadow.” Manufactured in the designers’ hometown, each object is named for a different music artist and features geometric shapes, interlocking elements, and exposed edges. 

As designer Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli explains, she and husband-slash-business partner Diogo Felippelli “met on the dance floor back in 2006, and a few years later we started DJ’ing at clubs from Rio de Janeiro to Los Angeles. House music brought us together, and as French Touch was one of our first [designs] for Joogii, we wanted [it] to be special. It just made sense to bring our story and our love of house music together in this beautiful product.”

Describing color’s role in the collection, Mutzke-Felippelli says, “Color sets a tone—and it’s important that it is the right tone. When light hits the product, it casts stunning, colorful shadows on the floor that I find totally uplifting. The color is never static, so it continuously builds interest and vibrancy in an environment.”

Plus, she notes, strong colors can make objects emotionally accessible. “When you have a product that is so ‘color-active,’ it excites people and gives them a sense of nostalgia for other moments when color brought them the same joy.”


Shaping Colour by Germans Ermičs Photo © Lonneke van der Palen
Studio Germans Ermičs / Amsterdam

Since graduating from the Eindhoven Design School in 2011, Latvian-born designer Germans Ermičs has focused primarily on experimentations with glass and its chromatic qualities. “Although it’s such a widely used material [and] all around us, I never found it comforting. My goal was to challenge this perception; I wanted to change how it looks and feels.”

For his Ombré series (2015-2016), Ermičs’ took this inspiration—as well as the colors of ever-changing light in the sky—and added dramatic color gradients to glass and mirror panels with stop-you-in-your-tracks results. Then, sparked by the question “What would it look like if I stretch, turn, or fold color as if it was a three-dimensional shape?,” the designer went on to launch Shaping Colour (2015-present), a richly hued, beautifully lined, glass-and-mirror furniture series. Ermičs’ notes, “I chose very simple geometric shapes and transformed [their] cold, linear geometry into an element of unprecedented depth. In my work, it’s a way of approaching color as a true, three-dimensional [element], having its own consistency.” He goes on: “By initiating a dialogue between shape and color, I aim to unhinge the traditional roles in what defines a product.”


Square Gem Coffee Table by Debra Folz Design Image © Debra Folz
Debra Folz Design / Providence, Rhode Island

American designer Debra Folz found inspiration for one of her latest series in the reflections of light and transparencies in gemstones. Her undeniably ladylike Gem collection (2014-) features smoke, pink, and blue glass tabletops set atop nickel or brass bases designed as jewelry-like settings with pronged connections. Folz translates gemstone facets using layers of color and varying opacities in the glass.

According to the designer, “The color scheme of each table is very specifically designed to mimic the throw of light over a faceted surface, but here it is described in a two-dimensional plane. When placed on a light colored floor with natural light introduced,” she says, “the transfer of colors onto the floor is quite beautiful.”



Sabine Marcelis / Rotterdam

For her part, Sabine Marcelis hopes to make a little magic. “I hope my designs offer a moment of wonder,” the New-Zealand-raised, Rotterdam-based designer tells us. “I aim to make designs that play with perception and make you take a second look.”

Experimenting with materiality, process, and color, Marcelis’s work achieves just that. It is at once romantic, uber-hip, and full of surprising visual effects. Her research-driven Dawn light sculptures (2015), for example, composed of a single white neon tube embedded in colorful, cast resin, explore the relationship between color and light—“inspired by a time in the day whe[n] the sun, clouds and sky join to create a momentary riot of hues.”

Voie Light by Sabine Marcelis Image © Lee Wei Swee

For the wonderfully graphic, rainbow-hued Seeing Glass Big Round (2015), a collaboration with Brit van Nerven, the designers worked closely with glass specialists, combining multiple layers of glass and colorful foils to create an unexpected sense of depth within a reflective surface. And for the VOIE light series (2015), Marcelis, curious as to how light might be manipulated by the addition of a single new material, coupled cast polyester resin objects with neon lights, which ultimately diffused the lights’ paths and intensified color within the resin—to boldly beautiful effect.

As Marcelis says, “The core of my work has always been materials and how you can showcase hidden beauty . . . and extract moments of magic by processing or treating the material in new and innovative ways.”

  • Text by

    • Anna Carnick

      Anna Carnick

      Anna is Pamono’s Managing Editor. Her writing has appeared in several arts and culture publications, and she's edited over 20 books. Anna loves celebrating great artists, and seriously enjoys a good picnic.

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