st century color Vanessa Batut

21st Century Color by Lidwij Edelkoort

st century color Vanessa Batut

In Lidewij Edelkoort’s essay, titled “21st Century Color”, she describes today’s newer shades of color as complex carriers of emotion. While some see this color movement as a revival and return to the 60’s and early 70’s rekindling of the pop movement, Edelkoort finds these newer tones influenced by a digital timeframe where light, video and the Internet give them a translucent and mutant quality.


Color is no longer described by a simple one-word adjective; we speak of it in matter and volume, shape and texture.
st century color Vanessa Batut
With the introduction of synthetic surfaces and the popular image in the 60’s and early 70’s, readymade colors symbolized reality and resembled colors of packaging, billboards, comic strips and magazines. In contrast, today’s contemporary yellows are reflective and acidic, green is an interpretation of the edible, drinkable greens of the organic movement, blues carry the effervescent quality of rendered water, and oranges are based on exotic fruits such as papaya and kumquat.


Edelkoort maintains that red is perhaps the only color whose interpretations match that of the 60’s and early 70’s, mostly because a bright bold red carries the strongest communication capacity compared to its fellow colors.


st century color Vanessa Batut


People have learned to discern color perfectly, using it to curate their own identities and brands, interpret individual cultures and portray an array of skin tones from the deepest ebony to the creamiest alabaster. Edelkoort believes the next step is for color to be detailed as fragrant and audible.


For now, the colorcard of the 21st Century mimics the Book of Genesis; beginning with light, followed by the blue and green of water and earth diving, then the bright colors of fish and birds, and ending with the multitude of colors of man. She concludes, “ So we live in our own century with our own brilliant shades of brights illustrating life from within and not just on the surface.”


Written by Alex Winston
All photos by Vanessa Batut
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