Holi festival 2019: how designers use colour in ingenious ways

This week the Hindu festival of colours takes place, which sees communities across the world throw powder over each other to mark the start of Spring and celebrate love, joy and new beginnings. Inspired by this, creatives tell us about colourful design projects, which use the spectrum in inventive, charming and clever ways.

Lance Wyman, graphic designer

“I worked with Puma to design images that supported its ‘Power Thru Peace’ collection last year; a group of garments and shoes that celebrate the 50th anniversary of two legends, American sprinter Tommie Smith and the iconic Puma suede running shoe. Both were features of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, with Smith winning a gold medal, and the shoe being introduced for the first time at the games.

I combined Tommie’s fist, which he famously raised while wearing a black glove during the 1968 medal ceremony in silent protest of social and racial injustice, with a dove, the symbol of the Olympic Cultural Peace Program. The most colourful combination is a black fist, which radiates colour into the dove and outwards in international flag colours — a gesture for everyone.”

Puma Power Through Peace, by Lance Wyman

Jamie Ellul, creative director, Supple Studio

“The Australian National Maritime Museum by Frost Collective is one of my favourite brand identities of the last year or so. I love the simple, cheeky split of the word museum, which puts the ocean at the heart of the brand’s logotype. But as well as a clever logo, the visual identity also has a really well thought out pelagic colour palette; it is inspired by the sea itself and the many colours and reflections it offers up through the day. It’s fresh and bold but feels completely right for the subject matter. It shows colour isn’t always just subjective — the best brand identities have a reason for everything and colour should be part of the strategy too.”

Australian National Maritime Museum branding, by Frost Collective

Dylan Griffith, creative director, Smörgåsbord

“The Monzo card comes to mind. When it first came out, it made such an impact purely because the colour was so distinctive. I later learned the colour was a beta design for user testing, but people loved it so the company kept it. That said, they’ve missed a huge opportunity in not consistently applying the fluorescent coral across all their communications, especially the website and crucially their app icon.”

Courtesy of Monzo

Tessa Simpson, designer, O Street

Music worked with illustrator Jane Bowyer recently to create some beautiful, colourful illustrations to adorn the walls and radiotherapy rooms in cancer centre, The Christie Hospital, specifically in the new children’s department.

I think that was a lovely example of charming colour application for social good. The colours are cheerful and fun, and it looks like close attention to the existing environment has informed the tones too, which helps to create an overall soothing palette that doesn’t feel too jarring or bright against white walls and medical equipment. In such a distressing scenario and environment for children and parents alike, I was really impressed by the application and think they will go a long way in improving the kids’ experiences while undergoing treatment.

It also reminded me of the murals Morag Myerscough created for Sheffield Children’s hospital, another bold application of colour helping to create a better environment and improve the experience for child patients and their parents.”

The Christie Hospital’s children’s department interiors, by Music and Jane Bowyer

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Natasha Chetiyawardana, co-founder, Bow and Arrow

“A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Ben Christie, creative partner at Magpie Studio, as a co-judge at the Design Week Awards, fortuitously just when he was about to start working with my brother on the branding of London cocktail bar, Dandelyan.

What Magpie did on this project was very significant in this category, and is particularly poignant right now, as the bar closed this week. The hugely colourful work was so good that it created a tumult of copycats in its wake, but none as good as the original, which was crafted meticulously. The impact and surreal brightness of the fluorescent florals (executed I-don’t-quite-understand-how by printing extraordinaire, Terry Shortland) were a bold shortcut to the intricacy and uniqueness of the product that they represented.”

Dandelyan branding, by Magpie Studio

Which design project do you feel uses colour in a particularly creative way? Let us know in the comments below.

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