Designer's Eye: Why Color Matters


Joe Doucet, designer for BMW, Armani, and Disney, offers a quick course on the importance of color.

If you could look through the eyes of one of the word's best designers, you'd be able to curate your home, your office, your wardrobe—your entire world—in a way that reflects your unique sensibility with greater precision. Joe Doucet, designer of furniture, architecture, consumer electronics, jewelry, fashion, and technology for Moët & Chandon, BMW, Missoni, Playboy, Armani, Disney, and many others, is giving you exactly that chance with his twice-monthly guest blogs here on Get ready to learn how to communicate by design.

For Doucet's portfolio, visit and follow him on Twitter at @joedoucet.

By Joe Doucet


Image: Joe Doucet

Once, while I was in the south of India meeting with a manufacturer for my Airate wind turbine, I came across a campaign poster for the (democratically elected) Communist Party of India.

Just notice how differently the familiar hammer-and-sickle registers on the eye when shifted to a palette more representative of the culture of Kerala, where even the trucks are festooned with every imaginable shade and tone.

In my own work, I tend to favor black, white, and gray. I depart from that palette only when I have good reason. Take the products I designed for Braun. They're all white, except in those cases when I want to draw attention to the "on" button, where I employ a strong orange light.

The more aware we are of how color affects us, the more discerning our consumption of design will be. Here are a few examples in which color truly transforms an object.

Click on the slideshow below
  • doucet042811_slide1_blog.jpg

    Brogue by Paul Smith
    There's nothing more "classic" than a brogue—except when Paul Smith gets his hands on it, creating a beautiful, eye-catching, and utterly unique take on the footwear staple.

  • doucet042811_slide2_blog.jpg

    Only the Brave Bike by Diesel
    When Diesel sets out to create an urban ride fit for a "brave" bike messenger, color becomes a key factor. Not only does it make the rider visible in city traffic, it also makes for an attractive ride.

  • doucet042811_slide3_blog.jpg

    Wall House by Marc Thorpe
    The environment an object occupies also changes the effect of a color. Here, a country retreat in upstate New York takes possession of the spring foliage, creating an inviting warmth.

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