Colour Literacy Forum: The Interaction of Colour and Light

  • 13 Jun 2024
  • 10:00 AM - 11:30 PM
  • virtual


Registration is closed

The Colour Literacy Forum is an international, collaborative effort to align university-level colour education with current design needs in the culture. The goal of the Forum is to connect faculty, students, and administrators with interdisciplinary professionals to provide cutting-edge research, curricula, tools, and resources.

The Colour Literacy Forum is a virtual gathering featuring presentations and discussions related to updating and expanding colour education in art and design programs at the university level. The forum convenes for three events per year to share information and offer dynamic networking opportunities for participants.

Register using the button at left. For complete details visit, Colour Literacy Project.


Our visual system detects variations in the intensity and overall balance of spectral composition of the light reaching our eyes, but also does much more, seemingly instantly arriving at unconscious estimates of the overall spectral reflectances of objects, and of the intensity and overall balance of spectral composition of the light illuminating those objects. We perceive these unconscious estimates of spectral properties as colours. Colours of light can be  escribed in terms of the attributes of hue, brightness and either saturation or colourfulness, while colours of objects can be described in terms of the more familiar attributes of hue, lightness and chroma, among others. Using an orange cube on a tiled floor as an illustration, this presentation will describe and contrast these six colour attributes and show how they apply to our superimposed colour perceptions (1) of objects, (2) of the light illuminating objects, and (3) of the light reaching our eyes from objects.

Dr. David J. C. Briggs is Vice President of the Colour Society of Australia, Co-chair of the AIC Study Group on Art and Design, and a member of the Project Team of the AIC/ISCC Colour Literacy Project. His published work includes the websites The Dimensions of Colour and Colour Online, a chapter on Colour Spaces in the Routledge Handbook of Philosophy

of Colour, The Elements of Colour - a two-part paper in Volume 33, a Special Issue on Contributions by the Colour Literacy Project Team in the Journal of the International Colour Association, and numerous conference presentations and webinars. David has taught numerous classes for art and design undergraduates and for the general public, including Understanding and Applying Colour, an eight-week online lecture course available through the National Art School in Sydney.


Lighting can influence the appearance of colours, that is, their hue, saturation, and brightness. For perfectly matte, smooth, opaque, flat materials, the reflected light is determined by the spectra of the light and the reflectance of the material. But we do not see spectra, we see colours, which, in isolation,can be related to the relative power of the different broadband parts of the spectra. Since this relative power can be the same for different combinations of light and materials, it is possible that materials with different spectral reflectances can look the same under a certain light spectrum. But, if those materials are then put under another light spectrum, they can look different. This phenomenon is called metamerism. Such interactions, influencing colour appearance, can happen at different scales –– from the microscale on material surfaces to the mesoscale of objects, up to the macroscale of buildings, and even the planetary scale of sun and sky. In this presentation, these phenomena will be illustrated visually and explained with DIY exercises.

Sylvia Pont is an Antoni van Leeuwenhoek professor Perceptual Intelligence at Delft University of Technology. In Delft she coordinates the Perceptual Intelligence lab (π-lab), a centre of expertise on perception and design of multisensory experiences and smart products, services, and systems, and unique for its cross-disciplinary approach to real- world perception problems. Her research includes studies into design, perception and optics of light and its interactions with materials, shapes and spaces. She coordinates a Master’s elective course Lighting Design and teaches in several other courses in human centered design, human factors, and multisensory design.


Current architectural education largely focuses on the tectonic, in relation to building and construction, and on the formal aspects of the visual tectonic. But little attention has been devoted to the visual tectonics of colour. Current research estimates that approximately 80% of our perception, cognition, and activities are mediated through vision –– with form and colour a key feature –– it could be argued that we should put more emphasis on the visual qualities of colour in architecture. The Faculty of Architecture and Design at NTNU has been developing a structure for colour teaching that is integrated in the overall curriculum. In this model, colour is emphasized as a material quality that engages in and contributes to the formal, structural, and aesthetic discourse in architectural and urban practice. With examples from teaching and research, this presentation will focus on the interaction of light and colour in spatial contexts, and more specifically the importance of facade texture in various daylight and give examples of urban colour composition that demonstrate how we perceive the visual gestalt of urban spaces.

Kine Angelo is an Associate Professor with more than twenty years of practice as Interior Architect, specializing in colour in architecture. She joined the Faculty of Architecture and Design at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 2010 where she is currently a full-time lecturer and researcher at Department for Architecture and Technology. Her teaching and research activities are devoted to light and colour in the architectural realm. Building on previous and ongoing design practice of architectural projects, her overall aim is to promote colour and material gestalt in architecture and urban space through research, architectural education, and public outreach.

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