Meeting with professor M.A. Hann

Euclide using compasses in "Scuola di Atene" by Raffaello

Euclide using compasses in “Scuola di Atene” by Raffaello

Some weeks ago, following Steve’s suggestion we met professor M. A. Hann, teacher at University of Leeds and director of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive). He was pleased to hear from us, also because he has deep interest in Leeds’ History and since our first meeting he gave us some materials and he invited us to his lectures.

He told us that his researches have brought him around the world (except Italy, where he’s like to come) especially t the far East (China, Korea, Japan…). He studies patterns, structure and their relationship with culture. He’s also deeply interested in mathematics and how numbers series is related to pattern and module in architecture and design. But,it’s better to go in order. He has two different courses here at the University, linked one to each other.

The first is Patterns and Culture. In those lecture Prof Hann go through paleolithic art, caves’ paintings, Mesopotamian evidences to find similar structures, pattern, use of symmetry trying to understand their meaning in those cultures and how they spread in the world and why. In relationship with trades, religion, route of communication and people migration. The aim is to give a framework to examine arts and to understand the way of cultural diffusion and the discover the innate capability of innovation of different communities.

The second one, named “Design theory 2” is for older students, and it’s about universal principles governing structures, forms and performances in design and architecture. He kept saying that it could sound a lot about mathematics and boring things but, actually, symmetry and basics geometry is the starting point of every pattern. So he went through many existing pattern in building, and old paintings trying to answer the same questions:

How they can be rationalized?
How the space is divided?

We will discuss both two and three-dimensional stuff, try to individuate equilateral triangles, squares, hexagons an the rules that organize them: symmetry, rotation, repetition.. And that why he started his lesson showing us the Scuola di Atene, by Raffaello, whit Euclide drowning with a compasses. The key is to find a rule in the complexity, the regular basis on which a particular element is repeated.. Thus you’ll discover that from minimum inventory you’ll get maximum diversity.

I’ve linked prof. Hann’s books to the course names for any further information.

Lazy light and star stickers

Wall stickers

Sometimes the colors’ world can be a kind of cryptic. A lot of numbers, measurements, acronyms tightly bind with discoveries, conventions and physics.

Today we went to visit Steve again, to have a little explanation about how to use the spectrophotometer he lent us but as usually, that became an occasion for a little colors lesson. Of course he taught how to make the zero calibration (3 times toward an open space light) and the white calibration of the instrument and then he passed to explain the meaning of the display’s numbers. D56 refers to the daylight. While, for example, the letter “A” stands for an artificial source of light such as tungsten.

Furthermore: CIE 1931, 2° refers to an experiment the misure the vision angle of people looking to a coin they handle, so at an arm-distance. While the convention CIE 1946, 10° refers to the same experiment but with a bigger coin, so the vision angle is wider.

Then, some other acronyms: if do a measure SCI you’re including the specular light, if it’s SCE you want to exclude it (it’s particularly important for glossy surfaces).

He made also al lot of charts trying talking about amount of reflective lights vs the incident light and at [dunno how] we end talking about phosphorescent and fluorescent material. Basically is a question of time. Fascinating how color can be relating with every sort of aspects! Easily speaking, when the light arrive to an object, this object suddenly reflects just a specific wavelength’s range, that is the colour we can see; and the non-reflected amount of light is converted in other energy: heat. But. Not every surface reflect the wavelength immediately, some delay can occur and, moreover, the late reflection can have a wavelength that is different from the initial one.

So, it’s the lazy, latecomer light that makes the stars stickers on my room ceiling bright at night.


Conversation with Steve. #2

Conversation with Steve. #2

“Steve and the sleeping giant”

This morning we discovered some more information about the University of Leeds and its history, through a nice chat with Steve, our tutor. He told us that the Textile and Colours department is the most ancient part of the University and that the Clothworkers’ building is its core, founded in 1874, and after that all the others faculties developed around it, since 1904. And textile and colours seems to be exactly what Leeds has always been famous for. Here colors have been considered from a scientific point of view, explored with quantitative methods and strictly related to technology. But.
But in the early 90s, or probably before, there were a crisis in the textile sector due to international competitor with cheaper labour costs.
Moreover, in the 2000, in Leeds there were also a college for Fashion and Arts but its head seems to had have some problem with finance and taxes so the government asked to the Leeds University to absorb the college for not loosing it.

So that, since 2000, the Uiversity of Leeds held its textile and color heritage with this new art and fashion department. They couldn’t have been separated for long, so in 2005 the School of Design were founded.
But a problem still remain: with so different origins in which direction should the school go?

Maybe they should find a common direction and here is the reason for the brand identity project. But for now the school remain a sleeping giant, with high potentialities, looking for his own direction, hesitant between practice and theory. The difference sometimes is not so easy to define.


Leeds. Live it. Love it. Brand it

Leeds. Live it. Love it. Brand it

This morning we had a little chat with Mike Sheedy, teacher at MA Advertising and Design and deputy head of School of design. He, with others, is now working on the brand identity of the school of design of Leeds. The aim is to transmit the richness of this school that have so many souls inside: music, graphic, performance, visual, art, textile… People here should be proud of this variety and diversity, that it’s a kind of unique situation among others english uni.

He also gave us some useful tips about Leeds:

  •  It’s one of the biggest city in England, but it concentrates in a small territory.
  • 70s – 80s. There weren’t so good time here, the industrial Leeds was declining..
  • early 90s the city Council decide to improve the ex-industrial area and relaunched Leeds as a new business city, so they encouraged people to build in the waterfront area, to start creative companies and new businesses. They highlighted the stategic location of the city, placed in the middle of England and that it’s area is not so big, it’s a kind of “condensed city”.
    And it worked!
    It really worked, also in the 2007 recession (think about the Trinity Leeds!)
  • 2005. Leeds. Live it. Love it. Marketing Campaign on air! (the official website doesn’t work now)

…and now? Is it still working? Which is the evaluation of the campaign?

And today which are the needs of the city?


A quick chat with… Vien Cheung

A quick chat with… Vien Cheung

Insegnante e ricercatrice nel dipartimento Colore della School of Design di Leeds ci incontra per una breve chiacchierata. Ci accoglie raccontandoci del suo unico viaggio in Italia, per una conferenza, a Gargnano (BS), sul lago di Garda. Bello conoscere l’esistenza di città del tuo paese da una ragazza di Hong Kong. Lei è arrivata a Leeds per proseguire le sue ricerche nel campo del colore e della misurazione di esso.

Vien, che insieme ad altri, fa parte dello stesso team di Steve, ci racconta il fascino per questa materia in cui ne intervengono mille altre, in cui si incrociano molti altri saperi: fisica, neuroscienze, percezione.. E aggiungiamo qualche tassello al quadro della School of Design e delle loro ricerche. Dunque: nel lab che, a sentire Vien, non ha niente di fantastico poiché è “tutto grigio” (il grigio serve a fornire un background il più possibile neutro per non influenzare i colori) hanno diverso strumenti di misurazione del colore. Alcuni sono molto precisi, funzionano a contatto, ma possono essere usati solo per colori uniformi e su campioni piatti. Per altre misurazioni, per esempio pattern o altri materiali si servono di Digital camera, professionali certo, ma comunque macchine digitali. Dalle foto scattate poi possono desumere i colori di ogni singolo pixel. Ciò che conta, comunque, è tenere sempre in considerazione quale tipo di luce illumina il nostro colore.

Chiediamo un esempio delle ricerche fanno qui. Molte e diverse applicazioni per altrettante aziende. Colore dei loghi, di stampe, poster ma anche di tessuti, abiti e… denti. Già, un’azienda di dentifrici ha chiesto loro una ricerca (focus group, survey, misurazioni…) per capire che bianco è il bianco dei denti. Ovvero: quand’è che che un sorriso viene percepito come bianco? Ovviamente non è il bianco “fisico” della carta o di uno schermo, risulterebbe innaturale, fuori luogo nel dintorno di labbra, viso… Forse non ci eravamo mai chiesti che bianco è il bianco. Iniziamo oggi.

PS: next Monday we will have a Lab tour!


The illusion is…

“The illusion is to think that color is physical”

S. W.

Interessante chiacchierata con il nostro tutor questa mattina. Steve. Nel suo caotico ufficio, nella School of Design della Leeds University ci tiene a fornirci un’introduzione al mondo del colore e a condividere la sua visione delle cose. Oltre alle informazioni, più o meno note e fresche, su NCS, Munsell e Pantone il discorso si fa interessante e più sottile: “Does colour exist or not?”. Sembra che un avvocato lo chiamasse quasi quotidianamente per avere una risposta all’enigma. Il problema sta nell’ambiguità del termine e nella difficile definizione tra fisica e percezione. La materia colours tocca poi una tale ampiezza e varietà di discipline che sembra di coglierne sempre e solo una parte.

Qui sono alla ricerca delle relazioni tra fisico e percepito.
Buon lavoro!