“Do not be afraid of white paper…”

Yesterday morning we wandered for three hours in Leeds discovering, sketching and “getting lost” (not joking, some of us really got lost!). It was a kind of treasure hunt!
We had just an old map of Leeds, a pen and our sketchbook, to go and follow the “warps and wefts” of the city to find out what of the old history still exist, the big changes that occurred.

Starting from the Leeds Bridge, with some cool people, we explored the city and discover the traces of the old textile manufacture, that I’ve been studying in these months, and I even discover some new details!
It’s the drawing effect: by using pen and paper you not only represent what you see, you learn to, and you can communicate quickly and simply your thoughts to someone else.

So thanks to Vale and Flora that suggested us this new way of seeing and to the all people that have come!


“In the early Seventies Leeds had thirteen mills. In 1980, only six firms are listed in the Leeds directories as manufactures of cloth.

The old mill buildings lie empty. Some have disappeared and have been replaced by multistory flats, others house a multiplicity of small businesses. Some lie in wait for the vandals and their matches.

Who would have thought a century ago that the hanging fleece, so proudly displayed one the City’s coat-of-arm, was ironically prophesying the death of the city’s earliest and greatest industry?”

Barbara Nelson, The woolen industry of Leeds. D&J Thornton, Leeds, 1980.

Leeds Coat of Arms


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.


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!