Breathing Colour at the Design Museum review: Hella Jongerius' exhibition explores how light affects colour

Melissa York
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Copper painted vases from the exhibition
Breathing Colour

Can we really trust our own eyes? The Design Museum has asked curious types to come and find out for themselves, by commissioning Berlin-based designer Hella Jongerius to put together a series of objects and installations that explore how light affects the way we see colours.

It takes place across one room that’s been compartmentalised into morning, noon, and evening. Plastered across the walls are snappy explanations of concepts Jongerius has researched for 15 years like metamerism, the effect created when two different colours appear the same under a certain light.

Hella with her colour catchers

These are complemented by “colour catchers”, three dimensional spheres created from folded and glued cardboard patterns, and “crystal stones”, blocks of varying transparency used to explain light refraction. These are joined by hanging swathes of cloth, threaded with colour-blended strands, flip-projection movies and interactive lightboxes.

As an exhibition, it’s halfway between a trip a Scandi furniture store and the Science Museum. Form collides with colour and objectivity clashes with perception to create a unique deep dive into an everyday phenomena that’ll make you question the way you see the world, quite literally.

Read more: This book will change the way you see colour forever

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