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The Color Revolution


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Color is a vivid subject: the ground where moods meet physics. The colors of a particular moment live on in our memories, yet history is too often colorblind, oblivious to the powerful role color has played in the development of our florid consumer culture. The Color Revolution takes a big step toward opening our eyes and minds to the way in which a varied cast of characters standardized, refined, and expanded the use of color to create the vibrant, often garish, lives we live now. -- Thomas Hine, author of Populuxe and The Great Funk The twentieth century produced a new tribe of experts: the color gurus. At the intersection of fashion, psychology, chemistry, marketing, product design, and even military engineering, these men and women used the stability and consistency of modern synthetic organic dyes to create a brave new polychrome world that we now take for granted--in software and electronic devices, too. Combining formidable scholarship with memorable personalities and vivid stories, The Color Revolution will fascinate historians, marketing professionals, and consumers alike. -- Edward Tenner, author of Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences and Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity Regina Lee Blaszczyk, who deftly combines ground breaking scholarship with an engaging style, has produced an important and lively account of the individuals, organizations, and industries that made color an inventive and transforming force in modern American culture and design. -- Dilys Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles, Philadelphia Museum of Art The Color Revolution unites the visible history of the color chart with the hidden history of imperfect information, mood, and perception. The narrative arc of this beautifully illustrated book starts with the technical achievement of color in describing the timely development of a reproducible color system among specialists who became 'colorists.' An insightful must-have for the student and historian of business enterprise, industrial psychology, advertising, and the predictive modeling of nuance and effect. -- William Lawrence Bird, Jr., Curator, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

About the Author

Regina Lee Blaszczyk is Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society at the University of Leeds and an associate editor at the Journal of Design History. Her books include Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning, Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture and Consumers, and American Consumer Society, 1865-2005: From Hearth to HDTV.


This fascinating book details how a group of unheralded 'color engineers' created and standardized palettes for the American mass market...Blaszczyk, a design historian, illuminates the economic forces and shifting cultural values that have influenced consumers' color preferences-and she shows how industry has sought to fathom those trends and to anticipate and alter those preferences. -The Atlantic
Read this marvelous book and your eye for color will snap back into brilliant focus. -Jude Stewart, Imprint
Exploring the use of color by American manufacturers from the mid-1800s when scientists, like Perkin, were inventing new industrial pigments and dyes, until the mid-2oth century, [this book] shows what a powerful force color has been - socially, culturally, and economically. -Alice Rawsthorn, The New York Times
The Color a result of sheer research's also suited for an academic setting, its heft and tone destined to be a primer for the growing number of American Studies, Design History, and Management programmes. Full of rich historical imagery, vintage advertisements, annotated footnotes, and an index, the book catalogues a crucial period in the history of Western consumer culture. -Aileen Kwun, Icon Magazine
With a focus on America, the book is a lively account of how individuals and industry made colour a transforming force in our culture and design. -Design Talks

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