Design Colours

In the About Us page we described a desire and focus on ancient historical elements leveraged for modern significance. We describe it as a “New Humanism”. Building this aspiration into even the simplest of product and graphic design implies many considerations; colour is fundamental among these considerations.

The combination and composition of ancient Roman colours holds some fascinating elements of continuity with modernity. Many chromatic elements were copied during the Renaissance and remain with us today. One need only think of artists such as Mondrian or Rothko and then compare back to the many examples of ancient Roman villa decorations.

Examples of ancient Roman colours from fresco fragments

However, the individual colour elements on the palette are not so easy to replicate: The MariaMilani and MariaGalerias colour palette is based on colours and tones analysed and replicated from ancient Rome and locations such as ancient Pompeii. Ancient Roman colours were in themselves a great technical advance of classical art but nevertheless have a huge difference from our use of colour in modern times and with modern technology: It is easy to understand that the difference lies both in range of available colours as well as their purity thanks to modern technology and industrial processes.

In practical terms this means that whilst we can sample colours from ancient Roman frescos it is incredibly difficult to faithfully reproduce them on a computer monitor or even with modern synthetic paints which have a high degree of purity. We provide some examples below.

See below: A flat “pure” hex code colour, vs a randomised noise alternative, and lastly an closeup from a Roman original (blurred to optically attenuate scratches and other imperfections of time)

What this means in practical terms is that in order to achieve the same warm sense of depth in single colour surfaces we cannot simply copy a sample hex code (the red above is af311f) but effectively will have to paint a colour mix to achieve a similar optical effect including some optical mixing of a broader frequency spectrum and a more solid sense of depth. Not easy to achieve, but a great aspiration of learning from history.

More thoughts shall be added in time…