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How colour matching ‘problem’ could change modern design

A researcher who created artwork by using the science of colour perception says designers should see metamerism as a new opportunity, not a problem.

An example of metamerism
How colour matching ‘problem’ could change modern design
A dress under two different light sources

Metamerism is the phenomenon in which two coloured samples appear the same shade under one light source, but different under another.

It has been seen historically as a problem in the colour industry, but it should now be seen as an opportunity according to an arts researcher.

Dr Salome Egger, who undertook a PhD in art at Nottingham Trent University, says it has the potential to change industries including architecture and fashion.

She created art works using metamerism and three different light sources to demonstrate different shades of olive green.

The types of light included daylight, energy-saving florescent lights and incandescent lights from halogen bulbs.

Dr Katherine Townsend and Dr Salome Egger
Study supervisor Dr Katherine Townsend (left) and Dr Salome Egger

“I was first confronted with this physical colour phenomenon while working in the fashion industry, approving lab colour samples,” says Dr Egger, who studied in the university’s School of Art & Design.

“Back then I considered it a problem myself, but my interest increased when I realised the beauty of these subtle colour changes. I started to see it as a great opportunity rather than a problem.

“By presenting metamerism in the context of art, I offered a new perspective, allowing people to see it in a new way, offering new insight.

“Architects have already confirmed an interest in working with metamerism. And I see the potential for space-filling metameric artworks, such as wall coverings, influencing colour perception in rooms and raising new issues regarding spatial and architectural perception.

“What was once seen as a problem for the colour industry could now become a major opportunity, by offering designers the chance to create materials which artistically change in shade under different light sources.”

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Published on 16 January 2018
  • Category: Press office