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  • Writer's pictureSarah Woolf

Travel for Training: Belgium!

In March 2024, Sarah traveled to Antwerp, Belgium for a color and design workshop; here's her reflection on the experience!

Is there a mathematical means for making a color scheme? In a time of algorithms and AI, it seems only natural that a harmonious color scheme is only a click way. Many websites would have you believe as much. So what sets the color scheme generator apart from the designer?


The answer is twofold. First, context: ultimately, a color or design scheme must be in conversation with its surroundings: architectural, geographical, directional, functional, cultural, and beyond.


The second is perception. As unique as we each are, so is our vision and our relationship to color. And even if an algorithm can't perfect a color scheme, there are amazing systems out there built to support human creativity with data-driven scaffolding. So I recently jetted off to Belgium to seek more color education in the Natural Colour System (commonly referred to as NCS), which is built entirely from human color perception, as opposed to the chemistry of pigment mixing, with which many of us are more familiar.


Our instructors, Berit Bergström and Jeannette Hanenburg, crafted a curriculum that brought technical data and creative intuition together in pursuit of harmonious color and design. One of NCS' many useful tools is a way to plot colors onto a 3D model, visually diagramming where a set of colors fall in relationship to one another.


travel Belgium color education NCS natural colour system

Before I lose you in the color nerd ether, I'll offer an illustration: In our final days, we worked on a design presentation to share with the cohort. I set out to create a possible scheme for a theater space and started to create a collage of colors, textures, and materials. When I reached a creative plateau, I turned to analysis and plotted the key colors of my collage into the NCS system. In doing so, I noticed that a particular nuance of color was absent from the design. Taking this analytical observation into action, I sought out a color to fill this absence, much to the benefit of the overall scheme.

travel Belgium color education NCS natural colour system

So no, I don't think AI is ready to take my job. But creativity always benefits from some structure. Already I notice how my work is benefiting from this analytical undercurrent, especially in crafting our own upcoming workshop curriculum, and certainly in any of your own upcoming projects.

- Sarah

travel Belgium color education NCS natural colour system

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