Since 1965, when Sto introduced a revolutionary color system, the company has been providing art and inspiration in architecture, working with design and building professionals to facilitate design and color decision-making.
Second in a three-part series on Sto Studio
The study of color by artists, philosophers and scientists has spanned centuries, dating back to 1672 when Sir Isaac Newton defined the components of visible light as color. Segmenting the spectrum into easily identifiable color families, he led others to develop their own versions of the color wheel and established “color theory”, which in today’s parlance means “guidance on mixing colors”.
While Sto Corp. doesn’t date back as far as Newton, it has been a pioneer in color theory, specifically as it relates to architecture. Product and color formulations are based on theories, old and new. In 1965, Sto introduced a revolutionary color system and has been building upon that first offering since then. The StoColor 800 — a collection of 800 colors formulated to match the range of human visual perception — was released in 2002, and remains a favorite resource for the architecture, engineering and construction sectors.
Humans are able to distinguish “primary colors” (e.g. yellow, red, and blue), “secondary colors” (e.g. orange, violet, and green), which are created by mixing two primary colors (yellow + blue= green), and a host of tertiary colors for use in buildings’ interiors and exteriors. It is the human perception of color that is the foundation of the StoColor System.
Sto’s color wheel is made up of 24 parent colors which are combined with white, black and grays to create a range of sophisticated colors applicable to our built environment. Extrapolating specific colors from the master palette, Sto has created subsets for varied markets: The Sto Sto Classic Color Collection, The Sto Designer Color Collection, Sto for the Southwest, The Architectural Color Collection and so on.
The Power of Color
Color is integral to our world, not just in the natural environment but also in the man-made, architectural environment. It has played a role in human evolution. Colors influence us. They affect our psychology, they communicate, inform and influence judgement. Clearly, color in architectural spaces is more than decoration.
Form, function, design and color coexist within our architectural environment. Just as color plays a huge role in branding, colors define the nature and aesthetic of a building; colors help develop the culture and identity of a city as well. Architecture influences our lives more than we are usually aware and the use of color in architecture makes a built form even more impactful.
Utilizing color in buildings has evolved over the years. Grey, dull and restrained monochromatic facades — especially in older cities — have given way to bolder colors on building exteriors and interiors. Whites and greys have long been favored by architects and designers, but many feel these colors are too “grave and isolating” and are incorporating more color into their designs. Dark saturated colors are trending right now, as are so-called “celebration colors”. How uninspired is beige on beige on beige, and by contrast how delightful is it to turn a corner and see a sudden burst of color?
Empirical observations and scientific studies have proven that our reactions to architectural environments are highly influenced by our sensory perception of color. Architectural psychology, color psychology, neuropsychology, visual ergonomics, psychosomatics prove that color influences us psychologically and physiologically.
The psychological effects of color are the basis of what’s called visual/color ergonomics: “a multidisciplinary science concerned with understanding human visual processes and the interactions between humans and other elements of a system”. As an example of visual ergonomics: a medical facility would benefit from a different color scheme than an industrial complex or a school.
Color is a sensory perception and, as with any sensory perception, it has effects that are symbolic, associative and emotional. In simpler, more graphic terms: yellow feels sunny, friendly, and inviting; red is provocative, arousing, perhaps aggressive. Green is balanced, calm and simple
A Celebration of Color
As a means to help the market understand the power and potential of color Sto established Sto Studio, offering custom color solutions to clients world-wide. By illustrating the potential aesthetics for a project with full-color renderings, Sto Studio enables design and building professionals to see the future and choose from a variety of design scenarios.
The team of color professionals at Sto Studio who are inspired by color and art in architecture, know the science of color mixology, but also the gestalt and psychology of color. Sto Studio designers are experts on color but also understand its value as part of new coatings and finishes, its sustainability and efficacy in meeting the goals of the design and building community, or in the restoration of protected buildings.
Whether providing industry leading delivery of quality color formulas and samples, or a professional grade rendering, Sto Studio facilitates design and color decision making. The Sto Color System offers a harmonic, finely nuanced selection of colors for facade and interior use and the most advanced, visually ergonomic media presentations for all phases of color design.
Color 101 – a Quick Primer
- Hue identifies the color family (blue, green, red, etc.)
- Chroma is the purity or intensity of a color (a high chroma has no added black, white or gray).
- Value refers to how light or dark a color is (the lighter the color, the higher the value). Dark colors absorb light energy and have a lower LRV (light reflective value). Light colors reflect light and have higher LRVs.
- LRV – Light Reflective Value: indicates how much light or energy is bouncing off a surface. A color with 87% LRV is reflecting 13% of the light energy broadcast on its surface; a dark brown with 8% LRV absorbs 92% of the light energy.
- Achromatic: essentially, lacking chroma (grays, neutrals, black and white).
- Saturation refers to how strong or weak a color is (a highly saturated color would be considered very strong). Regard it as “Pure vs. Pale”.
- Tones are created by adding gray to a color, making it duller or softer-looking than the original, pure hue. Tones are sometimes easier to use in designs.
- Shades are created by adding black to a color, making it darker than the original. The word is often incorrectly used to describe tint or tone, but technically shade only applies to hues made darker by the addition of black.
- Tints are created by adding white to a color, making it lighter than the original. Very light tints are sometimes called pastels, but any pure hue with white added to it is technically a tint, even if the color is still quite bright.
Next week, look for Sto Studio case studies.