First, watch the video to see Pum Lefebure’s colorgraphic memory put to the test. Then, let’s talk about color and color theory. Color is a powerful principle of design, and one that Pum Lefebure likes to have fun with.
Growing up in Bangkok, Lefebure was influenced by the rich colors around her: the temples, the monks, and the tuk tuks — bright oranges against blues, next to reds, next to yellows. This culture that is not afraid to use color helped to shape Lefebure’s design aesthetic, which has translated into the colorful work she creates as the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Design Army (@designarmy).
Lefebure, who thinks it’s important to know about color trends, doesn’t necessarily think it’s important to follow them. Color is one of the principles she incorporated into her design of the Design Principles promotion for Neenah (@NeenahPapers), featuring papers from The Design Collection.
Here she shares some of her thoughts about the principle of color, and its role in design.
At what point does color come into your design process?
It depends on the project, but a lot of time our work starts with the concept first. I actually encourage my team to start everything with a sketch. We do black and white first and then focus on the form and design; everything in black and white to make sure the typography is right, the hierarchy is right, the composition is right, and then the color comes in. Not because the color is not important, but you need to get the foundation of the design correct first and then you apply the color.
Do you choose color palettes based on color theory?
I think when people think so much about color theory the answers become predictable. Creating a color combination is something that is really fun, but at the same time it’s sometimes hard to convince the client. I don’t want the color palettes created for clients to become conventional. I want it to be unexpected and new and ugly, but pretty at the same time.
How do you incorporate color into a layout?
I look at the photo and I kind of average the colors so that it helps us make decisions. You know, let’s say we have a layout and we have to have three different photos in that spread. So, one photo might have a blue/gray tone and we may use the opposite color, like a yellow/amber color, as a punch, and the other one is grayer. So, when you look at the whole entire layout it is very pleasing, you know, from left to right. Of course, you want to look at the content, you want to look at the composition, but color plays a big role in layout.
How do you sell color to clients?
You have to present it to the client and explain why these shades of green, and why these reds, and how these reds, will take you somewhere else and make the finished product much more energetic. And sometimes the client comes back and says, “I don’t like any of this!” Maybe it’s because they don’t like green or red, so it becomes a very personal decision. As a designer you have to explain to the client that you understand that they love purple, but it’s just not going to fit the company philosophy. Selling color to a client is as important as selling the design.
Color is just one of 20 design principles featured in Neenah’s Design Principles promotion. Presented in a mysterious black box are 20 different beautifully designed and printed circles. Each designed for a specific principle, and each featuring a different luxurious paper from The Design Collection.
To get an up-close look at all the papers The Design Collection has to offer, get a set of the new swatchbooks here. (While supplies last.)
Stay tuned for more conversations about design principles with Lefebure in the coming weeks.