From the Library: Color Problems

A practical manual for the lay student of color by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel


We at Commune love color. It’s an obsession. And quite literally everything we do presents yet another opportunity to further study it and to continually develop our philosophy surrounding it. One might imagine we would have a manifesto or perhaps even a spirited formula that helps us navigate the ongoing challenges presented by color - but that’s not quite the case.

Our studio library holds a special section of titles for this ongoing phenomenon. All the regulars are there, including the seminal Dictionary of Color Combinations by Sanzo Wada and Interaction of Color by Josef Albers, but we were happy to add another invaluable entity recently: Emily Noyes Vanderpoel’s Color Problems: A practical Manual for the Lay Student of Color.

This incredible work dates all the way back to 1901 though it’s beautiful and pure layout and content has kept it relevant all these years. In it, Vanderpoel presents her treatise on color in over 100 precisely illustrated grids that are as engaging as a Mondrian or a game of Tetris. From the natural to the man made, she presents each “color analysis” with a timeless sense of wonder. The below images can be found in a full PDF of the title here:

“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” - Wassily Kandinsky