The RISD Color Lab is a multiplatform space where students can engage with the one aspect of art and design that draws us all together : COLOR

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Visit Us

Want to visit The Color Lab? Check out our materials collection at the Visual+Materials Resource center, accessible online here and in person at the Fleet Library. And walk by our exhibition space on 30 North Main Street! From the window, you can view a rotating selection of faculty and student exhibitions.

Want your work shown at The Color Lab? Apply for a faculty research grant or our student exhibition open call! View Faculy Fellow presentations and other event recordings here.

Please click here for recent news and event announcements for the 2022-23 academic year.


In 2008, Technician and faculty member William Miller began a modest collection of pigments and research materials related to the study of color with the aim of helping students and faculty better understand the powerful though sometimes confusing behavior of color in art and design.

Over a decade later – and with the support of a motivated, cross-divisional cohort of faculty and staff who are deeply passionate about color – the RISD Color Lab has become an interdisciplinary center for teaching and learning about color in art, design, and culture.

The resources of the Color Lab give members of the RISD community access to pigments, dyes and inks, published research and physical models on color theory, and a multiplatform space to learn, make, and critique from a common, color-centric departure point. The Color Lab will also maintain an active engagement with the color industry in pursuit of knowledge, resources, and research partnership.

Along with RISD’s other academic commons – CoWorks, The Center for Arts and Language, and the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab to name a few – The Color Lab extends the voice of the strategic plan by acting as a “non-departmental, co-located” common space where interdisciplinary inquiry on color can be gathered and organized toward the goal of furthering research activity at RISD.

If you are passionate about the power of color – or merely curious – visit the RISD Color Lab. We can be found in the Visual+Materials Resource Center at the Fleet Library and at our window exhibition space at 30 North Main.  We serve color daily ︎

Exhibition Calendar

View exhibition photographs here.
View event recordings here.

Fleet Library

color | surface | texture

A selection of samples from the Material Resource Center
August 3-October 13, 2023

The Fleet Library Visual + Material Resource Center is home to over 35,000 material samples. It is a hands-on interdisciplinary collection for the exploration of materials used in architecture and construction, fine arts and design, apparel and interior furnishings, landscaping, product design, and printing. Categories include biocomposites, minerals, metals, ceramics, polymers, and textiles.
Browse the collection by composition, property, material ecology, and other parameters online at Material Order SEARCH.

Past Events

Fleet Library

Swarovski Trend Books

June 12-July 30, 2023

These unique volumes of textile flags featuring Swarovski crystals were gifted in 2017 from a local jewelry supplier to Fleet Library’s Visual and Material Resource Center.  
Twenty-four volumes dating from 2004 to 2017, they are a visual feast of color and texture created by individual artisans.
Complete volumes may be viewed in the VMRC, Fleet Library room 204, on the 2nd floor of the Roger Mandle Center for Living and Learning, 15 Westminster Street.

Henry Spuria

Interfacing with Color

May 25-June 5, 2023
This fifth-year double-major graduate project (Graphic Design, Industrial Design) investigates the distinctive way we interface with designed objects; a flashing amber light signifies a warning, an RGB blue implicates the web, and a green app icon represents technical information. These design decisions imbue a psychological and behavioral framework onto everyday objects and interfaces we surround ourselves with. But what would happen if we, as designers, enabled users to assume the role and generate their colors, shapes, typography, or other design assets? This project aims to allow users to understand generative design through different variables and tools within the exhibition space. It also features a reading corner that presents research, analysis, and frameworks around user interaction and experience design so that we might better understand the politics, analytics, and parameters implicit in every designed object. Color is such a vital tool in the expression of designed things and assets, it’s also a historically politically embroiled medium of design and art-making; by presenting color as a variable, both in print and digital form, users can unlock a perspective on how to interface with color and technology.The technology we interface with daily is diffuse and counter-intuitive. What would it look like to return to familiar, tactile, and tangible interfaces to evoke results? In this world, where a dial controls a color value, a button controls the blur, and slider pages through imagery, designed objects are meant to be interacted with, hacked, and broken. In this world, textual information is meant to be processed, re-configured, and recombined. These elements, which straddle the physical and digital, culminate in an experience founded in the innate nature of design; whether the design is textual, colorful, informational, or expressive, it is all meant to be made and remixed.

Ella Knight

An Architect’s Toolkit for Color Theory

May 18-24, 2023

This graduate project (M-ARCH 23) investigates the discipline's relationship and valuation of the use of color to bring awareness to both implicit and explicit cultural biases within the architectural practice. It’s important to address that many of these notions have come from the student’s experiences living in the US, working with American Architects, and attending three different American schools of architecture. From her limited experience on the professional side, Knight has observed how paint colors and material finishes are put at the very end of the process and left to interior designers. In the actual design process, architects are all taught to start with modeling white boxes, taking after modernist pedagogy and giving preference to minimalist aesthetics. In American architectural education, color theory is not a required aspect of design curriculum. These Eurocentric biases towards color were coined “chromophobia” by David Batchelor in his book of the same name. The erasure of color from Greco-Roman architecture is an early example of chromophobia. Hellenistic architecture was vibrantly painted, but when studied centuries later European scholars disregarded the evidence of color; the Greeks were considered genius while bright colors were associated with the aesthetics of “savage nations,” (Wolfgang von Goethe’s Theory of Colors). The false whiteness of antiquity then became idolized in Neo-Classical Architecture, further associating white with purity and supremacy, only to be later reinforced by modernists.

Mode Yellow 5

Toxic Interlocutory

April 15-May 15, 2023

MODE YELLOW 5 harnesses spacial interfaces to readjust the Overton Window on some of this era’s most pressing complexities. The RISD Spring 2023 installations dive into questions of earth systems. More specifically, we prod our viewers to look closer and interrogate the process and forms of labor that are involved in modern curations of nature. We hope that we can reveal some often overlooked realities of the cosmetic infrastructure and inspire people to examen the role that artists and designers play in facilitating the invisible toxicities that have become the air we breath.

Creative Direction: Kiki Nyagah. Advising: Charlie Cannon, Lafayette Cruise. Team: Chris Webber | Production Lead , Kuem Hee Rhee | Production, Sandrupty Das| Origami, Julio Berrora | Immersions, Cody Young | Horticulture & Landscape, Lena Luo | Glass , Ben Riley | Terrariums, Ariel Aravot | Glass, Femi Shonuga-Fleming | Soundscapes, Lydia Chodosh| Typography

Hope Leeson

Colors of the Land

March 1–April 7, 2023

Artist Zoom presentation:
6:00pm EDT, April 4, 2023.

An installation by Hope Leeson (botanist and part-time faculty for Liberal Arts Science and Landscape Design and Architecture), funded by a Color Lab Faculty Fellowship. The body of work represents a year-long investigation into natural dye colors given by plants indigenous to South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The color palette is an expression of the land’s changing seasons, the terroir, and presents the visual dialect of the land to viewers.  

Industrial Design Winteression Class

Advanced Computer-Aided Design

January 26–February 15, 2023

Students from the Industrial Design course, Advanced Computer Aided Design course led by Andy Law (Associate Professor, ID), were asked to create a color palette or use the one shared by Law: Palettes Book One (pdf, 380 pages) or Palettes Book Two (pdf, 380 pages), to reference music videos.

The work was produced in the open-source 3D software Blender referencing Blender’s vast and accessible learning community of YouTube videos. All the images used the AI tool Intel Open Image Denoise that reduced final image rendering time by 75%, using less carbon.

The exhibition features the work of RISD Industrial, Graphic and Architecture and Brown University Computer Science students: Joyce Ho, Xavier Lee, Helen Peng, Zack Cheng, Mandy Liu, Santiago Alvarado, Connie Cheng, Sara Choi, Sarah Frix, Claire Guo, Joy Ham, Angela Lobel, Charles Wang, Echo Yao, Andy Zheng, Rita Zhu. and Jupiter Shi. Teaching Assistant Ty Ko designed and installed the exhibition.

Jiemin Park

The Colors of Stress

January 6–25, 2023

An installation of work by Jiemin Park (GLASS, 2022), the exhibition is inspired by the materiality of glass itself and the results created by the material in response to the choices and actions of the artist. Stabilized glass does not show any colors but stressed glass reveals various colors. With the level of stress directly resulting in color intensity, the artist presents the irony that the most beautiful and vivid colors are actual markers of extreme stress and explores the idea that beauty could be an expression of suffering.

Rachel Berwick

A Near and a Far: Rubies, Cobalts, Opals, and Crystal

Artist Zoom presentation: 6:30pm EDT, September 27, 2022.

Color Lab Faculty Fellow Exhibition
September 1-October 10, 2022

An exhibition of Berwick's (Professor, Glass) ongoing research of structural color in crystal and hummingbird feathers. Conducted with the support of a RISD Color Lab Research Fellowship and work within RISD Glass, The Nature Lab, and RISD Prints.

Sara Jordenö

Ektachrome: collocations & counter-reactions

Color Lab Faculty Fellow Exhibition
May 17-June 3, 2022
Presentation May 17th at 6:30pm

RISD Color Lab is proud to present EKTACHROME – collocations & counter-reactions, a video installation by Sara Jordenö. As part of their Color Lab Faculty Fellowship, Sara Jordenö (Assistant Professor in Film/Video/Animation) investigates the material properties of the color reversal 16 mm film stock Ektachrome. Documentation of family life becomes a site of trauma as a Rhode Island law demand the filmmaker succumb to a humiliating criminal investigation to gain parental rights of their own daughter. When efforts to legislate a ban on any mentioning of LGBTQIA subjects or history gains traction among parents in the local schools, the filmmaker and their children explore techniques to deteriorate the film strip. EKTACHROME asks questions about memory, archive and the emblematic and binary representation of family, while simultaneously exposing the instabilities and reversals of LGBTQIA+ and reproductive rights in the United States. The project is on view 24/7 in the Picture Window Gallery on 30 Main Street, Providence, from May 17 – June 3, 2022. Everyone is welcome to a virtual opening/artist talk at 6.30 pm on May 17, 2022.

Daniel Lefcourt

Query: Evidence of Color Research

Color Lab Faculty Fellow Exhibition
April 4-29, 2022

Query is a set of large-format digital prints which accumulate long-term color research into digitally rendered scientific displays. The displays, which create a “laboratory” of real objects and digitally fabricated images, undermine the concept of scientific authority using humor and deception. For Lefcourt, presenting evidence of research isn’t only a requirement for recipients of academic funding; it is an opportunity to play with the very idea of ‘evidence.’

Abiola Makinde, Ariela Kanarek, Brian Qi, Carina Lee, Carl Soonawalla, Elisabeth Tai, Garner Gardner, Hannah Skye Dunnigan, Jenny Du, Jessica Young, Kason Wang, Leon Lau, Louis Hand, Lucy Blake, Manini Banerjee, Silas Gibbins, Stephanie Park,
Tian Tian, Timothy Li

Color Citation

Work from the Students Andy Law, Industrial Design
January 25-February 21, 2022

"Color Citation" is a collection of digital artworks from the advanced CAD students of Andy Law, associate professor of Industrial Design. The work in "Color Citation" was inspired by the color and form palettes of diverse and decentered sources such as Alex Bernasconi, Alex Goad, Anni Albers, Ayako Takase, Bridget Riley, Carmen Herrera, Christopher John Rogers, Ettore Sottsass, George Sowden, Guo Zhiheng, Helen Frankenthaler, Ibrahim Kamara, James Turrell, Kari Bienert, Keith Sonnier, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Ma Yansong, Martine Bedin, Mary Corse, Nathalie du Pasquier, Robert Irwin, Sol LeWitt, Solange Knowles, Yinka Ilori and Yosuke Yamada.

(Image by Timothy Li)

Chaeeun An

Color Breathing

Student Exhibition

January 6-21, 2022

“Color Breathing” was a series of interactive posters by Chaeeun An (BFA GD 2023) that visualize the relationship of complementary colors for meditation.

Geruihan Xu, Beth Johnston, Yiling Wang,
Bella Bergam, Tianyi Xie, Ann Dinh,
Megan Chao, Zitong Hui

Transparent Matter
Student Exhibition
March 26-May 10, 2021 

"Transparent Matter" was an interdisiplinary course being co-taught in 2021 by Sheri Wills (FAV) and Jocelyne Prince (Glass) and supported by the Academic Enrichment Fund. Each week, a new loop of gesture videos that were made as part of the course's exploration of the idea of performative matter screened against Color Lab windows.

Craig Taylor

Color Lab Faculty Fellow Exhibition

March 2-April 30, 2021

Color Lab Faculty Fellow Craig Taylor (Associate Professor of Painting) used his grant to experiment with the interaction of color in his ongoing series of Busts/Portraits/Formats. As a strategy, seriality is deployed to demonstrate how color can create content that is often connected to an emotive or evocative state. In TESTS:Variants, Taylor presented a new series of chromatic sculptures cast from a single mold. Each sculpture functioned as a site for the exploration of color systems. During the production of the sculptures, a short single-channel video depicting the bust as a source was found and created.

Exhibition: unoriginal palette: color citation by clearer means
An Installation by Andy Law (Industrial Design)

March 5–30, 2020

Archived past events on 
Digital Commons @ RISD

The Color Lab Collection

Our library of resources is contantly growing.  View our collection and request items here through the Visual+Materials Resource Center at the Fleet Library. Please visit regularly to see what’s new.

-Over 300 common and rare dry pigments
-Over 50 books covering a wide breadth of topics related to color study
-A unique collection of 150 historic textile dyes and colorants from the American Textile History Museum
-A collection of rare indigo cakes produced in the late 19th century
-A collection of laboratory glassware and an induction hot plate that can be used to mix and experiment with a variety of artist’s materials-An X-Rite i1Studio Spectrophotometer for calibrating and profiling monitors, projectors, scanners, and printers (available through RISD Media Resources checkout system).

-A complete collection of professional reference fan decks and swatch binders containing architectural coating offerings from Benjamin Moore
-A collection of professional sample boards for acrylic paints and mediums from Golden Artist Colors
-A Munsell 3D “Color Tree” and accompanying “Book of Color" models for visualizing color space
-An offering of promotional brochures featuring design trends and coating specifications from Benjamin Moore
-A collection of designer’s reference fan decks and swatch binders from Pantone, including CMYK coated and uncoated, metallic, pastel and neon, extended gamut, and other-A collection of Panelite samples -A 3D swatch library of the “Pantone Plastics Color System"
-A Sony 55 inch LCD display with Apple TV
-A changing inventory of informational posters and signage compiled and designed by RISD staff that feature the ideas, concepts, and color study methods of prominent colorists such as Albers, Munsell, and Itten

Color Served Daily
The RISD Color Lab is a multiplatform space where faculty and students can engage with the one aspect of art and design that draws us all together : COLOR

︎   ︎

Visit the Color Lab
Our exhibition space is viewable from the street at 30 North Main. Our physical materials collection may be requested through the Visual + Material Resource Center at Fleet Library.