Raw Color’s Temperature Textiles bring climate change data to vivid knits
Revealed poignantly during Dutch Design Week and Cop26, the range combines graphical data with Raw Color’s signature rich hues.
- Ayla Angelos
- 5 November 2021
Raw Color is a studio that knows how to create a pleasing hue or two. A design studio founded by Christoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar, the duo work together on a plethora of projects and commissions spanning graphic design, photography and product design for clients including Adidas, Dutch Invertuals, Nanimarquina, Samsung and TextielMuseum. What ties all the studio’s work together, though, is a commitment to colour – analysing particularly how colour can shape and influence the world around us. This extends to its latest project, Temperature Textiles, a range of richly colourful knitted textiles including blankets, scarves and socks adorned with graphical climate data.
The range has launched during Cop26 and, simultaneously, Dutch Design Week, at Raw Color’s Eindhoven studio, hoping to use the platform to respond to global talking points around climate change. Thanks to the studio’s expertise in colour selection and combination, the Temperature Textiles are instantly eye-catching and covetable. Once attention is grabbed, the pieces can then inform the user of vital information or prompt them to find out more. The range splits into three categories covering temperature change, sea-level rise and emissions, three main drivers and results of global warming. The charts on the Sea Level Blanket, for example, illustrate the observed and predicted sea-level rise from 2000-2100 while the socks range from 2020 until 2050. The colours on the Emission blanket represent warm and cool shades, and the graphics are based on climate data; similarly, the Temperature Scarf and Blankets feature graphs denoting how global temperatures are predicted to rise if emissions aren’t reduced.
Before the Temperature Textiles release, we spoke to Raw Color about its recent release Project Planum, to find out more about its approach to colour in design. The collaboration with textile manufacturer Kvadrat and designer Fabrik sees the studio releasing three projects covering upholstery knit, installation, four quilts and a series of frames. As per all its endeavours, Project Planum presents Raw Color’s knowledge, passion and understanding of colour. Again, the studio brings its expertise to textiles and applies it throughout three different projects: Chroma Columns, Quarantine Quilts and Field Frames. “We are always on the hunt for inspiring small pieces that have beautiful colours,” Christoph tells It’s Nice That. “These can be rubber bands, buttons, a stone or plastic fork.” For this project, in particular, the team whittled down their objects of choice and started to rearrange them in colour groups. “It has been a really intuitive approach.” After which, the most convincing hues are selected and then the idea is formed. “The collection needed to be balanced with bold and saturated shades but at the same time these shades needed to be accompanied by more muted and sophisticated colours,” adds Daniera. “The textile has a plain and uniform character, using too many bright colours could make the appearance and collection too hard.” Meanwhile, to avoid the palette becoming dull or flat, they added some contrast and accents to the collection.
Oftentimes, as designers, they tend to get approached with a commission to design textile, then the brand and other designers apply their shapes to the material. For this project, it worked a little differently as the Raw Colour team were able to test out different hues. “When Planum was applied on a bigger scale as in Chroma Columns or mid-size in Quarantine Quilts or smaller size in Field Frames, it all made a difference,” says Christoph. Overall, the team have created more than 350 hand-painted swatches of colour, devised from the Raw Color team themselves and consciously put together. For instance, they were able to have greater autonomy while constructing the colours to their desired shade; how much red to mix with yellow, should they add some blue or black, or give it a little softness were thoughts they considered. “Often, we made ranges of one colour type so we could investigate the interesting tipping points, such as does a dark red become a brown,” adds Daniera.
In Chroma Columns, Raw Color has created vertical pylons that have been crafted from colourful yarn. Block hues separate the structure into distinctive segments, each of which is marked with its own earthy hue. “The soft pliability of the knitted textile smoothly covers the hard mechanics of the engines and electronics hidden in the columns,” says Christoph. Quarantine Quilts, on the other hand, was composed during the midst of the pandemic (hence the name). The team “utilised the time to investigate how to work with limited resources and how to transform a crisis into a possibility,” notes Daniera. The result is equally as geometric and muted as the installation. Field Frames sees knitwear become art as their bold colour palettes are meticulously framed in wood – a wonderful juxtaposition to the tones and texture of the textiles. “The idea that beauty is in the details and that the absence of the unnecessary enhances the essence plays a central role in Field Frames,” continues Christoph.
Speaking of the team’s favourite blends that arose from this project, Daniera explains how they particularly liked the “sophisticated in-between shades,” specifically the greyish sage-like green. “There is a light and muted bluish green that evokes references of vintage workwear,” she says. “We also love the reddish warm grey that refers to a mauve-like shade.” Comparatively, they also adore the more saturated shades that blossomed from their experimentations, “that share the same blend characteristics of in-betweenness.” For instance, there’s a “very outspoken” orange tone and bright blue that glimmers with a sprinkling of lilac. All make appearances throughout the chapters of Project Planum in their own unique way. “It was great to play around having the orange-red next to the sage-like green,” she notes.
Project Planum doesn’t merely depict a beautiful array of colour swatches, it shows an art for craft and experimentation. And, having been devised over lockdown, it shows that even the complicated obstacles of a pandemic should never get in the way of creativity. “If people look at Project Planum it should radiate creativity,” says Christoph. “It is also about the fun and pleasure of creating. It’s about the interaction of colours on several levels; from defining a palette of a collection to composing with the palette.”
Response & Responsibility – Cop26
During the next two weeks, over 120 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow to agree on the actions needed to pull the earth back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. The most important conference of our lifetime, in response, we are exploring creative responses to the climate crisis throughout the duration of Cop26.
Raw Color: Project Planum, Quarantine Quilts (Copyright © Raw Color, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.