This year I had the honour of being a judge for the Colour in Design Awards (CIDA) UK and that’s where I got to hear about Phoebe Lewis. Phoebe entered the awards showcasing her natural pigments made from seaweed, showing not only the beautiful colours that could be created, but how she does this in a sustainable way and helping revive coastal communities. The judging panel was so impressed by her level of research, skill and passion that she was our Colour in Design Awards 2021 winner. Come and meet Phoebe and read more about her love of colour over on the Colour Couch…
What do you love most about working with colour?
I enjoy the endless possibilities of colour combinations and seeing how different pigments will interact in various settings. I also really appreciate that the people within the colour world are so passionate and excited about it that it feels so natural to be constantly inspired.
What do you think your life would be like without colour?
This is something I’ve often contemplated, considering designs for maps and layouts that were more accommodating to people with different forms of colour vision deficiency. I think that I would find the world a lot harder to navigate and would need to re-learn how to express that side of creativity.
Were you ever afraid or wary of colour? And what did you do to overcome this?
I guess like a lot of people, I found comfort in wearing more muted tones and never really straying far from black or white clothing. I was definitely scared of wearing something that would stand out or provoke comments from other people, particularly if it was going to be negative.
I accidentally overcame this when I watched a TED Talk by Neil Harbisson titled ‘I Listen to Color’. Neil Harbisson is completely colour-blind so he sees the world in greyscale, however he has a colour sensing device attached to a chip in his head which interprets colours as sounds. It’s absolutely incredible and definitely worth a watch, but the reason I found it so freeing of my inbuilt ‘colour fear’ is that he was so connected to the way colours made him feel, having never seen what they look like, to the point that he started dressing in ways that sounded good and made him happy. This really deconstructed my understanding of colour as a form of expression and helped me relax into a more diverse wardrobe.
Do you have a favourite colour place that you visit (or have visited)?
The beaches surrounding Torquay in Devon have red sand which contrasts really beautifully with everything around it. I spent a lot of time growing up around there to see my family and it still fascinates me every time I visit.
For anyone afraid of colour what would your number 1 piece of advice be?
Experiment and try to have fun with it! Your comfortability and confidence will speak far louder than any colour you wear.
Which colourful person do you most admire and would love me to interview for the On the Colour Couch series?
I’d have to say Neil Harbisson, for his interpretation of colour and for how his talk transformed my own interpretation.
Don’t you just love Phoebe’s love of colour and wanting to explore pigments and the colours she can create and I couldn’t agree more with her comment that “Your comfortability and confidence will speak far louder than any colour you wear”. It’s not about how loud or bright the colours are, we are all colourful, even the most subtle of us. And Neil Harbisson is such an inspiration. Thank you Phoebe for suggesting him. Fingers cross he will say yes to joining us on The Colour Couch.
And if you would like to meet Phoebe and see the magical colours she creates from seaweed she is exhibiting as part of London Design Festival this weekend And if you would like to meet Phoebe and see the magical colours she creates from seaweed she will be at the London Design Festival this weekend Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September exhibiting her project at Green Grads in Samsung at Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4DQ.
If you would like to discover more about Phoebe, head over to her Instagram @phoebeemmalewis.
Wishing you a colourful day,