The Colors of Le Corbusier

Henry Ford was famous for saying a customer could have any color of car she or he wanted, so long as it's black—a nod to how the industrialist viewed color, all function no fun. Black paint dried the fastest, and that mattered more than the expressionistic qualities of different colors. Many modern architects shared a similar obsession with the sterile white box and dismiss color as mere ornament.

Not Le Corbusier. The renowned Swiss architect believed color was instrumental to orchestrating spatial effects. In a series of wallpapers for the Swiss company Salubra, he rhapsodized about his color theories. "Each of us, according to his own psychology, is controlled by one or more dominant colors," he wrote in a 1931 swatch book for the brand, which was inspired by his Architectural Polychromy essay from 1930.

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