Corbusier Color – The History of the Corbusier Paint

At Colour Studio, we love a bold matte paint. And yet, in the United States, it is nearly impossible to find. There is always a little bit of sheen in the finish, which is especially visible in deep saturated hues. Shine on a wall surface bounces light back toward your eye, giving the surface a hard, impenetrable feel. Worse yet is when the deep hue takes on a synthetic or plastic like appearance. In contrast, a matte finish allows your eye to sink into the wall plane, giving colors a mysterious depth.

A few years ago, friends alerted us to a color book and fan deck from a company that sold matte finish paint palettes by Le Corbusier. Yes, Le Corbusier.

Some fifty years after his death, Le Corbusier’s achievements have firmly established him as one of the most influential figures, not only in modern architecture, but in the art world as a whole. He wore many hats as a writer, painter, urban planner, designer and architect. His work with color is less discussed, perhaps because we remember most of his modernism only through black and white photography. Many of his projects utilized white, natural wood or concrete against saturated bright colors to enhance form, volume and space.

He was commissioned by the Swiss manufacturer Salubra in the 1930s to design two series of wallpapers. The first were released in 1932, where he invented and revealed his color keyboard. His arrangement suggested how a designer should use the colors in combination.

Each color in the system has a unique background as Le Corbusier ground his own minerals and pigments to create each color. The Foundation Le Corbusier in Paris manages all of Le Corbusier’s work and Les Couleurs Suisse AG is the exlusive licensor of the original architectural colors. Fan decks, samples books, and other color tools are available for purchase on the Les Couleurs website.

We thank the man for his color legacy and find the palette offered to be timeless.