Laura Guido-Clark loves color.
As a designer, Guido-Clark has dedicated much of her 37-year career to how the colors around us affect our mood, experience, and wellbeing. Her eponymous design studio has worked with such clients as Herman-Miller, Apple, DWR, and Samsung, helping them choose colors and finishes that evoke specific emotional responses in their products.
That experience led her to found a nonprofit, Project Color Corps, in 2011 to help bring vibrancy to urban schools often devoid of color and design.
In 2017 Laura founded Love Good Color an immersive training workshop and intuitive color navigational tool that helps you tap into the emotional power of color, allowing creatives to communicate and express themselves through color more easily, fluently and effectively.
Our team at Convene recently took part in this workshop, and I sat down with Guido-Clark beforehand to talk color and why it matters.
Andrew Littlefield: Who is Laura Guido-Clark?
Laura Guido-Clark: I am a woman who is passionate about the empowerment of color. I really believe in the power of color. I think color reminds us that we’re human, and I feel that there’s sometimes a fear of using color in spaces or on objects. And I’ve devoted my life—whether it’s through my nonprofit, Project Color Corps, or through this new way of teaching people about color—to shifting the way people think and bring more color to the world because I think we need it.
AL: Why do you think people are afraid of color?
LGC: I think people feel they can do it wrong. We’re born loving or knowing color, but I think sometimes we fear being judged, and I notice people are a little bit reticent. If you look at the architecture around us, there’s very little color. People will argue that it’s about longevity, but I also think it’s about a deeper understanding of how powerful a tool it can be and what it can really say.
AL: What brought you to this mission in life? How did you grow to love color?
LGC: When I was 10, I saw The Wizard of Oz, and that changed my life. When walked into Oz, I went with her. I never realized that I was in this black and white world. What happened to me emotionally when she walked into Oz was so powerful that I realized color was one of the most powerful mediums. I became really intrigued with color.
AL: Why does color matter?
LGC: It matters because it’s highly emotive. It matters because we read human expression through color. It matters because we connect in that way. It matters because it’s not just through our eyes that we see color—we feel color. Even on a purely economic level, it matters. It’s why people trademark their colors because it gives them a space and an advantage that they haven’t had before.
AL: Who do you think uses color effectively?
LGC: I love Luis Barragán, the Mexican architect. He is so profound in his use of color, and the way even in his home he studied the way light changed color over time. People like him really move me, because he understood. He knew exactly what he was saying with his buildings and how he used color strategically.
AL: Do you have a favorite colorful spot in your town?
LGC: In Berkeley? I’m going to have to say that one of my favorite things are the murals that we’re doing for our project, Project Color Corps, which is the nonprofit I founded in 2011. We teach kids about color, and we change urban environments. So drab and beige schools become transformed, and they’re transformed through the kids and the community, an understanding of what they want and how they want to feel. There are several in the Bay Area and in the East Bay. These spaces make me happy because I have a deep connection to the process and to the community.
AL: What’s the purpose behind Project Color Corps?
LGC: We call it “optical optimism.” It’s this idea that it’s very hard to muster up a sense of hope when everything around you is drab, and it’s not joyful. We believe that beauty is a human right and that we can change that through the power of color and pattern. We go into urban environments, and through our program and through our connections with really amazing design firms like Gensler and Fuseproject, we transform schools into really beautiful environments.
AL: What’s a recent project that the team completed?
LGC: We just did Madison Academy a couple weeks ago in Oakland. It was a really wonderful school. We use really good paint contractors, and then we also bring in volunteers. It’s a wonderful balance of knowing where we really need professionals so that the community gets really impeccable work and where we can get big-hearted volunteers to come and help us transform those environments. And the community comes out. We worked with a really wonderful young designer named Liam Clark, he’s fantastic.
AL: Do you get to see that moment when the kids see it for the first time?
LGC: I get to see the transformative process where the kids are painting and seeing it transform, and it’s pretty amazing. We do a school educational seminar, and the kids are so excited, then we come back, and they vote (on the colors). They get to vote on two palettes and whatever wins is what we implement. The kids are really, really involved, and then they come out with their families, it’s amazing.
AL: You mentioned that people fear of using color. I wouldn’t imagine kids exhibit that same fear.
LGC: Not at all.
AL: When does that get beat out of us?
LGC: I don’t know. Maybe at that point when people feel like other peoples’ opinions matter. I think we lose a little bit of confidence in ourselves and the trust that we actually do know these things. I think color is a language. I believe we’re born knowing this language. That’s just something I deeply believe in, but I don’t know at what point the shift happens, but I do know that it does.