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color theory installation

Color Theory Installation is an interactive installation with a central tube surrounded by colored backgrounds and nine smaller tubes holding two different colors of balls. Users are prompted to match the balls to either the top or bottom of the tube and acknowledge that perceived hues can change based on the context.


2.5 weeks, Nov 2019


Joanne Chen, Ariel Chiang


Ideation, Sketching, Visuals, and Prototype


used to check and match the colored balls to the same colored top or bottom


the installation can be flipped around to play the same game using the other color


holds the 9 colored balls in place. when the plates are turned, the balls drops down to match the bottom color of the central tube


there are two different colors of balls, matching either the top or bottom color on the central tube


change the perceived colors of the balls, according to the simultaneous contrast theory


the brief

Demonstrate Josef Albers’ simultaneous contrast, the viewer's understanding of color changes based on context, through a 2d or 3d object which viewers can interact with.

design research

To better understand the concept of Josef Albers' color theory, our team researched the simultaneous color theory and tested out color combinations that can effectively demonstrate the principle.


Josef Albers' color theory states that we rarely see a color that is not affected by or relative to another color.


When a pair of same colors appears against various backgrounds, they appear different; when a pair of different colors appears against different backgrounds, they can appear the same. This is simultaneous contrast, which is the theory is that one color can change how we perceive the tone and hue of another when the two are placed side by side.


Since a pair of same colors appear different when they are against various backgrounds and vice versa, we decided to design a product that could demonstrate both principles.

First, we chose two shades of blue as the main colors. (see below) Second, we tested different background colors that would change the perceived hue and tone of the blues. 

In the end, we determined that there would be two types of background colors. One would make the two shades of blues appear the same. The other one would make the same color (both shades of blues) appear different.

工作區域 2@300x.png
工作區域 2@300x.png
工作區域 2 複本@300x.png

examples of color pairs selected

工作區域 2 複本 2@300x.png

examples of color testing selected

concept development

After testing different color combinations that would best demonstrate the color theory principles, we proceeded to ideate the form and features of a product / game that users can interact with.


Both my partner and I were interested in designing a 3D interactive product that would demonstrate the principle. We were inspired by the colorful 3D maze balls we played as young kids and wanted to bring the aspect of playing and matching into our product. We envisioned it to be both an installation and a game that requires observing and thinking. 


We sketched out the form of the product, possible materials to work with, placement of the color combinations on the installation, and the overall mechanism. 

project 4-02.jpg
project 4-02.jpg
project 4-02.jpg


With a refined concept and sketches, we began to build our prototype using glass tubes, acrylic boards, acrylic paints, and wooden balls. After two weeks of cutting, painting, and assembling the various parts together, we successfully visualized our color theory installation into a 3D interactive game.

process documentation

final design

The images below shows the details of the color theory installation in the final prototype.