constructing with color

Spatial Affairs has become known for its ability to ‘construct space’ with careful use of color. Typically, across a chromatic range, developed strategically for the particular project and client, a combination of strong but relatively retreating base colors are used in combination with a very limited more dominant series of accent colors.

At Crosstown Concourse in Memphis, the 30’ diameter winding stair was painted in a bright fluorescent coral both to act as an interior landmark in a massive footprint building, but also to identify the focal point for Crosstown Arts within the larger building. The final custom ‘dayglow’ color was generated in tandem with the client after a period of color testing in the field.

fluorescent coral staircase at Crosstown Concourse

Upstairs, at the top of the stair, the room is painted in a very dark blue, also custom generated for the project, that balances the bright stair, but also acts as a useful backdrop for digital projects and other art displays in the space.

The Hypostile Hall at Crosstown Concourse

In the larger interior conditions, we tend to approach the space as landscape, and furniture becomes a crucial part of the composition, perhaps as vegetation may form a softer force in an external environment.

For the new ‘park’ at Chiat Day, existing furniture was powder-coated in a graduated series of greens, amongst newly built custom furniture in warm red oak, against a new charcoal pigmented concrete floor slab. One chair was painted in fluorescent coral and finds itself moving across the park throughout the day.


Physical models are used to test both physical layout and color scenarios during the planning stages (horses optional).


We use color at the domestic scale also, and in this kitchen, a series of ‘blacks’ provide a subtle intricacy, with one primary statement. The approach helps to emphasize the kitchen ‘cut-out’ as part of the larger room, which remains consistently warm white to allow the sculptural qualities of the interior to dominate.


Beyond paint, or block color, material qualities, like wood type, grain and treatment, ceramic tile, fabric or mirror finish may be used to create a richness.

This vertical double-cube bathroom has hand-painted cement tiles from Morocco below, with blue-backed ‘black mirror’ above.


Meanwhile, fabric is used in this ‘retreat center’ to gather light and soften the effect of a glass block wall, in tandem with an upholstered wallpaper, for a very intimate feel.


Each project can find new ways of bringing together color and texture for a specific spatial experience.