The colors of Le Corbusier.

From the book’s Postscript 2005:
"In 1996-97, Birkhäuser Publishers undertook a risky experiment when publishing a new edition of Polychromie architecturale. From the beginning it was clear that the reproduction of colors in art book printing would not suffice. At the time, a partner was found in the Alsatian company of Adrien and Robert Marx; not only were they manufacturing monochrome wallpapers using glue printing in accurate colors but they were also able to assemble the "claviers de couleurs" by hand using the original technique. The three-volume publication found a large circle of interested readers worldwide, and — most gratifying of all — left several traces in contemporary architecture."

"Soon after the publication of Polychromie architecturale, the paint chemist Katrin Trautwein became enthusiastic about the possibility of Le Corbusier’s color rows, and she began to work with the natural and synthetic mineral pigments that had originally been used. She succeeded in establishing, with the agreement of the Fondation Le Corbusier, production of colors that has meanwhile proven its worth not only for exhibitions and restorations — especially for the work of Le Corbusier himself — but also for contemporary architecture and furniture designs. It therefore made sense to use this approach for the second edition of Polychromie architecturale and thus reconstruct Le Corbusier’s color definition, which was based directly on traditional mineral pigments that were the commercial standard in his day. The luminosity and stability of the shades under changing light conditions inherent in this method cannot be surpassed."

I found the 3-volume set at the Urban Center Books sale (40% off the entire store until they close on January 23). It’s an extraordinary thing. These are painted papers, based on two collections of Salubra wallpapers produced with Le Corbusier in 1931 and 1959. I made a quick attempt to translate the “Salubra II” 1959 palette onto the screen, more for a first impression than anything else (above). Somehow I’ll find a way to use these colors. I’ll try to get the 1931 colors up too. This deserves attention and some way to make the remarkable color combos more relevant for designers today.


  1. ma gustao mucho ehh, el corbu este

  2. These colors are excellent. I would love to use them in a project. The sample books from KT color are very expensive because they are hand made from the real paints.

    The descriptions of the paint colors read like a found poem.

    LC 43.1 Rouge vif Bright cinnabar redshade
    LC 43.2 Ivoire Like the tusk of an elephant
    LC 43.3 Rose A remarkable rose
    LC 43.4 Terre de Sienne brûlée Burnt Siena
    LC 43.5 Noir Absolute black, especially in Emulsion paint
    LC 43.6 Vert olive Olive green with quite a life of its own

  3. Pingback: Le Corbusier’s Paint Color Schemes

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