Thursday Salute to Originals: Colors Anonymous

One of the best parts about going back to school was always that fresh new box of crayons. The Burnt Siennas, Cornflower Blues and Carnation Pinks neatly sharpened, unbroken, and nestled in their respective slots, just beckoning to fill pages of the coloring book with their glorious hues.


But what if when you went to select your color, you couldn’t simply look at the label on the crayon to identify your favorite tint? (Wait, what happened to my Jungle Green? And where’s the Brick Red?! ) What if you had to choose your crayon based solely on its color recipe, the colors and proportions that comprise that specific hue? Sounds strange, right? But there may be more to this idea than you think.


In an effort to completely redefine how color and color theory are learned, Japanese design twosome, Imai Moteki, have developed a series of paints that are identified not by monikers, but instead, by the colors and proportions of those colors that combine to create that specific shade. Their argument is that too much focus is placed the name of a color and as a result, we don’t really learn or intuitively understand how the hue is made. (It’s kind of like being able to identify a dish as chicken noodle soup, but not being able to name any of the ingredients used to make it).


Called simply “Nameless Paints”, Imai (one half of the Imai Moteki team) says the goal of the set is simple: “By not assigning names to the colors we want to expand the definition of what a color can be, and the various shades they can create by mixing them.”


While it may not be as easy to articulate as a named color – “Hey, can I borrow your ‘little bit of blue + little bit of red + a lot of yellow’” is a perplexing mouthful – but the potential to redefine how we associate colors and apply color theory is certainly an innovative notion that will make any art-lover proud.

We salute Imai Moteki for their intentionally ambiguous colors and radical way of thinking. When preconceptions are removed from our artistic tools, one can only imagine the limitless creations that can be dreamed up!

Image credits: Bill Boggs, Bored Panda