Eponymous Orange

Eponymous Orange

With a name that resists description to honor its citrus origin, and fittingly usurping one of the few nouns that can’t be rhymed, orange is an exception to the singular identity of other color names. As Michael Rossi recently reported in “Colors/Orange”, Albert Munsell actually denied orange its own name in his widely-adopted color system in favor of YR (yellow-red) due to its linguistic duplicity, and the “scientific convenience” of abiding by the decimal system – restricting the primary colors to Red, Purple, Blue, Green and Yellow(1). Munsell felt that precarious balance which orange occupies.

If expressed on a canvas, it would appear hidden in the thick peeling wallpaper effect of a Clyfford Still, or overflowing in the thin washes of a Rothko. For certain it would be as likely to congeal into a viscid skin on the palette as it would take flight in the lightest turpentine or citrus vapor. In both translations, orange is engaged in a perpetual balance; radiating, oscillating, and alive.

AWA’s mandarin orange is defined in light by the RGB values: 250, 166, 26, and in ink CMYK by the values: 0, 40, 100, 0. In oil paints, the AWA orange would be captured by an approximate mix of 35% cadmium yellow, 5% cadmium red light and 60% yellow ochre. However, the cadmiums can swing it to favor a red or a yellow in mere fractions of a gram, making the proper orange a challenge to achieve. As paint attempts to describe whatever the eyes perceive or long to perceive, a delicate hand must decide.

Across the surface and into the depths of the AWA orange, it floods over clouds when viewed from an airplane window. Indicating either dawn or dusk by its intensity and saturation, the duplicity of orange can strike different moods dramatically; awakening to fresh ideas and renewal, as well as settling into the warm and inviting nature of evening. The various perceptions of the color speak to a key concept of AWA’s thinking; that a variety of interpretations of the same light or color are inherent across cultures, and that this amounts to a richness and depth in design.

Written by: Jackie Guido

(1) Rossi, Michael. “Colors/Orange.” Cabinet Magazine Issue #41 Spring 2011:14-17.

Mark Rothko "Orange and Yellow2"