FAQ Lokalkolorit 2015 English


What is “Lokalkolorit‘?
‚Lokalkolorit‘ (e.g.‘Local Colour‘) is a research project of the interior design
programme of the School of Design of the University of Applied Sciences Mainz launched by Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Markus Pretnar.

The project investigates a method for quick and easy ways to capture the colour-based identities of cities and villages. The evaluation of this method is expected to provide insights in the colour-based capture of the interaction of colour, space, city and perception which will result in the first cartography of local colour patterns in a spatial context.

What is the occasion for the research project?
I am teaching the subject “Colour and Space“ at the faculty interior design programme. The definition of the colour-based identity of spaces is a basic question in interior design. There is a great desire for functional colour design within the meaning of psychological or socio-cultural effects.

At the same time, colour is both, an individual signifier and an emotional experience; at this point colour as such escapes any universal functionality
One working hypothesis of the project is that there actually are locally oriented colour cultures that affect identity and perception of spaces. Consequently, collection and description of these “Local Colours“ may be the basis for further findings in the field of colour design.

Notably against the background of globalised media aesthetics, global marketing strategies and the vague feeling that city centres are becoming more and more similar, from both the visual and atmospheric point of view, the findings of this research may provide a basis for a differentiated discussion on the purpose of colour design.

Why city and not interior?
To a certain degree, the principles of design are, in fact, universal; compared with the concept interior that is always conceived as a singular space, the concept city is a more open, more inter-connected and more complex system. Additionally, the city, being a public space, is more accessible than most interiors.

What is the project cycle?
In summer 2015, I will investigate 22 cities in 10 countries along the 26th longitude. The 26th longitude is the longest north-south axis over country in Europe.

Before that, I will visit and photographically record, under comparable conditions, specific public places in every city. The cities as well as the categories of the places visited are listed below.

The photographs of every place will be taken as 360° panoramic views with the first picture always being orientated north. The pictures of comparable places in different cities will be taken at the same sun position in order to minimise the differences of the respective lighting situation.

Nevertheless, the focus is not on the colorimetric comparability of the results, which would involve a considerable amount of extra effort in terms of time and material, but on the comparability within the test series.

The pictures of the places are analysed by software that reads frequencies of occurrence of colour values. The resulting colour palettes are linked to and variably associated with the places, depending on the queries.

Which kind of technology is utilised
The pictures will be taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 with RAW Format to avoid losses in white balance and colour calibration when editing the photos.

The calibration of the photos is carried out by X-Rite Colour Checker Passport with the respective calibration software. During the trip, a Lenovo S8 Android-Tablet with Photo Mate R2 software will check the photographs.

After the trip, the pictures will be processed by Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Photoshop and read by software especially written for this purpose.

Colour values will be processed graphically in proportion to each other, after the respective query, using Adobe Illustrator.

For checking purposes individual colour values will be recorded by a
mobile, X-Rite Capsure colorimeter.

The Android-App ‚Sonnenverlauf‘ by Torsten Hoffmann will be used for sun position checks on the spot.

Image location management and navigation will be provided by Garmin GPSMap60 and the Android App Locus Pro with OSM-maps.

Garmin Mapsource, Google Earth and Google Maps will be used to plan routing and destinations in advance.

How will the findings be published?
After completion of the project, the findings will be published in form of a book in spring 2016.

The trip will be continually documented from the outset on the website


How will the findings be used and classified?
The investigation is open-ended in regards to its final outcome.
The first step does not consist of any attempts to prove or refute theses on colour and identity of a place. As simple as this may sound, it is up to the interpretation of the individual viewer to respond to questions of design or to define perception psychological criteria.

Only the research method shall be valued in order to improve it for future projects.

And after that?
The project “Lokalkolorit“ is to be the start for a permanent discussion on the links between space and colour identity.

Since the field is so exhaustive, I hope that in the future I will be able to work with experts from neighbouring disciplines such as sociology, geography, colour producers, communication theory and marketing.

“Lokalkolorit“ will provide a basis for such an exchange.


Places that will be included in this research:

–    City gates:

- Station square
– Suburban arterial road(s), Start of construction works

–    The place where Google Earth sets a ‚pin‘ if the name of a city is entered without further address.

–    A suburban spot, suburban in the sense of the Google Algorithms.
–    The centre (full length) of the pedestrian zone.
–    The most densely populated area of a city.
–    The least densely populated area of a city.
–    The city‘s oldest and still used building.
–    The city‘s newest and already lived-in residential area.
–    Image-enhancing architectural icons/sites.
–    The places where the smallest/biggest GDP is generated

Online survey:
With your help, I would like to get to know the places in your city that are suited to become part of the research project  ‘Lokalkolorit’.

My questions relate above all to your personal view. Any support is truly appreciated.


I‘d like to thank for the help in preparation of this project:

Frank Baumann, Goetheinstitut Minsk
Prof. Dr. Christoph Häberle, HdM Stuttgart
Martina Pipprich, Fotografie Mainz
Prof. Holger Reckter, HS-Mainz
Dipl.-Designer Petra Ruhnau, Caparol FarbDesignStudio
Prof. Markus Schlegel, HAWK Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen
FarbDesignStudio Caparol, Ober-Ramstadt