Psychology of Color

A fascinating CFP for a conference on “Color, Commerce, and Consumption in Global Historical Perspective” went up a while back. The due date has passed, so that is old news. But I finally got around to looking over this 2007 Chemical Heritage Foundation piece by the conference’s convener — on the history of DuPont’s work with car colors. I expected it to be all about chemical dye production, so I was surprised and fascinated by this:

In January 1925 two DuPont managers discussed the company’s need for practical advice on the psychology of colors as a means to anticipate major color fads. DuPont took a chromatic leap in October 1925 when it hired Towle and created the Duco Color Advisory Service to design the latest and most desirable color combinations for the auto industry. Born in Brooklyn, Towle had studied painting at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League. During World War I he put his art training to good use as a member of the U.S. Army’s celebrated Camouflage Corps. Afterward he adapted to the burgeoning world of advertising, working sequentially as art director for three New York agencies: H. K. McCann, Frank Seaman, and Campbell-Ewald. At Seaman he also served as the executive in charge of the DuPont account and as copy executive for Cadillac, Oldsmobile, La Salle, and Pontiac—all GM divisions.

The entire article is worth a read if you’re interested in role of corporate scientists at the intersection of advertising, manufacturing, and business statistics.

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