A series of tests conducted in Italy between the 1970s and 1990s is examined to establish how writing has affected the world of production in promoting both a new culture of colour and new tools capable of intervening on non-material parameters that define the quality of public and private environments. The texts are drawn from specialist and popular magazines, manuals, and company publications, but also from popular-interest periodicals. The connections between them are of particular interest because they demonstrate how writing about colour has contributed to pushing the boundaries of a design culture that was still anchored to purely compositional principles. In design, the texts represent a mediating factor between professional practice and theoretical development. The first traces of these ideas are found in the work of Ettore Sottsass at the end of the 1950s. They become fully revealed starting in the following decade in publications related to the area of “primary design”, which was first developed by the Montefibre Design Centre and then in reflections on colour documented in interviews with Clino Trini Castelli. Finally, the interesting codification of these themes first developed at the beginning of the 1990s in the small volume Ettore Sottsass. Note sul colore consolidates a formula for multidisciplinary writing on the approach to colour.
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