Peeling the chalky paper from Crayola crayons to reveal the bright, clean wax beneath is a treasured childhood memory and marked the beginning of my obsession with colour. A career in colouring-in was clearly on the cards. Rather than counting sheep, I would run through the colours of the alphabet to reach the land of nod. Around my late 20s I discovered I am a synaesthete – I see numbers and letters in colour.
Synaesthesia is a delightful gift. It has no apparent benefit, other than perhaps my PIN number memory recall is reinforced by being in glorious technicolour.
An inspiring visual and mathematical joy is the nine times table. Not only do all the answers add up to nine, but there is a lovely diagonal symmetry of numerals which, when in colour, of course becomes a thing of beauty.
David Hockney, Wassily Kandinsky and Rosa Missoni are/ were synaesthetes, each clearly with quite different palettes, styles and materials. But has some of this diversity been lost in the age of accelerating technology? I personally find that colour on the computer screen does not satiate, it has no texture and therefore no depth. The colour appears bright and saturated with no complexity or degree of subtlety. However, the big screen offers more. I recently saw Last Tango in Paris where Marlon Brando and the occasional ‘objet’ had been subtly Tango’d in hues of orange and tan.
Thanks to my synaesthesia, each and everyday I am affected by the sensory feast that is colour, and my ability to translate it into a creative product is a daily joy.
Kate Shaw, Ziggurat Brands