Color meets chemistry in ‘The Color Revolution’

DesignPhiladelphia offers an array of events including a presentation by design historian and author, Regina Lee Blaszczyk.

DesignPhiladelphia, a festival that encompasses different aspects of design, is returning to Philadelphia for its eighth year, running Oct. 10 to 14.

The festival is hosting more than 120 events and showcasing different aspects of design, including interior design, fashion, architecture and jewelry, among other forms of art. The designs will be presented in different settings including workshops, studio openings, lectures, discussions and street events.

“Design in Philadelphia is strongly associated with Philadelphia’s story,” said Hilary Jay, founding director of DesignPhiladelphia. “Our intent is to demonstrate, support [and] promote the ability to generate innovation, solve problems and enhance daily life.”

The creation of DesignPhiladelphia has brought many more opportunities to the community, Jay said.

“It has given [the design community] a forum for expressing what they do to people who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to see and experience things like the inside of architectural firms and jewelry making workshops and lectures on museums and the futures of large museums,” Jay said. “People are hungry for experiences and Philadelphia offers that through its programming.”

Among the events occurring during the festival is a discussion with award-winning design historian, Regina Lee Blaszczyk.

Blaszczyk’s presentation, titled “Pan Am Blue and Powder Room Pink: How Chemistry Created Vintage Modern,” presents her outlook on the fashion industry and how the chemical industry has impacted the color revolution.

The basis for this talk is related to her most recent book, “The Color Revolution.” The idea for “The Color Revolution” began with an article published in Fortune Magazine in February of 1930 — just after the stock market crash in 1929, she said.

Blaszczyk has expanded upon what Fortune Magazine had originally stated in the article “Color in Industry” and has made connections with how the use of color in fashion and industry has had an effect on the lives of ordinary people.

The color revolution is the idea of colors becoming more accessible to ordinary people in the respects of color being added to cars, fashion, pots and pans, among other things. Before that point in 1930, color was not accessible to ordinary people, but only accessible to those of higher class.

“A lot of people who study fashion, for example, don’t necessarily look back down the supply chain to acknowledge the fact that the chemical industry is very important in creating new dyes, new paints and new pigments that allow for certain colors or certain qualities to appear in fashion or interior design,” Blaszczyk said.

Blaszczyk’s emphasis on the chemical industry in fashion draws from the idea that the chemical industry is what created new concepts in regards to colors in fashion, as well as everyday life.  Without the expansion of the chemical industry, those advances in the addition of more color would not have been possible.

The “Pan Am Blue and Powder Room Pink: How Chemistry Created Vintage Modern” event is not focusing on just the chemical industry as a whole, but will focus more specifically on the Delaware Valley DuPont company and how three “colorists” there impacted the color revolution.

Blaszczyk will discuss specifically how the DuPont chemical company was run in the 1920s through the 1960s, while also explaining the fashion industry today versus that of the past.

“The fashion industry today is very different than the fashion industry that I study as a historian,” Blaszczyk said. “That was really a very different world than the world that we live in today. Today we live in a very global world where…the fabrics might be made in one country, the sewing might be done in a second country [and] the assembling might be done in a third country, while the designing is done here.”

Blaszczyk will be touching on these ideas and more at her event in conjunction with DesignPhiladelphia at the Chemical Heritage Foundation on Oct. 11 at 6 p.m.

To check out more events happening during DesignPhiladelphia visit

Taylor Farnsworth can be reached at

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