Architectural Polychrome: Vintage Interactive Color Guidebook by Le Corbusier


Created by Le Corbusier, one of the most famous architects of the Modern movement, this vintage Polychromie Architecturale: Die Farbenklaviaturen book features interactive pop-up and pull-out pages to illustrate ideal color combinations for architectural and interior designers.


Developed for and published by a Swiss wallpaper company, a rare first edition of the 1931 original volume is being auctioned in New York, its paper sliding elements and color sample storage pockets still functional and intact.


Like much of his work, which treated architecture as “machines for living in,” Le Corbusier saw color as something that could be systematized for the modern era. These, in turn, could effect the health and happiness of building occupants. His polychromatic custom color systems included a “color keyboard” for matching hues and shades across the spectrum.


Also as with his other systematic efforts, Corbu boiled down color selection to key components like mental effects, weight and depth, perception and unity – these parallel the logical and reductive approach of his “five points” for designing architecture. Color combinations were designed to take advantage of the positive potential in mixing and matching.


Lighter and more natural colors could warm rooms while darker shades could camouflage parts of a space. He also designed wallpapers that took his color theories into account, combining them with rational geometries to form modern patterns. Despite the rarity of the volume and fame of its author it is expected to sell for only a few thousand dollars at the Swann Auction Galleries.