Revealing Urban Colours

Capturing the essence of a city

I started this project while I was working with a New York consulting firm on the power of celebrity. I asked myself whether there was something about, say, Cameron Diaz’s face we could apply to a cellphone or a car that would increase its appeal. I did something similar for the City of Toronto, trying to figure out whether it has a specific colour that could be used by Canadian firms, and it occurred to me that this could be done for all of Canada.

I began by taking scores of photographs and employed computer software to pull out the predominant colours of Ottawa and the provincial and territorial capitals. The exact process that worked in Toronto did not necessarily work elsewhere — there is also an intuitive element to it. For each city, I had to centre on what makes it unique, such as prominent landmarks or distinctive features of its built environment. As a result, regional differences emerge: the North tends to be very bright, the Maritimes aquatic, Ottawa pale.

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