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True Colors

The upcoming professional workshop at the Liebling House will focus on paint and color in international style buildings. We asked architect Marlu Müller-Ortloff to tell us about the workshop, her personal relationship with color, and the obvious connection between color and architecture




What do you do? “I have three professions: restoration of paint on facades of historic cultural buildings, specifically theaters; architecture; and analyzing the physics of buildings specializing in moisture damage, thermal energy, and mudbrick construction. At first, paint and architecture didn’t work well together, but once I started studying science and physics, I was able to bring these two fields together by using materials in a sustainable way.” What are you planning to focus on during the upcoming workshop? “We will be focusing on how to plan the use of paint and color, understanding how to use colors in the context of what we want to achieve. We will spend some time deciding whether to emulate the originals, develop a new concept, or give it a modern interpretation. Another element of the workshop will be studying the materials - it’s impossible to plan the use of paints without touching them, feeling them, using them, seeing them on the scale of a room. Color is a medium for creating space, and the transition between the different elements of learning is the foundation for understanding. It's like a ping-pong of ideas.” What is special about the colors used in international style buildings? “The way they planned a building while thinking about the function and the color is different from any other period in history. Color is not just an ornament, it’s a medium of expression - both personal and one that offers insights into the building. When you find a way to express the elements of the building through the use of color, it becomes a pure expression of space, an integral layer of the structure.” Was there a difference between the colors used in modernist construction in Germany, and those used in construction in Israel or anywhere else in the world? “The Bauhaus leaders were always discussing ideas and each project changed depending on the people involved. This means that you can’t find a single uniform Bauhaus style, even in Germany: there is a difference between Weimar's Bauhaus (which was experimental), Dessau (which focused on production), and Berlin (the crystalline of modernism and the beginning of referencing color as light). The basis of all these was the use of forms, thinking about the function; you can see how the different approaches were expressed when people from different schools worked together and influenced one another.” How did you get involved in painting? “My father was an abstract painter, so for me, paint and color were basic things. After completing my A-levels, I trained in theater paint and color restoration and learned a lot about paint as material during my internship. This has given me tools that have always stayed with me, including the understanding of which characteristics and qualities will best serve the purpose I want to achieve.” Is there a difference between exterior colorsand interior colors? “On external walls, there are other contexts originating from the city and the landscape. There are important variables to consider, such as light or reflections. The difference lies in the concept of architectural design as a complete system - from the smallest to the largest element. This architectural approach allows you to develop several themes and choose between them.” Which color chart do you work with? “While working on various projects I created my own color chart, which consists of more than 700 colors. It’s more extensive than the basic NCS chart (the Natural Color System is a universal color chart that mediates between planners and color manufacturers, and allows the former to obtain an exact color from any manufacturer. In Israel we use RAL - a different chart based on a similar system). I refer to colors as reflective materials and that is something that has roots in the Bauhaus: the definition of gray as a collection of contrasting colors.” What is important to consider when choosing both the type of paint and the color of one’s home? “How colorcan help in creating space and light.” What is your favorite color? “If I had a favorite color I wouldn’t be able to design concepts for rooms... There are still so many materials to be discovered in the world. But there is always something that can be defined as Zeitgeist: it cannot be explained, but one must pay attention to it and decide whether to adopt it or refrain from it.” Tell us about your typical workday “I have three separate businesses. I work as an architect and expert on moisture damage, responsible for planning and supervising the renovations. My husband, Gregor Sauer, is a product and exhibition designer. We have another business with my partner, Andrea Heller. This company specializes in three areas: woodwork (managed by Gregor), paint production shop (which I manage), and signage design and production with Andrea. The three of us sell products, develop new materials, and sometimes plan and build exhibitions. “My day usually begins at 7:25, when Andrea arrives. The two of us can paint up to a 1,000-square-meters per week. It’s very difficult to find people who were trained in the traditional painting techniques that existed until the 1950s. We demonstrate or paint ourselves so that people can learn and understand how color affects a room and how to properly plan the process of painting. We have an espresso with Gregor and then Andrea and I head out to the construction site. Sometimes the three of us would work together on projects, often ones in which we experiment with new materials. I return home at 17:00, we all have another espresso and then the second part of the day begins: I focus on colors and paint, advise, plan concepts, and create combinations, while Gregor works on experimental projects in the workshop. After a family dinner with our son Raphael, I begin the third part of my day: I work as an architect - drawing plans, organizing. I separate the painting from the architecture, but it’s not easy changing a profession in the middle of the day; I have to change clothes quickly, and make sure I don’t have color stains when I arrive at meetings.” Much More Than White - a workshop on paint and colors in international style buildings March 15-16, 2018

054-3454145 | golan_sh@mail.tel-aviv.gov.il