Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Mar 5th, 2013

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Colorplan swatch book
The cover of the Colorplan swatch book represents the three signature aspects of the range: colour, weight and embossing. The circles are inlayed into the cover using the technique of ‘paper marquetry’. Inside documents the journey through the range, told in a way that allows the user to enjoy each individual colour.

The experience is designed to be more akin to a book, rather than a traditional gridded selector. Embossing textures are shown in both black and white allowing the user to clearly understand how the paper will hold a texture.

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Colorplan business card
The business cards employ the same idea as the swatch cover. Our technique of paper marquetry is used to inlay the three colours (the only thing printed is the black for the logo).

A digital platform has been developed to encourage the user to explore and play with the full palette and versatility of the range; delivering an experience beyond the physical limitations of the swatch book. Primarily designed as a tool to appreciate the papers qualities, colours can be moved freely, juxtaposed, compared, and colour combinations recommended.The Colorplan Swatch Library can also be downloaded onto your computer to allow the palette of 50 colours to be used instantly (and without need for mixing your own matches).

The site will continue to be developed and expanded with further functions added in the coming months (for example, downloadable embossing textures for visuals; global map showing availability, sample requests; etc).

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Made Thought × Colorplan — SI Special

Colorplan typeface
For the launch of the website, a bespoke typeface called ‘Colorplan’ has been developed. The font delivers an elegant, crafted and idiosyncratic character with a light and delicate impression. Characters of particular interest include the lowercase ‘g’, uppercase ‘M’, and the numerical character set.

About the Project

Colorplan is an iconic range of premium uncoated coloured papers and boards which is available in a broad palette of 50 colours, 8 weights and 25 embossed textures. First developed in 1972, this select and versatile range of papers is widely considered to be indispensable within the design industry.

The Colorplan brand reflects the same effortless simplicity, confidence and beauty of the product itself, concentrating on the expressive qualities inherent in the paper, rather than focusing on its technical attributes. This viewpoint directly engages and inspires the design audience who specify the product.

The Colorplan brandmark is based on the simple concept of representing a physical sheet of paper – a turned up corner, traditionally used to mark a page for reference. When applied, the brandmark reveals another layer.


I’d like to take a minute to thank Ben for putting together all the imagery, text and video for this feature. And of course, a hat tip goes to the Made Thought crew for consistently producing beautifully crafted, thoughtful design.
Follow @made_thought on Twitter

Design & Production

Design of Brand Identity, swatch book and Website: Made Thought
Typeface: Made Thought & Colophon Foundry
Web Programming: ICO
Colour Book Print: PUSH

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  1. Dan J.

    These look visually great and very trendy! My only issue with these swatch books is that there is no printing on the Colourplan, as I designer I want to see how a piece of paper prints as that is what I am going to be using it for, we still use the old Colourplan guides at my studio.

  2. Looks like a beautiful piece of contemporary design. However I do feel it’s a little indulgent compared to the utility of a compact swatch booklet. I have what I think is the previous design and it functions very well. The smaller sample sizes here I suspect will make it harder to judge which is the most appropriate choice.

    The digital tool is a fantastic.

  3. Simon

    I agree with Richard , although a nice standalone piece it’s slightly indulgent and not particularly functional. What’s the justification for it being more like a book by the way? Something of a student project vibe about that choice. The wide spacing on the lowercase type is also quite unpleasant.

    Look forward to getting my hands on one for a closer look though and the digital site does seem to come into it’s own.

  4. Mike

    Firstly the design is great visually but it is fundamentally flawed in a big way.

    I don’t know if the designer or designers of this have ever heard of colour theory? i’d advise them to pick up a copy of Josef Albers Interaction of Colour.

    The colours in the swatches are not a true representation of their actual colour as they are all sat on top of another colour, in this case grey, which changes our perception completely.

    How can we choose a colour that we can’t properly see?

    Case and point see here:

    both of the smaller coloured orange squares are the same colour its just that the interaction of the colours around them completely changes our perception.

    The same thing happens with these swatches.

  5. Joel

    Lovely typeface, especially the ‘a’.

    I’m thinking that although it may not be as ‘usable’ as previous iterations, this work does an amazing job at reinforcing Colourplan as the go-to range for coloured stock.

    I’d imagine that most designers, once suitably tantalised, would order sample sheets around a colour scheme before selecting for a job.

  6. All form and no function I’m afraid.
    And Mike’s correct about colour perception.

  7. elisa

    Note: the colorplan typeface was developed by colophon foundry.

  8. Duncan

    Sorry to disagree with you all esp. Mike, the colour perception here doesn’t happen at all, you’ve tried to create a problem where there isn’t one, case and point, the URL you’ve posted doesn’t correspond with your point at all, in fact it’s totally the opposite as the colours in the colour plan book do not touch or sit along side a contrasting colour. I enjoyed the playful fresh look of a somewhat rigid and controlled institution of swatches. BRAVO to made thought, on making us feel a little less like ROBOTS, and more like humans.

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