Always the Right Color

Through tightly controlled production, an array of color tools, and all-encompassing support to architects and designers, Sherwin-Williams takes color precision to new heights.

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Sherwin-Williams tools for architects and designers include ColorSnap Match, a handheld device and app that can read colors from physical surfaces and provide the matching Sherwin-Williams spec.

In the last decade, new research has revolutionized our understanding of the role of color in design. Scientists continue to find links between color and our emotional responses, visual attention, stress, and comfort. Meanwhile design clients—whether they be large corporations, healthcare providers, hoteliers, or tech start-ups—want exactly the right colors to build their brand identity and expression. As a manufacturer of paints and coatings, Sherwin-Williams is keenly aware of the pressure this puts on architects and designers. “Color consistency is very important, because that’s what the client sees when they first walk into that new building,” says Rick Watson, the company’s director of product information and technical services. “That can make or break a project.”

Sherwin-Williams has developed a series of processes and tools to address this challenge, beginning with the selection of colors. “We pan through a huge library to see which palettes work best and do multiple digital renderings,” says Jennifer Brzozowski, a designer in HOK’s Los Angeles office. “Sherwin-Williams is one of the first to have the Autodesk material library style, which makes everything simpler. We don’t have to worry about how it’s going to look in a rendering [compared to the finished project]. All the specs are already set with the color, so all you have to do is drag and drop.”

ColorSnap Match In Use

The selection process is also supported by Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap, an integrated system which includes digital and in-store tools like visualizers, fan decks, and a special gadget that can identify the precise hues from physical objects and digital images to make color selection and specification fast and accurate. The handheld, Bluetooth-enabled ColorSnap Match device reads solid, opaque surfaces by scanning them and providing a precise match with the Sherwin-Williams color system. What is more, the Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer mobile app is integrated with Pinterest and has Match a Photo capabilities. Brzozowski says: “You can grab multiple palettes off of one image and get that feel for a space very quickly.”

“We are constantly educating the trade about our resources, which include our physical and digital color tools,” says Donna D’Alterio, a Sherwin-Williams designer marketing manager who works collaboratively with A&D professionals to meet all paint and color goals on projects. “Color consistency is a lot like cooking, where repeatability is crucial. We achieve this through a controlled system that dictates paint compositions, tints, formulae, and supply chains.” Every batch of Sherwin-Williams paint goes through a certificate of analysis program, ensuring incredible color precision across large projects. It even makes it possible to match colors years later for maintenance and touch-ups.

Color precision is vital to the success of projects like Expedia’s Vancouver office, which was designed by Gensler and features Sherwin-Williams paints and coatings.

“The manuals and specifications that we offer as support for architects and designers are also left with the project owner,” D’Alterio says. “That’s the schematic of the entire job, including the area, the color, the finish, and the product.” So when the client, owner, or facility manager is looking to re-coat the trim or touch up high-traffic areas, they can take that spec to the nearest Sherwin- Williams location. “That’s the icing on the cake, the project manuals that Sherwin-Williams provides to make sure that specs last even after an architect or designer has completed their work.”

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