“2001: A Space Odyssey” Reduced To Its Color Palette

Nigel Dennis reimagines everything from Spike Jonze’s Her to Radiohead to iOS 7 as color palettes.

A color palette defines everything you do: eating granola, watching Mad Men, and flipping through album covers and sliding out a record. The designer Nigel Dennis, clearly a considering guy, decided to trade on his ordinary experiences and use them to define a project he calls “The Day’s Color.” He distills a random experience from each day of his life into a simple collection of seven hues. Each day, he uploads these palettes to a website. In short, it’s a celebration of color.


Conceptually, it’s much more. What emerges in the project is a new, and surprising, take on experience. You can’t help think twice, and reconsider, those experiences as Dennis breaks them down–into pure, organized color profiles.

“I really wanted to get down to the true influence that my surroundings have on me, by focusing on the colors and hues of my everyday experiences,” Dennis tells Co.Design. “It’s a challenge making sure I capture what I feel is the essence of each subject through color.”

Beck’s “Sea Change”

By separating objects and activities from their most basic visual ingredients, Dennis offers a minimalist interpretation of often maximalist works of art, music, and cinema. When color-profiling music, Dennis boils down the color schemes of his favorite album covers: Radiohead’s Kid A, Peter Gabriel’s So, The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. Films, including Her, The Master, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, get a similar treatment.

Some of these color schemes are immediately recognizable, such as the whites and blues of iOS 7. Others are more subtle–the muted family of beiges and grays inspired by the haunting credits of HBO’s True Detective; the blues, greens, and browns distilled from the landscape of Lake Michigan; a scheme inspired simply by “dinner.” As a whole, the project is a meditative study in how color can determine the mood or flavor of an experience in ways we might not anticipate.

The palettes themselves are reminiscent of legendary color theorist Josef Albers’s experiments in The Interaction of Color.

“I will keep on until I’m tired of it,” Dennis says. He plans to update the site soon with monthly books and prints for sale.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.