Colorful reflections

By Ingrid Fetell Lee


Here’s something subtle, yet charming, in honor of today’s snowy day. Artist Toshihiko Shibuya adds color to snow through reflection. By painting metal disks and plates with bright colors, he creates a vibrant palette in the snow. I love the magic of this, letting the elements (in this case, snow) reveal a hidden hue. It’s very Japanese, to work with the landscape, to patiently tease out color from the interactions between forces rather than painting it thick across the top.

Snowpallet toshihiko01

Snowpallet toshihiko02

Snowpallet toshihiko04


I was enchanted by the same color reflections when doing space analysis in design school. I used to spend untold hours hanging colored planes in boxes made of foam core so that the light would tinge just so. Based on this fascination, I designed one of the pieces for my thesis using the same idea. I don’t often share my work on this site, but this seems relevant. I designed the stools below to almost disappear when looked at head on. Then when stacked, they reveal their hidden color.

The intent of my thesis was to illustrate different essential ideas of Aesthetics of Joy in simple furniture forms. I designed 10 pieces. If you like these, maybe I’ll post more… I miss furniture design. I love creating utilitarian things that brighten up everyday life. One day, when I finish this book, I’ll get back to it. (And hopefully that will be sooner, rather than later!)

Surprise white

Surprise stack

Images: Toshihiko Shibuya’s work courtesy of Designboom; mine are my own

February 9th, 2013


Lost your spark?

The Joy Jumpstart is a 7-day, self-guided program to help you break out of a rut and reconnect with what makes you feel truly alive.

    Discussion (12 Comments)

  1. Christine Adams on February 10, 2013

    I was utterly charmed by this post!

    1. Ingrid on February 10, 2013

      Thank you, Christine!

  2. Nick Scott on February 10, 2013

    Post more! Love the “secret” colours.
    Interesting that it would be hard to see the colours in the snow unless you happened to be flying overhead. Secret aesthetic joy.

    1. Ingrid on February 10, 2013

      Thanks for the encouragement, Nick. More of my work soon, I promise!

  3. Linda on February 10, 2013

    How subtle and how beautiful

    Please do post more of your designs.


    1. Ingrid on February 10, 2013

      Thank you, Linda! Appreciate your support – I’ll post more of my own work soon!

  4. Brandon on February 11, 2013

    Those stools are excellent.

    1. Ingrid on February 12, 2013

      Thank you, Brandon!

  5. Lisa Jo on February 12, 2013

    Just love the subtlety of the colors in the snow – some of the most beautiful colors I’ve seen for a while. And I can so see why it inspired you to design those stools (which are fab) as it’s inspiring me to paint a new series.
    Smile Because
    Lisa Jo

    1. Ingrid on February 12, 2013

      Thanks, Lisa Jo. I agree with you – there’s something lovely about diffuse colors like that. Color doesn’t always have to be intense to be wonderful!

  6. Liesbeth on March 24, 2013

    Wauw, beautiful subtle artwork and wauw, beautiful and subtle design stools.
    I love color and especially when it is used like this.

    1. Ingrid on March 24, 2013

      Thanks, Liesbeth!


Leave a Comment

What's killing your joy? Take this 3-minute quiz to find out.
Free Resource

Find more joy every day

Our free workbook has 5 simple strategies that will make life better right now.

You'll also receive periodic updates on new things from The Aesthetics of Joy. We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.