Colours of Asia

September 2015

Award-winning project Colours of Asia was a collaborative cultural research project that culminated in an exhibition, student workshops, a forum, a seminar, a collection of research papers and a book.

This nine-month journey across the colour landscape of Asia was as remarkable as the collection of images and artefacts in the exhibition and book. Difficult choices had to be made for the final shortlist as there was an ever-increasing flow of colour stories and insights from the participating 13 countries/regions of Asia.

Every touch-point of the project was designed to showcase and explain facets of colour context on the backdrop of Asia.


The Exhibition showcased Asian culture through five dominant colours and their diverse manifestations across geography, history, object, belief and contemporary expressions. Sections of this exhibition traversed the rich cultural past to an equally relevant and exciting present day.

Over 26,000 guests including designers, design enthusiasts, and students visited the exhibition featuring more than 600 objects and images that were on display at the D-Mart Gallery at Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) from 3 November 2012 to 22 February 2013.

Student Workshops

Two highly engaging workshops were conducted for HKDI students to help bring relevance of colours into contemporary settings.  More than 150 students participated in these workshops.

Forum & Seminar

Associates and affiliates representing 13 Asian countries/regions involved in the Project shared their experiences around colour research, inspirations and discoveries during the course of Colours of Asia project at HKDI. They were attended by professional designers, academicians, design students and design enthusiasts.

Research Papers & Book

The research papers and book are comprehensive, yet concise compilations of details that were uncovered during the research and will go on to become excellent reference materials for readers keen on understanding the cultural contexts of colour across Asia. In addition to touching on research discoveries, the book also carries special articles from colour experts from Japan, Taiwan and India.


The Colours of Asia exhibition is one of many cultural events organised with the goal of unearthing new identities of Asian culture and emerging points of view through investigations of tradition and interpretations of embedded meanings through imagination and action.

Using colour as the theme to juxtapose cultural and artistic commonalities and differences is at once wildly ambitious and profound. The exhibition strives to address the phenomenon of change in synchronicity with the shifting identities of life and the survival of culture in a floating world.

It is our hope that the images, objects and stories presented in Colours of Asia will inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity that will expand one’s perspective of Asia—to understand and embrace the full spectrum of philosophies, beliefs, traditions and way of life that is uniquely Asian; as well as appreciate our common threads and distinct differences.

The Asian colour archive to be developed by the Hong Kong Design Institute from this project will also form a substantial database for future colour studies. As an archived database, the project will continue to provide valuable insights to design professionals and foster appreciation on the use of colours among the public.

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