A recent design project by Pentagram for the Achievement First Endeavor Middle School in Brooklyn caught my attention.
Paula Scher calls the Achievement First project “an opportunity to correct the beige mistake of my childhood,” as she “always thought that schools, libraries, medical clinics, and other public institutions I inhabited were mean.” Why did this dull and oppressive color scheme come to be the norm? “There is nothing more safe and boring than beige,” she says, but that’s precisely why she decided to go in the opposite direction for the project.
I remember my middle school in Virginia had bland beige walls, and I was more than happy to switch schools when we had to move to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for my parents’ jobs. The school in Kuala Lumpur was the polar opposite of the one on Virginia: open hallways and walkways geared toward the tropic climate, tiled rooftops, plants and trees landscaped into areas of the school, and while it wasn’t brightly colored, the architecture made our environment an active one. That experience definitely impacted my desire and ability to learn and excel.