How colour has changed the way we view the world

Over 65,000 Copies Sold! A Window into the Contemporary World of Images and How Our Perception of It Came to Be.

Why are pencils usually yellow? Easy answer: they sell better. OK, but why is it so? Why did Flaubert dress Emma Bovary in blue? How come there isn’t any green in Mondrian’s paintings, and why did Hitchcock, on the other hand, use it so generously?
Quite frankly, you’ve probably never wondered about any of this. And that’s precisely the point.

Riccardo Falcinelli, one of Italy’s most famous art directors and visual designers, poses questions and suggests answers that change the way we look at things. Societies are systems of symbols, and – we find out – colour plays a central role in them. So central that so much about it has been taken for granted.

In our world of images, colour provides information. It seduces us, as in advertising. It tells stories, as in films. It sets hierarchies, as in the weather forecast. It organises, as in graphs and charts. It enhances beauty, as in cosmetics. It helps us tell things apart, as in food. It opposes, as in road signs. It gives us pleasure, or it doesn’t. Some of this is natural; most is conventional.
Falcinelli takes it one step further. Technology and mass media, he argues, have altered our perception. Viewed on a smartphone, a fresco appears as bright as a digital photograph. The intense and vibrant hues on the screen have become the standard against which we judge the purity of all other manifestations of colour. Anyone who has seen colour on a TV screen can no longer look at the world with the eyes of the past. Even as we stand by a Renaissance painting, it’s the Simpsons’ yellow the yellow we have in mind.

Story after story, and with the support of 400 illustrations, CROMORAMA shows how colour has become the filter we use to process reality. And how this filter is getting increasingly standardised.


»Following intricate paths, reading exciting stories, identifying deeply-rooted biases: this is the charm of CROMORAMA, the neologism that gives the title to a book that strives to explain colour perception in every possible field, submitting our gaze to a radical critique.«

»As entertaining as listening to a conversation. Quite a genius book.«
la Repubblica

Original Language

Italian, Einaudi Stile Libero

Further Editions

Taurus (Spanish)
Navona (Catalan)

Available Material

Italian original
English sample


on behalf of Pietrosanti Agenzia
Dutch, German

Riccardo Falcinelli

Riccardo Falcinelli was born in 1973 in Rome, where he lives. He is one of the most acclaimed visual designers in the Italian graphics and editorial scene, which he contributed to innovate by designing book series and covers for several publishers. After graduating in Italian Literature at La Sapienza University in Rome with a thesis on the ‘visual novel’, he spent some time in London to attend the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. He currently teaches Psychology of Perception at the ISIA Design Faculty in Rome. Previous publications include graphic novels and essays, amongst which are Guardare. Pensare. Progettare. Neuroscienze per il design (Stampa Alternativa, 2011) and A Portable Critique to Visual Design (Einaudi, 2014).