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  • Words by Kristy Calabro

Get Your Cray-On in the Concrete Jungle

The “Big Apple,” “Gotham,” the “City That Never Sleeps,” and now the “City of Color”? When you first think of the colors of New York, you might envision many neutral tones like the grey steel buildings that make up our skyline, the beige Brooklyn Bridge, the white subway tiles or that quintessential, little, black dress that's a staple of many wardrobes. New York may not conjure up the brightest of colors at first, but it's the perfect foundation and it best complements the cornucopia of colors that are all around us.

Photo courtesy of @bigntoasty

Inspired by the colors of the city is the Color Factory: a magical, multi-hued playground that has popped up at 251 Spring Street. From San Francisco to Soho, it's a kaleidoscopic world of pure imagination come to life. Each room has been painstakingly curated with so much heart and great attention to detail that will invigorate all five of your senses!

One of the first striking sights in the lobby of the Factory is French artist and architect, Emmanuelle Moureaux's "100 Colors," featuring rows of light, flowing paper strips inspired by traditional Japanese sliding screens. She hopes to evoke emotions through her art and was inspired by the overabundance of colors found in Tokyo. Emmanuelle also feels that her work gives people an opportunity to become more conscious of the colors that exist around them.

@emmanuellemoureaux "100 Colors" @bigntoasty by @golightly

At the Factory, you are given a neighborhood map that has color enthusiasts on a wild, chromatic chase around Manhattan. There is a public mural associated with the pop-up located on Charlton St. in Hudson Square. “Circle Game,” has sections with oversized polka dots accompanied by exercises that will “get you aligned and prepared to take on the day.” The exploration of this interactive wall was led by my color-loving guide, @bigntoasty. She is a wanderluster and “a gal about town with an iPhone and rose-colored lenses.”

Every day @bigntoasty posts a photo in the morning that sets her intention and sets the mood for her followers and for her as well. Sometimes there is an occasion to celebrate, but there’s no method to her madness in posting photos. It's however she is feeling that day. She started using Instagram to share her discoveries with friends far away. #Hashtags helped her connect with a community of like-minded friends whom many she would eventually meet. Bigntoasty said, “I simply love the unexpected connections made here - online and in real life!...I thought I was the rainbow sheep who would stray when I saw something colorful. Little did I know there is a whole herd of us out here!”

Intentional or not, @bigntoasty's Instagram page is beautifully curated. She tells a visual story and communicates through color. It could be balloons, confetti, umbrellas, or street art, if it’s colorful or color-filled, you’re almost guaranteed to be featured on her page. Her pun-tastic words of encouragement go together with her must-see photos that are candy for our eyes and warm hugs for our souls. She brings you an instant shot of joy to start your day.

@bigntoasty Photo by @kristycnyc

Balloon courtesy of @balloonsaloon

Asphalt, 57th St., @wonmcintosh, Color Factory, 2018 Photo by @kristycnyc

A favorite of @bigntoasty it resonated with her about her relationship with NYC.

Also associated with the Color Factory is the Manhattan Color Walk, a pathway in the garden at Cooper Hewitt. It pays homage to all the colors that make the borough unique. Each of the 265 colors along the striped walkway corresponds to different sights that the Color Factory creative team encountered while exploring the city streets from West 220th St. all the way down to Battery Park. (Note: at this time, the Color Walk is no longer in the garden at Cooper Hewitt.) Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color now until January 2019 explores how color is perceived and experimented with from artists to scientists.

Manhattan Color Walk guide, from: (

Cooper Hewitt, 2018

"One of the many things I loved about the Manhattan Color Walk

is that it acknowledges that every street is colorful!" - @bigntoasty

Manhattan Color Walk, Cooper Hewitt Photo by: @kristycnyc

"If I had to commit to one area (of Manhattan), I would definitely say Soho. There are unexpected pops of color and hidden gems everywhere. The charm is undeniably enchanting!" - @bigntoasty

How Hues Heal / Joys of Color

It was Sir Isaac Newton who developed the first color wheel taking his theories from nature and music. He thought there should be harmony to the order of the colors of the rainbow and thought of them as musical notes. By combining the rainbow in a circle, he could see the contrast of colors and came to a realization about yellow, blue and red. When these primaries combined with each other or another color, you find all the different colors that are in the spectrum. (Fun fact: If you spin a color wheel, the colors blur together so fast that all the human eye will see is white.)

(Color Wheel at Cooper Hewitt "Saturated: the Allure and Science of Color" and Rainbow at Flour Shop 177 Lafayette Street, NYC photos by @kristycnyc

Colors and specific shapes have been proven to change our moods, help people heal, and affect how we perceive the world. Adding color to a school helped attendance jump and made kids feel safer, in a work environment it made people friendlier and more confident. And when you reinvigorate a hospital or nursing home, you help patients feel comfortable and at ease and they tend to have more positive emotions.

In the book, "Joyful," author Ingrid Fetell Lee says that the aesthetics of Joy speaks to our unconscious minds bringing out the best in us. The more intense the color, the more intense the feeling of joy; it’s nearly impossible to separate the two. Color inspires great journeys. From vacationing to visit pink sand beaches to hiking Red Rock Canyon to the "Leaf Peepers" of New England seeking the Autumn foliage, people will travel for color. It shows that our landscapes and surroundings are alive and it makes us feel more alive to make these discoveries.

The same goes for street art, many dedicated art fans will travel to seek out the latest murals. Or some of us in NY will have a street art "staycation" and explore Manhattan and the other boroughs. No matter the destination, it all brings about a joy that we document and share so that we can keep those feelings going.

Spectrum of NYC Street Art

"Circling" back to the Color Factory, another favorite for @bigntoasty was the Balloon Wish room that celebrated the colors at sundown over the Hudson or at sunrise reflecting off a skyscraper. Each wish was from a student from 826NYC. Bigntoasty's Balloon Wish would be "...that each and every single person could see the unyielding beauty in themselves and others. Even just for a moment. Every human has his/her beauty. We are all more alike than we care to admit. I would give my lifetime for each person's moment."

From street art found in New York to the Holi Festival in India, and everywhere in between, color brings about universally held feelings that cross all languages, all borders and beliefs. When we find these discoveries that bring about so many positive emotions, we share them through our pictures, those little moments of joy that celebrate living "in the moment." Color is energy, color is life; you just have to put on your rose-colored glasses and look around because color is all around us.

"...rainbows are all around us!!! It's amazing what we see when we wander with open eyes,

open minds and open hearts." - @bigntoasty


For more information:




Joyful Book

TED Talk: Where joy hides and how to find it. By: Ingrid Fetell Lee


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