A Colorful Surprise

Jordan Morrow Knox


Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you were colorblind? I have, and in every instance I’ve imagined myself missing out on one of the biggest pleasures I have in life–creating with color. It’s my passion, it’s my career, it’s integrated in almost every part of my life. It wasn’t until my, now husband, made me come to realize what I thought would be an almost impossible feat is indeed possible. Stewart Knox is a color blind designer. Most people’s first response is usually, 

“You’re a color blind designer, WHAT?!?”  I have to admit, that’s exactly what I thought, too!

In first grade, after coloring a picture of his mother, Stewart  took the drawing to his teacher to explain he had made a  mistake. He told her that the earrings on his mom’s portrait were crooked. The teacher realized that Stewart didn’t recognize that he had colored his mother’s face bright green. Shortly after that, Stewart was diagnosed as being colorblind.

Over time Stewart has developed his own methods for figuring out color. Reading crayon wrappers, associating colors with real-life objects, and even using eye droppers to measure precise colors all have helped him identify the colors that he sees.   It’s what worked for him, and how he got through one of the top industrial design schools in the country. 

A little background:  Stewart and I are both designers.  He’s an industrial designer, therefore working with structure, concepts, functionality and user experience.  I’m a graphic designer, utilizing visual concepts to inspire, inform and captivate consumers. We work at the same company, and recently got married.  ExpoDisplays is a part of how our story began.  So when the idea arose to purchase Enchroma glasses for Stewart, I thought it would be fun (and extra special) to involve our co-workers and friends. We all have been witness to Stewart’s  color deficiency, and they were excited to be a part of it! I set the date for the fundraising goal to be met 3 months out and within 10 days we had collected all the money we needed to order his glasses. “Overwhelmed” would be an understatement.

Seeing as the majority of the funds were raised from coworkers and family, we decided to have the big reveal at ExpoDisplays. Family, friends and employees were all present to witness the big moment.  

When Stewart came to his surprise party, the look on his face was that of mild terror. It was priceless. He opened the box containing his gift, and the emotions that followed can be seen in the video. Excitement, anticipation and nervousness were written all over his face. We walked outside to see if he indeed could see the colors of this beautiful world, and that’s the moment I could see, that his had life changed. It’s not only that he was going to be able to see colors never before witnessed, but he was getting to experience colors for the first time in his 36 years of life.

He explained that it was a little overwhelming when he first put the glasses on. When we asked what he saw, he had to take a second for his eyes to adjust and to gather his thoughts. He explains it as all the colors he once saw were now saturated so deeply that he was able to make out new colors he had never seen before. How do you explain the way you see color without trying to reference colors? Just try it. It’s hard!

The biggest thing he notices when he wears his glasses? Grass, bushes and trees. “That’s green! That’s really green!” It has been almost 4 months since he got the Enchroma glasses, and  it is still the variations among a cluster of foliage that he constantly mentions.

It is easy to take color for granted; after all, it is how we see the world every day. To someone who has never been able to see color correctly it’s the subtle variations in skintone, the ability to distinguish dead grass from a yard and the vividness of ordinary street signs that are remarkable to him. Stewart is now able to see the world as it really is and has been given a new, colorful perspective to life.

See the video of Stewart’s surprise here!