Colour is becoming the next design specialism as the application of colour psychology thrusts the power of colour beyond just the visual, into more of a behavioural and emotional response.
The science of colour is becoming the sought-after skill in every designer's toolbox.
Colour psychology is springing to the forefront of design. Increasingly, designers are realising colour psychology backs up their intuition with logic and the rationale to understand their own and their clients colour choices.
Results can include:
- Increasing well-being in the home and in healthcare environments
- Promoting positive behaviour in the workplace
- For businesses - colour aids in attracting customers and making those all-important sales
Does colour say something about you?
Colour psychology suggests that various shades can have a wide range of effects, from boosting our moods to causing anxiety. But could the colour of the products you purchase ever say something about your personality? For example, could the colour of the car you buy somehow relate to some underlying personality traits or quirks?
Your colour preferences when buying items says something about the type of image you want to project. Colour preferences, from the clothes you wear to the car you drive, can sometimes make a statement about how we want other people to perceive us. Other factors such as age and gender can also influence the colour choices we make.
The colour white can feel fresh and clean. The colour is often used to evoke a sense of youth and modernity.
A "powerful" colour, which might be the reason why black is the most popular colour for luxury vehicles. People often describe the colour as sexy, powerful, mysterious, and even ominous.
Is the most popular colour for vehicles and linked to a sense of innovation and modernity. High tech products are often silver, describing this colour as new, modern, and cutting-edge.
Red is a bold, attention-grabbing colour, so preferring this type of colour means you want to project an image of power, action, and confidence.
Often described as the colour of stability and safety. Choosing blue indicates that you are dependable and trustworthy.
Experts suggest, yellow means that you are a happy person in general and perhaps a bit more willing than the average person to take risks. Yellow fills us with optimism and confidence.
People who choose grey don't want to stand out and instead prefer something a bit more subtle, blending into the background.
Provokes images of nature, where we feel safe and reassured, which is why we often find ourselves spending time in the country, in nature or in parks. When we are surrounded by green, it encourages us to want to choose healthier eating options and adopt a healthier lifestyle
Orange is a colour that encourages fun, joyous social occasions, where everyone is chatting, laughing and having fun. It's warm, bright and naturally makes us feel happy! Variety of different shades such as peach and terracotta, offer people choices to be flamboyant.
The phenomenon that is COLOUR.
From the earliest humans to the present day, it has fascinated and perplexed us, amazed and delighted us. We are surrounded by colour in the natural world and marvel at the change of seasons for all it's glorious wonder. It’s so innately a part of us that often we don’t even consciously realise that it is informing hundreds, if not thousands of our daily decisions.
Colour is around us all the time and influences everything we do – though we are barely aware that this is happening. In fact, we are only 20 per cent conscious of the colour decisions that we make, though we are making them all the time: about what we wear, what we eat, what we buy, how we relax, right down to how we take our morning cup of coffee.
You only have to take a second and imagine life without colour and living in a monochrome world to start to get a feel for just how much we rely on colour to guide us through our daily lives and help us in our decision-making process.
For years, designers have focussed on function and form which works well but there is little space for any human emotional connection. It means that we are delivering design without the heartbeat – without the recognition that design is ultimately FOR a human-being.
The opportunity is there to use colour in design and have a positive impact on the emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing of the humans who work, live and move through spaces that we help to create.
It’s often underestimated how much power colour must influence how we think, feel and behave. The emotional connection we have with colour, and the beauty it brings, can greatly enhance our life. This emotional connection is what we are missing out on if we continue to solely focus on function and form in our architecture, branding, product design and other design projects.
Colour is making a comeback.
From a consumer perspective, there is a real thirst for colour now. People are driving more colourful cars, dying their hair more colourful hues, embracing the opportunity to bring more colour into their lives - which isn’t surprising seeing as we have come out of a decade or more of living in white and grey.
Colour is an increasingly important topic of consideration for neuroscientists, biologists, physicists, philosophers and psychologists; and research is continually expanding our knowledge of how we take colour in and how we emotionally respond to it.
As designers, this thirst for colour is a wonderful opportunity for us to capitalise and adapt our designs. When we are more mindful and purposeful in how we use colour, we can really influence and impact the experience that people have in a positive way. We can enhance their wellbeing, their mental health, their productivity at work and relaxation at home.
Seeing colour in a new light.
Colour therapy uses light and colour to improve health and well-being.
It is a gentle non-invasive complementary health therapy that harnesses the energy of the visible light spectrum to support, inspire and transform lives.
Light moves in waves of varying lengths and, as each colour has a different wavelength, we sense them all individually. Colour therapists believe that different colours in the spectrum correspond with the body's inner vibrations. If your vibrations are off-kilter, therapists believe that colour can harmonise and rebalance them if treated with the right colours.
The seven colours of the spectrum relate to the seven main energy centres of the body. Depending on your mood and physical health, specific colours can be used to treat the afflicted parts of your body.
Colour therapy is administered in several ways. In many treatments coloured lights are shone on the body, coloured clothing to be worn to improve mood are identified and a colour palette for interior design and lifestyle is recommended.
Is there any evidence?
There is some evidence that colour affects our mood and general wellbeing. In 1958, US scientist Robert Gerard conducted a study that claimed red stimulates and makes us anxious, while blue promotes calm. He also showed that colour could affect appetite, blood pressure and aggression.
Prisons in Texas have begun to dress inmates in pink, partly to humiliate them, and partly because, anecdotally, pink is said to reduce aggression.
Ingrid Collins, a consultant psychologist is convinced that colour can affect our energy levels. "We know that the cells of the human body are constructed from atoms and that each atom consists of particles of energy in constant motion," she says. "We are therefore at the most fundamental level made of energy and information, so when we add a particular colour, we are adding energy into our lives."
In 1666, English scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all the visible colours. Newton also found that each colour is made up of a single wavelength and cannot be separated any further into other colours.
Further experiments demonstrated that light could be combined to form other colours. For example, red light mixed with yellow light creates an orange colour. Some colours, such as green and magenta, cancel each other out when mixed and result in a white light. If you have ever painted, then you have probably noticed how certain colours can be mixed to create other colours.
As we come out of the pandemic situation and returning to the office, we are craving the calm warm tones of our homes to make us feel safe and reassured. A muted colour palette is emerging which offers a different character mix to invigorate or soothe. Lovers of the classic style can use soft honey tones to create a warm interior. Those who prefer a modern style are advised to choose white as a harmonious clean finish.
Other neutral colours, combined with an active ornament, such as French vanilla, mint, light brown hazelnuts, grey-green, warm grey.
Pink, red and purple colours can be used in a variety of shades, all from the warm and cosy side of the palette.
The trend for dark colours is in tune with the general direction in which interior fashion is moving today. The colour palette becomes darker – the space is filled with muted velvet greens and blues in combination with golden colours.