Think you know about colour psychology?

Posted in Blue, Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour and branding, colour-psychology, Gold, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, Yellow on December 6th, 2014 by Bernay

The trick you might be missing for successfully using colour in design

In the quest to distill the huge topic that is colour psychology in to a short, snappy, bite-size, explain-all solution; there have been quite a few ‘infographics’ put out there.

infographics

Under the umbrella term of colour psychology, various colours are depicted and their meanings explained using a mix of popular colour symbolism and the results of marketing surveys. But, very little of the information appears to be from an authentic study of colour psychology – the influence of colour on human emotion. Nor, does it account for how the difference between shades, tints or tones of the same colour might affect colour choice.

For example, we might have a resistance to a fiery pimento red, but a softer, more pinkish tone might be more pleasing.

When I ask an audience to think of their response the colour yellow, quite often it seems to provoke somewhat of a ‘marmite’ like it/don’t like it reaction, as many people usually have the primary yellow colour in mind! But the colours of soft butter, lemon yellow, ochre, daffodil, primrose and saffron – to name but a few, are also tones of yellow that may appeal more to our senses.

yellows

Each colour can evoke a negative or positive response in us. The positive qualities of yellow are that it can uplift our emotions, boosting our self -esteem and confidence. A negative response would be that the colour may make us feel anxious, nervous or even nauseous. This negative or positive reaction to a colour is determined by our individual personality and the particular tone of the yellow used.

In one of my previous blogs “Why do we have colour?” I mention the research of Anya Hurlbert founding Director of the Institute of Neuroscience, who says – “there is an underlying universality to colour preference but, there is also individuality in choice, which underpins the understanding of those of us that work with the psychology of colour”.

There are so many more layers to the understanding of colour psychology and how to use it intelligently in design, than just a ‘one size fits all’ approach. That said, once understood, the principles are beautifully simple and have the ability to revolutionise the approach of any designer working with colour.

In general, individually we are more likely to be drawn towards groups of colours which share certain characteristics in their composition. For example, one person might respond more positively towards softer, bluish tones which seem more sophisticated and appealing to them than bright, clear tints which may seem ‘child-like’.

softer, bluish tones

softer, bluish tones

bright, clear tints

bright, clear tints

Another individual may be more drawn to warm, earthy shades and find strong, contrasting, clear colours overwhelming.

warm, earthy shades

warm, earthy shades

strong, contrasting clear hues

strong, contrasting clear hues

So, the most ‘colour savvy’ designer should be thinking creatively about the most appropriate version of yellow to use and what they want it to convey; is the bright, cheerful, friendly, optimistic yellow more appropriate than the dusty, quietly confident yet sophisticated soft yellow?

The secret to then making the whole design more cohesive, is to work with other colours in your palette that share the same characteristics. They will have a natural visual harmony which will appeal to us instinctively, whilst also promoting each individual colour’s positive ‘emotive’ qualities.

For more insights on the use of colour psychology for branding and product design, you might like to view my presentation on Slideshare – “Why your brand colours matter – and how colour is your sales tool”

You might also like to read any of these blogs!: Chocolate brand captures quality with colour, How does colour influence your customer’s purchasing decisions?, Blue is the colour, Packaging design for wholesome premium foods, Colour psychology for children’s brands, Luxury branding – the power of purple, Pink branding – it’s not just for girls!, Which colour turns you off?, Going for gold, Brit-branding – is red, white and blue good for you?, 3 quick tips for using colour in branding, Going green – McDonalds?, Red and the Virgin empire

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What to mix with Marsala? Pantone’s colour of the year for 2015

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, Gold, Interior design, Purple, Red, Trends on December 5th, 2014 by Bernay

Launched as the colour of the year and described as like a red wine – “hardy, robust, satisfying and fulfilling – yet glamorous”, Marsala is Pantone’s colour for 2015.

Pantone_Color_of_the_Year_Marsala_Story_One_Image3                    Pantone Marsala

Image courtesy of Pantone                                                                            Pantone Marsala

While it’s not the colour of any wine I’ve ever drunk, it does have a touch of the timbre of cherry brandy about it. I wouldn’t describe it as a robust colour, but it does have a subtle depth.

This warm, reddish hue benefits from being worked in with other yellow-based colours including turquoise, teal, mustard, ochre, gold, aubergine-purple and deeper burnt orange. Not so much the brighter oranges though, or you’re in danger of tipping over in to the 70′s look! Pantone’s Marsala also works quite well with Dulux colour of the year for 2015 – Copper Orange!

                    copper_orange

Marsala mix                                                                                                             Copper orange

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The colour revolution

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, silver, Trends on November 4th, 2014 by Bernay

How technology and urban regeneration could inspire us towards a lighter, brighter colour trend

For much of the world, global interaction with the ‘web’ and the growing use of technology has for many, changed the face of the way we live and work.

Wearable technology such as Google’s Glass, an interactive pair of glasses with O.H.M.N (Optical Head-Mounted Display) that allow the wearer to navigate, send messages, play music and even improve their golf swing, perhaps moves us a step closer to ‘intuitive’ technology that becomes less an accessory, so much as an integrated  part of our biological being.

eyeborg

Indeed, colour blind artist and ‘eyeborg’ Neil Harbisson, who suffers from a condition known as achromatopsia, has developed a ‘creative antennae’ now permanently embedded in his skull. The internet-enabled device allows him to experience colour as audible sound waves.

But whilst advancing technology has the undoubted potential to improve the quality of and even extend human life, its growth and importance to the way we live, interact with each other and its impact on commerce, means many of the world’s populace now have desk-bound jobs and careers.

Long gone are the days where a higher proportion of work was manual labour. A calorie or carb-rich diet which would have been naturally burned off as fuel for work, now settles itself on the butt, thighs and stomach in swathes of the world’s westernised population.

However, we are now seeing something of an awakening to these problems via a global initiative that is begining to address the effect that the combined problems of inactivity and unhealthy diets have on our well-being.

Many organisations including planning authorities, professional bodies and private companies are attempting to address the issues by working with designers and architects to design buildings and public spaces that encourage daily activity.

Design Council

In the UK, the Design Council has launched the ‘Active’ programme which builds on government health research that shows how people’s quality of life can be improved through better design.

Another movement involving change to the environment is the increase in pop-up colour initiatives, where collaborations of artists and colourists seek to improve the appearance of  environments and buildings suffering from urban decay,  with the use of (often) quite bright colour palettes.

Colouring the grey city - Cairo’s dish painting initiative (image by Rowan El Shimi courtesy of arhamonline)

Colouring the grey city – Cairo’s dish painting initiative (image by Rowan El Shimi courtesy of arhamonline)

Dulux Let’s Colour project – Lido Cinema, Cork

Dulux Let’s Colour project – Lido Cinema, Cork

An increased awareness in the need for the inclusion of more activity in our daily lives could lead us toward a trend for more energising and playful colours used in design; which I see as represented by a lighter, brighter colour palette featuring fresher versions of colours such as aqua-blue and red. When the mood is down, these colours are generally found to be more cheerful and uplifting and it’s no surprise that these kinds of colours are used in urban colour projects.

With the advances in technology becoming more intuitive, I see our response to this represented by the clarity of the sensitive, reflective yet modernist metallic colour of silver.

The colour revolution

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‘Everyday + Finding the wonderful in the normal’ – The Dulux colour collection for 2015

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Interior design, Orange, Pink, Trends on October 23rd, 2014 by Bernay

Every year Akzo Nobel invite a group of international independent design and colour trend experts to discuss emerging worldwide colour trends and consumer buying behaviour. After which, senior Dulux colour consultants develop five trend stories and colour palettes at the ColourFutures Workshop inspired by one larger idea or ‘driving influence’ that holds all of the trends together, including what their colour of the year will be.

Everyday + Finding the wonderful in the normal

For 2015, Akzo Nobel declare “the overriding mood is one of both searching for and finding that extra ‘something’ which makes the difference to our lives”.

“There is a renewed emphasis on developing a more caring, sharing environment for all. Sustainability is now a requirement rather than a preference; and it needs to be backed up by genuine commitment. It’s a reaction against consumerism; a celebration of difference and the wisdom to be found in unique, individual stories”.

colour of the year

Colour of the year – Copper Orange

Akzo Nobel have identified that a warmer spectrum of pinks, reds and oranges is emerging, reflecting a more positive global outlook, with metallic colour tones playing an increasingly important role in modern design.  This trend has been translated in to the ‘colour of the year’ - an orangey copper tone (Dulux Ref: 50YR 36/263).

The colour has been selected to complement all of the major trends that Akzo Nobel have identified for 2015: a warmth in attitude and a renewed emphasis on sharing; the natural palette of the earth, from clay tones to sunlit highlights of yellow and the skin tones that reflect human interaction and the sepia hues of the past.

Here are the 5 colour stories as developed by the ColourFutures team, with a brief summation of the inspiration for the concept.

big nature

Big nature + small me

Challenge. Adventure. Wisdom.

The concept for this palette of predominantly warm, rich and earthy shades has been inspired by a new definition of freedom and releasing of the constraints of the modern world by the interaction with the untameable and unpredictable elements of the natural world. “There is a trend for individuals that want to pit themselves against the elements to find out what they are truly made of”.

“It represents a more authentic existence and a new minimalism, stripping away all that is unnecessary and purely cosmetic”.

Layer + layer

Layer + layer

Multi-layers. Overlaid. Patterned.

This combination of predominantly soft and pastel hues, reflect the ‘layered’ trends from the design world and how the combination of different fading, overlaying techniques and opaque materials creates more depth in design.

Unseen spaces

Unseen spaces

Un-noticed. Re-interpretation. New Luxury

A palette of warm and cool tones and shades which we might consider as ‘decorating neutrals’, represents the theme of how we are “learning to value and make use of previously neglected, unseen or unloved areas of our environment and making a virtue out of negative space by creating beauty and use where previously there was none”.

Him + her

Him + her

Equality. Uniqueness. Balance

A palette of dark and light tones and shades, male (blue) and female (pink) colours, have been inspired by a growing trend towards ‘celebrating the best of each sex’ and the importance of difference as well as equality. Men and women are increasingly being encouraged to play on the traditions of masculinity and femininity and re-engage with more traditional ‘gender-appropriate’ interests and approaches.

Friendly barter

Friendly barter

Resourcefulness. Collaboration. Community.

Here, Akzo Nobel have tapped into one of the most significant social trends of recent years - “our rethinking and redefining of the concept of ‘ownership”.

This lively, quirky colour palette of predominantly warm shades have been inspired by the effects of an ever-increasing influence of the digital world and its influence in creating a new, collaborative economy of ‘friendly barter’ that has established itself and connected to the world of commerce.

“Consumerism is thus replaced by a sense of collective resourcefulness. Consumers now seek out goods and services via a collaborative model based on sharing and borrowing via a community of like-minded individuals”.

For more information about ColourFutures 2015, see here.

For more about the colour trend of orange, see here.

Would you be interested in learning more about colour? Have a look at our new course for 2015!

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Colour trends at London Design festival 2014

Posted in Blue, colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Orange, Trends on October 15th, 2014 by Bernay

The September London Design festival offered up interior design shows with plenty of exciting stands from new and existing design companies.

The mood certainly seemed more positive and upbeat than we have seen in a few years – a reflection of the upturn and gradual return of confidence in our economy perhaps?

As an interested observer of colour trends, I like to keep an eye out for any recurring popular or emerging themes. Last year, I highlighted designs with a much bolder use of colour, which this year emerged in embroidered or woven bold graphic and ‘folk’ designs. In particular, the work of designer Bethan Laura Wood and A Rum Fellow caught my eye.

Presentation1

A Rum Fellow’s pieces are rooted in heritage techniques. In particular, Mayan embroidered textiles in vivid kaleidoscopic colour ways.

Presentation2

The Guadalupe Daybed designed by Bethan Laura Wood is covered in Divina, an exquisitely appliqued Kvadrat wool embroidered by Laura Lees.

An interesting and lively colour combination popped up on various exhibitor stands in furniture and fabric displays – orange and turquoise/blue.

Presentation3

I love this combo, it’s both fresh and upbeat! Earlier in the post I mentioned how this years’ shows reflected a more buoyant mood?

Presentation4Presentation5

Two years ago I was talking to students about the colour orange, and how I felt it would become popular post-recession. Orange is a colour which conveys a spirit of fun, comfort, abundance and feeling safe. Together with this brighter-hued blue, it creates a wholly positive vibe and captures the current spirit of optimism as we emerge from the challenges of the last few years.

 

 

 

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